What's the last family film you can think of that name-checked Nikola Tesla and Alexander Graham Bell? When in movie history has the girl ever revealed her true self and become more attractive to the hero by putting on spectacles and pulling back her hair?
And, let's face it, when's the last time any of us has seen a former child star wearing a giant roasted chicken battling comestible defense mechanisms while a peanut-allergic weather girl lowers the hero via licorice rappelling rope into a shaft of razor-sharp peanut brittle where the slightest scratch could prove deadly to her? (If that seems convoluted and complicated, you're tracking just fine!)
In these and so many other ways, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs takes the road less traveled. Supremely silly yet peppered with unexpected sophistication and subversive wit, Sony Pictures Animation's latest—more inspired by than based on the popular storybook by Judi and Ron Barrett—works harder and flies higher than you'd think, following in the footsteps of the studio's previous Monster House and Surf's Up. (So, yes, a lot better than Open Season. Nuff said.)
Which is not to say that Cloudy, from first-time feature directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, doesn't hit some overly familiar notes, too. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), a young science enthusiast, just wants to invent something great and prove himself to the skeptical citizens of Swallow Falls, but his inventions never turn out quite as expected (compare A Bug's Life, Jimmy Neutron, Robots, Meet the Robinsons). No one understands or believes in him, including, alas, his uncomprehending, disapproving father (compare Ratatouille, Happy Feet, The Tale of Despereaux, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar 2, etc., etc.).
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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
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