Published Sep 18, 2009If you lived on a remote island in the middle of the Atlantic, dependent entirely on the sardine industry, you'd probably start making stuff up too. That's the premise for Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), who grows up an aspiring but mishap-prone inventor unsupported by his gruff single dad (voiced by James Caan). When the sardine industry collapses ― when people finally realized they're "gross" ― Flint plays gastronomic alchemist by inventing a machine that turns water into on-demand meals. (Don't sweat the scientific details, the film certainly doesn't.)
The machine ends up launched into the stratosphere, where it draws upon cloud moisture and starts raining meals down on the tiny island, where residents rejoice at the sight of beautiful steaks and fresh fruit falling like manna from heaven. The town's blowhard mayor (Bruce Campbell) leaps on the opportunity for tourist dollars, while underappreciated weather intern Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) builds her career on the phenomenon. That is, until an abundance of radiation (or something) starts to mutate the food to giant, and not just for American appetites, proportions.
Credit the writing/directing team of Lord and Miller (who both worked on animated show Clone High) for knowing their target audience in adapting the children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett. Cloudy is fast-paced, moves its plot along very quickly and is more interesting in visual whiz-bang, like Flint's backyard laboratory ― a through the latrine, down a pipe, into a suspended gazebo adventure that defies physics, his youth and financial reality but looks like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang crossed with Wonka's factory. And that's the point, goosed to epic cartoon proportions by bang-for-the-buck 3D animation.
Smartly, Lord and Miller eschew clever wordplay meant to sate restless adults, instead piling one silly innovation atop the next: an ice cream snowball fight, a roofless restaurant where patrons hold plates aloft to catch their dinner and a monkey sidekick armed with a translator when his only thought is his name: "Steve!" It's a brisk 80 minutes of surrealist fun that delivers. (Sony)