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Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs


[Rating: 3.5/5]

Making feature-length films out of 30 year old picture books seems to be all the rage these days.   Given the choice, I’ll take “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” over “Where the Wild Things Are.”   It might not be as ambitious, but it’s not as problematic, either.   And it has way more fun.

Screwball inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader)–responsible for spray-on shoes and Rat-Birds–is the resident of a tiny island that subsists on sardine sales.   When the world discovers that sardines are super-gross, Lockwood invents a machine that turns water into food.   (Actually, it requires so much voltage to operate, it’s really turning fossil fuels into food, which isn’t quite as good a deal.)  The device ends up in the atmosphere, where it grows much larger, develops a personality, and everything takes a turn for the worse.   With meatballs.

In the mix is weathergirl Sam Sparks (Anna Farris,)  on the island for a novelty report when it starts raining ratatouille.   So she stays, and Lockwood helps her put her glasses back on rediscover her inner nerdiness.   The two battle the menacing weather machine with the help of Flint’s unibrowed, techn0-stupid (but ever-loving) father, and Lockwood’s talking monkey–talking in monosyllables, at least.  Turns out monkey’s don’t have that much to say.  Also, there’s a strange mustached guy who can seemingly do everything.

“Cloudy” moves fast and light, shedding visual gags, jokes, sideways looks and cultural references so fast, you’ll have to watch it twice or three times to catch them all.   It makes valid points about the dangers of overconsumption, and the hidden costs of new technology, and what happens when you don’t think about what’s going to happen after what is happening stops happening.   All sugar-coated in childish zaniness and it mile-a-minute pace.   It’s fast, and fresh, and above all, fun.

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