Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is probably the funniest movie that came out last year and honestly amused me more than Up. If I had paid attention to the voice talent and writers behind it, most notably those who were involved in Clone High, I probably would have taken a look at this film much sooner. What these people managed to put together, based on a children's book I must admit I had never heard of, turned out to be nothing short of hilarious.
Just about every time there's room for a joke or gag, you'll find one and on account of the way everything plays out in the story, none of these breaks the pacing or seems out of place. Some gags you have to look for and aren't essential to notice. The ones that are at the forefront of the film will still entertain you throughout the viewing. This gives you the go-ahead to watch the movie a few times without getting bored, seeing as you'll likely notice a new gag each time.
Several new and often unused computer animation techniques were used in Cloudy, most notably a new method of lighting that (very effectively) simulates real-world light. The character aesthetics were based somewhat on certain muppets and it works well. The lead's father, Tim Lockwood, looks very much like a buff version of the Swedish Chef. From a technical standpoint, Cloudy shows a significant amount of power put into it, sacrificing only a minor bit of style. Most noticeable of the few animation shortcomings are the really simple and bland ways characters walk.
The voice talent behind the movie deserves quite a bit of recognition for their performances here. Certain popular names tend to steal the show for most of their appearances: Mr. T as Earl and Neil Patrick Harris as Steve the monkey. Bill Hader plays the lead, Flint Lockwood, and pretty much suits the part perfectly.
The character that I found myself most amused by, however, was Joe Towne; a man who goes unnamed until the credits. He appears as a man wearing a fake beard and a red trucker hat. According to the commentary, the character was created as 'the voice of the town' in that 'every time the townspeople have something to say, it will come from him'. The result of this idea is a subtly hilarious character that you can't help but feel is completely insane and completely harmless because of that insanity, rather than despite it. One should also take note that Clone High's Will Forte (voice of Abe) plays Joe Towne.
On the downside, musical cues while fitting and well-done are simply not memorable. Those of you who read my review of The Princess & The Frog will remember I felt pretty much the same about the songs in that film. In this case, there are no songs performed by characters, but just the overall soundtrack felt a little bland.
As well, the story at it's core is nothing special. Nothing about it will have a 'mind-blowing' effect and it's all predictable but it never drags.
In the end, we have a movie that was more entertaining than Up for me, but maybe not quite on the same level of quality in the story it told. In any case, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a very amusing movie and, like my classmates before me, I highly recommend seeing it.