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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (PG)
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This is a 2009 movie based on a 1978 children's picture book. I'm sure I must have read the book when I was a little kid, in either the late 70s or early 80s. And I'm sure I liked it, but I'm not sure if it's something I owned, or read at school or the library, or what. I doubt I owned it, though. At least until... it must have been 1999 that I saw it in a book store, and bought it for the sake of nostalgia. Anyway... I didn't see the movie until 2013, which I watched on DVD the same weekend the sequel hit theaters.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. It was hard to see how a movie could be made out of that little book. And indeed, there are a lot of differences, but there are also a lot of similarities. I wasn't really expecting it to be great, but I figured it would probably be at least okay. But holy crap balls, watching this movie was... a transcendent experience. From start to finish, it was pretty much non-stop hilarity. Utterly, utterly brilliant. The characters were great, and on top of how mind-bogglingly hilarious it all was, the drama... oh, the drama! Wow, this movie had some truly expert heartstring-tugging. And surprisingly awesome action. And a pretty great romance. And the whole thing was a tropestravaganza. And through it all, the hilarity. The hilarity, and the surprises, and the sheer madcap genius! This movie is one of the best things ever.

Okay. So it starts with a kid named Flint Lockwood, who lives in the small town of Swallow Falls. He wants to be an inventor, and even though all the other kids laugh at him, his mother encourages him. The first invention we see is spray-on shoes, which unfortunately can't be removed... so he wears them for the rest of his life. There's a montage of other things he invents over the years, and they're all either important to the story or at least recurring gags, even if at first they just seem like failures and one-shot gags. But by the end of the montage, he's grown up. The thing about his town is... its economy pretty much depends on sardine fishing. And then, one day, everyone in the world realizes sardines are gross, so the town is pretty much doomed, and the townsfolk only survive by eating sardines themselves. Nothing but sardines. Which they hate. So Flint invents a machine that can mutate water into any kind of food.

He tests his machine, but there isn't enough power. So he wants to hook it up at the power plant. That day, the mayor (who is voiced by Bruce Campbell) plans to unveil a new attraction that he hopes will make Swallow Falls a tourist destination. Cutting the ribbon at the grand unveiling is Brent (voiced by Andy Samberg), who as a baby was a Coppertone-like mascot for the sardine cannery... and now he's all grown up, and successfully coasting on that fame, still acting like a baby (albeit one with groupies). The mayor has arranged for a major network- the weather channel- to send a reporter to cover the event. But the network just sends an intern, a cute and perky girl named Sam Sparks. (It doesn't take long to see that she's much smarter than she pretends [not] to be.) Meanwhile, Flint manages to get past the cop, Earl (voiced by Mr. T) who is guarding the power plant. And the test of his machine goes spectacularly awry, and ends with the thing flying off into the clouds, and the sardine theme park the mayor unveiled in ruins.

Later, Flint is sulking down by the docks, and Sam soon shows up to do the same. That's when they meet, and Flint quickly falls in love, because Sam is the first person who appreciates all his inventions. And Flint is the first person to appreciate Sam's true personality, which she's been hiding since she was a kid. Anyway, soon after they meet, it starts raining hamburgers. So Flint realizes his machine has actually worked far better than he expected. He begins programming and transmitting commands to the machine via satellite dish, and taking orders from everyone in town about what kind of foods they want it to rain. And Sam covers the story for her network. Suddenly Flint has the respect he's craved his whole life... from everyone except his father, who runs a bait and tackle shop, and just wants Flint to work with him. (Flint's mother, by the way, had died ten years earlier.) But, Flint's newfound popularity goes to his head, and he starts working with the mayor, who sees the invention as a new way of turning the town- which is renamed Chewandswallow- into a worldwide tourist destination.

Oh, I also need to mention that Flint has a monkey named Steve, who wears one of Flint's earlier inventions, a translation device. So we can hear Steve's thoughts, which are, um... pretty monkeylike. (Steve is voiced by Neil Patrick Harris.) Anyway... eventually Flint's machine starts producing dangerous food-weather, which nearly destroys the town, so Flint has to try to stop it, with help from Sam, her cameraman Manny, and surprisingly enough, Brent. So... I guess that's all I want to say about the plot. But, I cannot stress enough how amazing all the twists and turns are. From beginning. To end. And it's a pretty awesome end, in a few different ways. Like, seriously... wow. Transcendent.

Followed by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2


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