Rated PG for brief mild language, 90 minutes
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" sunny, energetic fun
The imaginative new animated film "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" takes on the wild notion of - what if it really could rain down food? What would we do? And most importantly, what would we look like after each food storm? From Sony Pictures, the clean crisp animation is a great deal of bright, colorful fun and energetically voiced by some well-known names. Based on a classic and beloved children's book of the same name, in spite of some notable changes from the book and a busy storyline, "Meatballs" is a breezy, light escape for the whole family.
Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is a nerdy young scientist living on the island of Swallow Falls in the Atlantic Ocean. The town has become near desolate after the close of the sardine plant, which provided most, if not all, the town's income. Lockwood lives with his dad Tim (James Caan), who run the local bait and tackle location and doesn't see eye to eye with his son. Swallow Falls' ambitious mayor (Bruce Campbell) wants to desperately revitalize the town, and soon may have the opportunity when one of Flint's inventions, that of periodic storms of food, actually works. A pretty young reporter (Anna Faris) arrives on the scene in time to witness one of nature's most beautiful events and possibly one of its most disasterous, when the invention goes awry and threatens to destroy the town.
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" is a great deal of vivid entertainment and a perfect escape for the adults to sneak out and go see the equally enjoyable "Jennifer's Body." But most adults will want to stick around to see all the globs of food falling from the sky that somehow keeps getting better and better (a huge pancake that destroys a school and a super huge corn on the cob are hilarious).
"Meatballs" has storyline that's too busy for its own good, trying to cram in too much at once, but it is still enjoyable fun. In addition, those familiar with the children's book will notice a few significant changes in translation, but the changes mostly are contemporary ones, mostly associated with technology. The basic premise of the book remains the same, even if most of the characters and names have changed (the name of the town is now Swallow Falls instead of Chewandswallow.
The large cast of familiar voices has fun, especially Hader, Faris, Caan and particularly Campbell, who's a hoot as the overly ambitious mayor. Andy Samberg and Mr. T are also a delight, and listen closely for Neil Patrick Harris, Lauren Graham, Benjamin Bratt, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Will Forte and even Al Roker (you can't make a film about the weather without an actual weatherman-type on hand). Oh, and there's also a talking monkey that steals most of the scenes and the best lines.
Yes, it's a very frenetic, past paced movie, almost too quick (it's only 81 minutes), but children should enjoy themselves and parents should enjoy the fact that it's suitable and with good messages: watch what you wish for, particularly fame and fortune, along with helping the good of everyone, not just yourself. If you need to get out of the elements this weekend, check out the pleasantly enjoyable and entertaining "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."