Spray-on shoes, check. Requisite mad-scientist pinwheel coif, check. Port-a-potty elevator to backyard lab guarded by a Simon keypad, check. Primate sidekick strapped to thought translator, check. All that’s missing from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, the tale of a bumbling science geek gone … well, more bumbling, is the pocket protector.
In this “film by a lot of people” — as the opening credits inform us — based ever-so-slightly on the Judi Barrett book of the same name, an island community sustained entirely by a middling sardine industry undergoes a pleasant shock to the taste buds thanks to Flint Lockwood’s water-to-food converter, an invention that has the even more wondrous side-effect of making Flint (voiced by Hader) super-popular for the first time in his life. But just like his hair unbalder and the rat bird before it, Flint’s invention begins to experience major glitches that, this time around, threaten the world with certain doom via mutated Vegas-buffet offerings.
Cloudy impressively manages to garner laughs without a single instance of flatulence, but not to worry: There is at least one depantsing. Also notably missing — a pretty princess. Instead, we get Sam Sparks (Faris), who transforms from ditzy weather-channel talking head to the bespectacled, scrunchy-wearing, equation-spouting meteorology genius she really is and finds happiness as a result. In other words, Cloudy opts for off-beat humor and smart characterizations. And just when the funny comes up short, the action takes over with a massive spaghetti twister that churns up bricks until Flint and crew can shuttle to the source á la Bruce Willis in Armageddon.
At the very least, parents can depend on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to convey vital lessons, like large portions of food can squash you, and monkeys only think about mustaches and Gummi bears.