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Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (movie)

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I saw a preview a while back of the animated kids' movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and it looked like it might be fun. So I rented it this weekend. Tonight, it was a choice between that and such lighthearted fun fare as All Quiet on the Western Front and Cool Hand Luke. Guess which I picked?

Cloudy turns out to be goofy (in a good way), funny, and a lot of fun.

It seems like there are a bunch of animated kids' movies that I barely hear about when they come out but that turn out to be delightful when I finally see them on video. This is another one. And as with several of the others, it turns out that it actually did quite well at the box office; I just wasn't paying attention.

This movie is very very loosely based on the 1978 kids' book of the same title, by by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett; it takes the basic idea of food falling from the sky as weather, and the title, and goes off in a rather different direction: The movie's focused on young inventor Flint Lockwood, who invents a machine that turns water into food.

It mostly has the typical themes of this kind of movie: a misunderstood kid who wants to be popular and wants the approval of his gruff dad. Nothing really new on that front. But the characters are great (especially Sam Sparks, the intern weather reporter and romantic interest, who—it's clear from her first couple of scenes—is a lot smarter than she initially lets on), and there are a bunch of nicely visually imaginative moments, and quite a few laugh-out-loud funny lines, including some very entertaining meta-jokes.

A few assorted lines to give a bit of general flavor:

Dad: Not every sardine was meant to swim, son.

Young Flint: I don't understand fishing metaphors!

And:

Flint [voiceover]: My dream was to help my hometown, a tiny island hidden under the A in Atlantic, called Swallow Falls. We were famous for sardines, until the day the Baby Brent Sardine Cannery closed for good, right after everyone in the world realized that sardines . . . are super gross. Soon all of us were stuck eating the sardines that no one else wanted: poached, fried, boiled, dried, candied, and juiced.

And:

Flint: Don't worry. I have a dangeometer that lets us know if the food is going to over-mutate.

And:

Flint: I've never actually been in a snowball fight.

Sam: Really?

Flint: I don't even know the rules. Is there like a point system, or is it to the death?

And:

Flint: Come on, Steve—we've got a diem to carpe!

Not enough to convince you to watch it? Try this:

Bruce Campbell as the mayor! James Caan as the dad! Mr. T as the cop! (And the only black man in the movie, sigh.) Neil Patrick Harris as the monkey, Steve! Benjamin Bratt as Manny the cameraman! (Who eventually has a couple of great lines.) Music by Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo)!

Anyway. In short: fun, silly, entertaining, and even reasonably geek-positive; worth seeing.

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