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With: (voices) Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Al Roker, Lauren Graham, Will Forte, Max Neuwirth, Peter Siragusa, Angela Shelton, Neil Flynn, Liz Cackowski
Written by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller, based on a book by Judi Barrett , Ron Barrett
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
MPAA Rating: PG for brief mild language
Running Time: 81
Date: 09/16/2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Jumbo Shrimp

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The new computer animated, 3D movie adaptation Judi and Ron Barrett's 1978 children's book is, of course, a good deal higher-tech and more plot heavy than the original story, with all kinds of personal growth for the characters. It has a certain amount of imagination and humor, but it seems as if none of this grew organically; every time the movie allows a home-grown, funny little moment, that information is then gathered up and used later on as a plot device. It's all a bit much, and too tightly wound for my tastes, but at least Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs doesn't have the feel that it's desperate for your affections. It seems perfectly content with itself, and manages to pass by amiably, without offending. In the film, a nerdy inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) lives on a tiny island whose dying commerce is based entirely around fishing for sardines. He creates a machine that turns water into food. But in hooking it up to the necessary electrical power, he accidentally launches it into the stratosphere, where it begins to rain chow. The townspeople begin to order dishes they would like to eat, and everyone turns greedy. Flint's father (voiced by James Caan) disapproves of this latest venture, but lacks the words to express himself. A cute weather girl, Sam Sparks (voiced by the incredible Anna Faris) is dispatched to the island, and she and Flint strike up a cute relationship. Despite all these characters and plot threads, the movie gets plenty of mileage out of its imaginative images of giant food and all the various colors, shapes and textures. (Indeed, the food looks good enough to eat.) The movie also gets points for the creative casting of Bruce Campbell as the voice of the town mayor and Mr. T as a cop. [Note: I brought my 3-1/2 year old son to the screening, and he lasted about 45 minutes, before he said he was scared and his mother had to take him out.]

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