Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (***1/2)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. 82 mins. PG. Written and Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Starring the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Neil Patrick Harris, Bruce Campbell, Andy Samberg, James Caan, and Mr. T.

I never read the beloved children's book that the movie is based on, but as written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (two writing vets of How I Met Your Mother), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a rollicking delight for both kids and adults. It's one of the more successful non-Pixar animated movies of late mostly due to the script and voicework. When inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) invents a device that turns water into food, his sardine-loving town has all kinds of delicious food fall from the sky. Lockwood's invention was supposed to end world hunger, but problems develop when the town denizens start overeating. The visuals, as rendered in Digital 3D, are gloriously yummy and the comedy is smart and quick. There's great use of running jokes and call-backs, and if you're a fan of How I Met Your Mother (I am), you'll enjoy the comedic tone sustained throughout. Hader and Faris are great as Lockwood and his weather gal squeeze, but NPH steals the show as a monkey whose thoughts are made audible by one of Lockwood's inventions. Cloudy manages to execute this concept much better than Up did, with its Dug the dog character. The movie nearly wears out its welcome toward the end when the action ramps up and takes over, but the movie is so short and it's earned enough goodwill up to then that you don't really care. I'd recommend checking it out in 3D, and kids or no kids, it's worth seeing.

- John


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