Although it’s inspired by the popular 1978 children’s novel, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett, the 3-D animated screen version is a tantalizing delight unto itself – and a cautionary tale about gluttony, obesity and genetically-altered edibles.
With the collapse of the world canned-sardine market, the tiny island fishing town of Swallow Falls has fallen on hard times. Even its Welcome sign is missing the crucial ‘F,’ reading ‘Swallow alls.’ But Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader of “Saturday Night Live”), a nerdy teenage inventor, is determined to make his mark, coming up with a clever contraption that turns water vapor into food: the Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator.
While his first attempts subject him to ridicule and disdain, soon everything imaginable comes drizzling down in savory smorgasbord. As Flint’s fame grows, so do the appetites of the townspeople, led by their opportunistic Mayor (voiced by Bruce Campbell) whose waistline is continually expanding. Chew and Swallow (the town’s new name) becomes an Atlantic cruise ship destination, as tourists flock in for the ice-cream sledding and Jello-O mold jumping. Inevitably, Flint’s machine goes awry and he’s called on, once again, to cope with impending catastrophe. In the meantime, he’s able to repair his relationship with his disapproving, technophobe father (voiced by James Caan), befriend the frenzied cop (voiced by Mr. T), confront a local bully (voiced by Andy Samberg) and ignite a romance with Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris), a savvy TV forecaster for the Weather News Network reporting on the meteorological phenomena.
First-time directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller stretch the thin, uneven narrative with visual puns and weather-disaster gags, while the high-spirited Sony Pictures animation remains amusing. Since they previously collaborated on the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” they inveigled its star, Neil Patrick Harris, to supply the voice for Steve, Flint’s pet monkey. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” is a funny, eye-popping 8, emerging as an entertaining kidflick while serving up enlightening food-for-thought.