Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs review

It’s raining menu in Sony’s 3D animation, thanks to a weather machine that causes cheeseburgers, beef steaks and pizza to tumble from the sky.

Cooked up by resident inventor Flint Lockwood (Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader), it’s the best thing to hit the town of Swallow Falls since sliced bread. Yet the more he demands of his device, the greater the portions become, resulting in a literal food mountain. Can Flint cancel his order, or has he bitten off more than he can chew?

A parable about gluttony and over-consumption masked as a cartoon disaster movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s adaptation of Judi and Ron Barrett’s 1978 children’s book is as subtle as a giant pancake crushing a house. But by embracing the craziness of its central premise, Cloudy delivers a surprisingly appetizing dish of fast-paced lunacy, sprinkled with some memorable characters (take a bow, Mr T’s by-the-book cop) and peppered with great one-liners. (Look out for the TV anchorman who remarks on the fact that Flint’s malfunctioning doohickey, in true Armageddon fashion, strikes familiar national landmarks first before moving on to surrounding areas.)

OK, having the smorgasbord take on a life of its own is one quirk too far, even if it does allow koala-sized Gummy Bears to land on an aircraft wing and start tearing it apart Twilight Zone-style. Voicing bobble-headed characters resembling Wii avatars, Hader and Anna Faris have little to do besides express amazement.

Thank goodness, then, for sassy infant Cal (Bobb’e J Thompson) and talking monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), hilarious scene-stealers both who prove that, even in animation, you should never work with children or animals.

The simple plot is as overextended as a compulsive eater’s waistline – but any movie bold enough to warn popcorn-munching filmgoers about obesity has to be applauded. Hell, they might not even finish the bucket…


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