Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Posted on January 5, 2010 at 8:00 am

Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for brief mild language
Profanity: Brief schoolyard language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Comic peril and violence, no one hurt
Diversity Issues: Issue of pressure on women to be cute and perky instead of strong and smart
Date Released to Theaters: September 18, 2009
Date Released to DVD: January 5, 2010 ASIN: B002WJI2QQ

When things go very, very wrong in this movie, as they so often do, we get to see a series of television news broadcasts from around the world showing the destruction of various iconic monuments, as we so often do. And then something different happens. One of the newscasters points out that this particular un-natural disaster seems inexplicably and improbably primarily directed at national landmarks. So this is a movie with a sense of humor about itself and its audience.

As long as you don’t expect it to have much to do with the story or illustrations in the classic book by Judi and Ron Barrett, you can settle in for an entertaining and, yes, delicious family film. In the book, instead of rain and snow, food falls from the sky in the town of Chew and Swallow. In this movie, we get to see how that came to be.

It begins, as so many stories for children begin, with a kid who feels like an outsider. Flint Lockwood (as an adult the voice of Bill Hader of “Saturday Night Live”) is a curious kid who likes to invent things but does not always think things through. His spray-on shoes are so indescructable they never come off. His gadget to allow Steve the Monkey to speak works perfectly well; it’s just that Steve doesn’t say much worth hearing. His mom believes in him, but after she dies he just has his dad, all eyebrows and mustache (and voice of James Caan) thinks he should just give it up and come to work with him in his sardine shop.

Sardines are the sole product of Flint’s town, called Swallow Falls. But then, disaster happens. Everyone figures out that sardines are yucky. And so the town falls on hard times. Can one of Flint’s inventions save the day?

Well, not really. An invention to turn water into food goes awry when it is shot into the air and the next thing the town knows, what once was rain, snow, fog, and hail is now pancakes, sushi, BLTs, and jellybeans. The mayor (voice of B-movie star Bruce Campbell) sees this as a chance to revitalize the town’s economy through tourism. And as a chance to eat a lot of food and get very fat. The former mascot of the town’s previous sardine industry, the now-grown “Baby” Brent (voice of SNL’s Andy Samberg) sees this as a threat to his popularity. And a junior employee at the Weather Channel who wants to be a newscaster (Anna Feris as Sam Sparks) thinks she has to hide her brains and curiosity to get people to like her and sees this as her chance to show what she can do.

That is a lot to sort out, not to mention a fabulous mansion made of Jell-O and some action sequences involving space travel and a peanut allergy. But it is all handled well without getting frantic or losing its sense of fun. This is a fresh and clever film, with both wit and heart, a family delight, more fun than a hailstorm of jellybeans followed by pizza flurries.

Related Tags:


3D Action/Adventure Animation Based on a book Comedy DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Fantasy

11 Replies to “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”

  1. I saw the trailer in 3D and it is awesome. My first thought was “O Nuts! I wanted to make this movie!” Ever since my kids first read the book – over and over again – I knew it would make an incredible film. Thankfully, these guys did the project instead of me. It looks like a total blast. And the 3D is off the charts.

  2. Before heading out with my young ones I checked the review. I am very disappointed to see that it is rated for 4th-6th graders. When are they going to make a decent movie for younger kids. Where have all the G rated movies gone?

  3. Hello, Heather! No one but Disney/Pixar seems to know how to make a marketable G-rated movie, I am sorry to say. You did not say how young your children are. I think 3D movies are overwhelming for the youngest kids and this one has some scary stuff, but I think ages 7 and up would probably be okay with it.

  4. it will be wonderful movie for all of us as it contain marvelous plot with mountain huge humors. i never like to this kind of things but among animation movies this is ok for me. no doubt this will tight children heart. but it could b more dramatically to catch elders.

  5. I have two boys, 2 and 4. We love to watch movies and our favorites now are Horton Hears a Who and Wall-E. We don’t see movies in 3-D because it’s a little overwhelming. We have seen Mad. 2 and Ice Age 3 in the theatres and both boys did very well. I want to see this movie today but am a little concerned about the mom dying part…anyone have a recommendation as to if I should take my boys to see this movie???

  6. Hi, Kelli! I very seldom recommend theatrical releases for children under age 5 because they can be overwhelming, especially, as you said, in 3D. I am not recommending this movie for your sons for that reason, but the death of the mother is on-screen and referred to only many years after it happens so that would not be one of my top concerns. If you have any other questions, let me know.

  7. Hi Nell,
    I love your reviews, but please don’t downplay a Mom dying, even if it is off-screen and happens long ago. My kids (5 and 8) may miss every important plot point, but they will glom onto the briefest mention of a Mom or Dad (Meet the Robinson’s) dying or disappearing… My boys were both very upset about the father in Meet the Robinson’s, even though it all worked out in the end, and my 8 year old was very upset about the Mom in Cloudy with a Chance. I know I apparently have super-sensitive kids (makes it difficult to find a movie they’ll watch – sigh), but please be sure to include such things in your review box at the top of the page under the Violence/Scariness heading so we can decide if we want to risk it. Keep up the good work!

  8. Thanks, GES, and this is the reason I always mention it in the “parents should know” category. I’ll try to include it in the other as well. I have written about this many times before. Most stories involving kids have at least one missing parent, and this goes back a long, long way. My kids, too, used to ask why Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz” lived with her aunt and uncle and. not her parents. So does Tom Sawyer, and Huck’s abusive father doesn’t last long, either. Then there are parents who are present but treat the child badly, like in Hansel and Gretel, and all those evil stepmothers.
    There are several reasons for this but the most important one is that if the parents are there, the child cannot have an adventure. The parents would be telling the child to put on a sweater and do his homework. Many kids are completely cool with that, but some, like yours, are so empathetic that it is a concern for them and I really like to hear from parents who respect that and do their best to protect the kids who are bothered.

  9. Thanks for the review. It cements my desire _NOT_ to see this movie. I LOVED the books and am so very disappointed that this, like so many other movies, has almost nothing in common with the books other than the title and a smidgen of the main premise (which was really about imagination, not just food falling from the sky). So disappointing…

  10. Thanks, Princess Leia! Unfortunately, a book and a movie are very different forms, and something that works well in one rarely works well in the other. I loved the book, too, but the movie has very little to do with it.

  11. Hi,
    I´m looking for one of you articles titled “Who sits on the board”. Where I can find it? Also if I could… I want to make you a question. Please recommend me a book for understand how to create a corporate board.
    Best Regards,

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