More after the jump.
Like many other great animated movies, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs started life as a children's book. The original story was written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett and first published in 1978. (The sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs entitled Pickles to Pittsburgh was published in 2000).
The book is about two children who listen to their Grandpa Henry tell the story of the town of Chewandswallow, where the weather comes three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is always food and beverages. The rain is juice and soup, the snow is mashed potatoes, and the wind brings hamburgers. Because of this phenomenon, there are no grocery stores. However, when floods and storms of giant food come, the population is forced to leave Chewandswallow on boats made of bread, and adapt to their new lives in our world where the sky doesn't feed you.
The movie has very little to do with, and is almost a prequel, to the book as it explains the origins of Chewandswallow's weather. The movie, Co-written by Philip Lord and Chris Miller (who also co-directed), is intended to be an homage to, and a parody of, disaster movies such as Twister, Armageddon, and The Day After Tomorrow.
The plot of the movie revolves around Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader). Flint is a young inventor with a poor track record. (Spray on shoes that never come off, rat bird hybrids and a flying car without wings are just some failed inventions). Flint's father, a technophobic fisherman named Tim Lockwood (James Caan--his mother has a cameo voiced by Lauren Graham), wants his son to join him in the family bait business.
Flint lives on a small, unknown island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. (because it is "right underneath the A in "Atlantic"). The island's sole export is sardines. But, when the sardine market dries up, the town becomes so poor that it can only afford to eat sardines.
Hoping to solve the sardine situation, Flint invents a machine that converts water into food. Of course, something goes wrong, and the machine ends up floating above the town. As a result, it rains food. Meanwhile, weather intern Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) comes to the island and becomes the romantic interest for Flint.
Other notable characters are Mayor Shelbourne (voiced by Bruce Campbell), Grown up Baby Brent, the former sardine mascot Brent (Andy Samberg) Sam's renaissance man camera operator Manny (Benjamin Bratt) and Officer Earl (by Mr. T). Eventually, Sam realizes that the town and the world are in danger because of Flint's machine and they must find a way to stop it.
The voice cast is excellent (Mr. T steals the show in my mind), the story is fun and the gags work (especially Flint's talking pet monkey, "Steve").But, for some reason, this movie lacks the heart of other recent animated movies. You can't look a computer generated movie without the obvious comparison to Pixar. This movie, while good, doesn't quite reach the high standards set by Pixar. The movie is not as deep and won't be as timeless as their movies. Still, it is a fine way to spend and afternoon.
I should also mention that I saw this with my four-year old daughter, Elizabeth. She loved the movie and was not scared by the loud noises or danger.