Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs hits the humorous sweet spot for a computer-animated family film. It’s smart without alienating kids and witty without winking at parents by way of sleazy innuendo. It’s a good time, for whatever that’s worth.
Based on the intricately detailed children’s book of the same name, the movie lifts many of its best visual elements directly from the work of illustrator Ron Barrett, including a giant macaroni noodle that falls from the sky and promptly plops on a man’s head. Added by the screenwriters is a framing story in which wannabe inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) finally comes up with an idea that works: a machine that can transform water into ready-to-eat meals. When the device accidentally launches into the atmosphere and gets stuck there, a never-ending smorgasbord breaks loose.
The filmmakers also add a handful of morals – Flint is ultimately vindicated in pursuing his dreams; the weather reporter who is assigned to cover the story learns to embrace her true, nerdy self – but the movie mostly resonates as a clever parable for America in our obesity age. By the time the streets of Flint’s town begin to resemble the floor of Old Country Buffet, don’t be surprised if a piece of your king-size candy bar gets stuck in your throat.