Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Directed by Phil Lord, Chris Miller. Voices by Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Neil Patrick Harris, Benjamin Bratt, Al Roker, Lauren Graham. (2009, PG, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 18, 2009
The wildest fantasy of every hamburger-happy kid is realized in this zippy, lippy animated adaptation of the popular children’s book. When a misunderstood inventor named Flint Lockwood (voiced by Hader) cooks up a contraption that converts water into food, causing all matter of epicurean delights to fall from the sky, he transforms overnight from town pariah to boy hero. Flint's invention first attracts the interest of a plucky meteorological anchor named Sam Sparks (Faris) and then incites a tourist boom to his down-on-the-luck fishing town of Swallow Falls. The town sign, missing the crucial “F,” reads Swallow alls, which is a dead-on description of any dead-end factory town whose one industry has dried up. The camera just glances past the sign; Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is too teeming a visual feast to linger long on any one sight – not with a spaghetti tornado and a Jell-O funhouse to attend to – but it’s characteristic of the kind of smart, lightly snarky humor on display throughout. The sights are ingenious, impressively rendered in 3-D, and the sounds – including cheeky voice work by Mr. T, Harris, and Bratt – are a blast. All told, this is spirited play with unlabored lessons about good citizenship and the power of pluck that slide down as easily as the ice cream snowdrifts that blanket Swallow Falls.