Not so much "based on" as "inspired by" the classic children's book of the same name, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" tells the tale of a hapless young inventor named Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) who accidentally solves his town's economic and dietary problems with an invention that turns water into any food he wants. That is, until his invention threatens to destroy the world.
WHY YOU'LL LOVE IT
"Cloudy" is a genuinely funny movie with real wit and creativity. The characters and jokes feel fresh and new, and some will have both adults and kids howling. (Anyone who has tried to teach their parents how to use a computer will crack up during one scene in particular.)
Underneath the humor, there are also some positive messages for kids. Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), an intelligent female weather reporter, learns that she doesn't have to dumb herself down to be accepted, and is just as beautiful with a scrunchie and glasses. Flint learns valuable lessons about accepting himself for who he is, rather than trying to look and act a certain way to be cool. And ultimately, we are shown what happens when greed runs rampant: a giant spaghetti twister will threaten to destroy the earth.
At the core of the movie is a heartwarming sweetness, particularly when it comes to Flint and his technophobe father, Tim (James Caan). The father and son struggle to express their feelings and understand each other through the whole film, only to have a surprisingly touching resolution at the end.
WHY YOU'LL HATE IT
If you're expecting a page-for-page remake of the book you and your kids love, you're not going to get it. "Cloudy" only takes a fraction of its ideas from the original book, choosing to spin off in its own wild direction as soon as it gets the opportunity.
As for the hilarity described above, a lot of it is likely to go over the heads of your little ones. There's still plenty for them to laugh at, but "Cloudy" definitely plays to its older audience whenever it can, though it never veers into inappropriate territory.
There are a few instances of questionable language and insults, including the terms "hellhole," "knuckle draggers," and "four-eyes." I personally despise the "four eyes" insult for obvious reasons. As a wearer of glasses myself, I've been happy to see the insult fade into obscurity as it has become normal for children to have eyewear. Reintroducing the phrase now may cause otherwise emotionally secure children to suddenly feel self-conscious about what is an absolutely normal and necessary part of their lives.
Younger kids might jump at the genuinely intense scenes of food storms. The storms and twisters in "Cloudy" are large and scary -- particularly if seen in 3D -- even if they are made up of CGI food. For this reason, I suggest leaving your kindergarten and younger kids at home.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It's not a classic, but "Cloudy" is very entertaining with some very amusing characters. And with some positive messages stealthily placed throughout, it's definitely worth seeing.
|Though technically an adult, Rhianwen Benner voraciously consumes children's media with the passion and wonder of a child. As a researcher at Temple University, she has studied the relationship between media and children's development. She has witnessed many special moms and kids navigate the often complex world of children's entertainment. Based in Los Angeles, she is here to serve as your field guide to what kids watch.|