By Ashley Hillard
â€˜â€™Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballsâ€™â€™ is, unlike say a lot of the recent Disney flicks (I have to admit, I’m not as big a fan of “Up” as most), a solid family film that is both funny and sweet, without being saccharine, with flawed characters, and a story that teaches children without forcing a message down their throats.
In the town of Chewandswallow, people are sick of eating sardines and a local failed inventor by the name of Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) accidentally sends a machine that turns water into food out into the atmosphere. The town is soon hit by burgers, ice cream and Jell-O and an intern-turned-weather reporter, Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) is sent to cover the story.
At the heart of this 3D animated tale is a father and son story with a side of commentary about the downside of having too much food. It also deals with sexism and why it isnâ€™t good for girls to dumb themselves down, as well as the negative physical effects of over-eating.
The visuals are amazing â€“ the VFX team does a great job of bringing giant food to life and enhancing the charactersâ€™ personalities through great expressions. The character that sticks out the most is Steve the monkey (Neil Patrick Harris). Flint attaches an animal translator device to his monkey friend and colleague, asking him challenging questions about science to which Steve replies â€œSteve!â€ The story has serious moments that are easier to swallow because of the goofy way in which the scenes are written and directed, to the credit of Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The duo shows a lot of talent in their feature directorial debut. Both are co-executive producers on the hit series, which also happens to star Neil Patrick Harris, â€˜â€™How I Met Your Motherâ€™â€™.
Itâ€™s not always easy to make animated characters funny, sympathetic and loveable, but there is not one weak link in the cast of this movie. From the popular frat-type guy that loses it all, to the loser that just wants his dadâ€™s approval and will go to extremes to get it, this movie has a lot of heart and great messages, wrapped up in a yummy package.