Manna from Heaven – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

A wonder.  So this is about an inventor by the name of Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader).  He creates a machine that has the ability to turn water in to food.  When it accidentally gets shot into the stratosphere, it starts raining different delicious foods down on a town that only produces sardines, but is this really a good thing?  I’ve already known this for eight years now, but this is actually my favorite animated movie of all time, and with good reason.  It is unexpected, lightening fast paced, and it is laugh-until-you cry hilarious.  Even upon multiple viewings, it still makes me laugh out loud raucously; multiple viewings for an animated movie is normal if it is quality, but when you can get a comedy where the jokes still hit the second and third time around, that’s impressive, because so much of comedy relies on the element of surprise.

2Ladies and gentlemen, the FLDSMDFR.

Now if you haven’t seen this, I know what you’re probably thinking: “But John, this is a 30 page children’s book, how could this possibly make for a worthwhile animated feature?”  Those who have seen this, however, already know what’s up.  This is created by geniuses Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who just flat out understand the anatomy of comedy.  It would be one thing if this had a ratio of 8 to 10 jokes that work.  Everybody would still be happy with this, and nobody would even complain.  But that’s not good enough for them.  While there are a couple of gross out moments when dealing with gigantic food as to be expected, every single joke has a punch line that hits.  From Neil Patrick Harris as the voice of Steve, the primate with a monkey thought translator who only speaks in single word sentences to Mr. T as the town cop who frequently butts heads with our protagonist, every single one of these characters are vibrant and have a lot of personality injected to a very short amount of time.  When you chop off the end credits, this is really only about eighty minutes long, and I truly envy you if you get to watch this for your first time.

1It is also an exercise in creativity, because they think of tons of different things to do with the oversized food.

To highlight how much I back this movie, my final paper/presentation for a college film class I took was about this paper, and I also created Flint’s invention, the FLDSMDFR for a stage prop class (it just looked the look, it didn’t actually turn water into food).  If you can’t tell already, I 100% love this zany animated movie, and I have watched it more times than I can count.  It’s not even taking a chance on it, you just need to take the time to watch it; every single person I have shared this with has thanked me for doing so.  I hold this film dear to my heart, and I think that you will too.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) *****

– Critic for Hire

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