It's Raining Meatballs!
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the movie opens Friday
Hey look out! It's raining meatballs! Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an eye-popping 3-D animated comedy produced by Sony. It opens in theaters nationwide in both 3-D and 2-D Imax on Friday.
There is more to this story than food falling from the sky. The movie is about two people who want to change how other people see them in the world.
Inspired by the book of the same title written by Judi Barrett, the movie introduces a colorful new cast of characters not in the book.
Flint Lockwood (voiced by Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader), is a young inventor from Swallow Falls and Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Farris) is a new intern with the Weather News Network. Both struggle to achieve their dreams: Flint wants one of his inventions to actually work, while Sam longs for a chance to cover real news events.
Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord explained how they created these memorable characters and shaped their story.
"We thought a lot about big Hollywood action movies and the kinds of characters that are in those," Miller said. "We read the book and felt that the structure of the book was similar to the structure of a movie like Jurassic Park. In a movie, you want your audience to be invested and care about the characters and really follow the story."
The events take place in the small island town of Swallow Falls. Flint finally achieves his dream—a machine that turns water into food, but then everything goes wrong and it blasts off into space. Suddenly, clouds appear and cheeseburgers begin to rain from the sky.
The citizens of Swallow Falls go wild! They finally have a new way to attract attention from the rest of the world—and they can quit eating sardines.
Flint begins to take orders, sending the machine special requests for hot dogs, steaks, corn-on-the-cob, ice cream, you name it. Flint becomes the new town hero in the renamed community of Chewandswallow Falls.
Sam Sparks, the weather news intern who was in town to cover the opening of Sardine Land, witnesses the cheeseburger bounty. Flint and Sam become friends as Sam covers the wild weather events now feeding the town.
You'll have to see the movie to find out how Flint and Sam work together to save the town and possibly the world from an overload of too much giant food.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is an impressive movie with terrific acting, including the young man who voices Cal, the policeman's son. Bobb'e J. Thompson said he learned a lot making this movie, which he enjoyed because he didn’t have to deal with makeup and wardrobe.
"The message that stuck out with me is to be comfortable with who you are," he said. "I'm in the eighth grade and am not the height of the rest of my class. But I don't worry about that. I'm just me!"
The animation is also exceptional. The food looks incredibly real, but proved a challenge to create. Miller and Lord said they picked foods that were graphically easy to see and understand. For instance, while you will see a lot of turkey legs, hot dogs, donuts, and pretzels, broccoli does NOT make an appearance. Too many tiny details, the directors said.
"We also tried to do as many of the foods and moments that were in the book, like the pancake on the school and the spaghetti twister," Lord said.
One of the most fun and interesting scenes in the movie is when the two main characters experience a Jello mold from the inside! The scene morphed from a Jello sunset in the book into giant edible bouncy house in the movie.
"It was a really complicated and hard set to build because the space is constantly wobbling around and the light is reflecting and refracting all over," Miller said. "It almost blew up the computer. It is the most complex computer generated set ever attempted!"
Overall, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a hilarious comedy for viewers of all ages.
You can read more about how the book became a movie in interviews with author Judi Barrett and book illustrator Ron Barrett.
Alexis Wiseman is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.