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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs



Not as sharply satirical as it could be, but twice as funny as it needed to be to entertain kids, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is a surprisingly comic tale of an inventor who finds a way to make food out of plain water is a buffet table of pleasures.

Tulsan Bill Hader ("Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs") is Flint Lockwood, whiz kid inventor on a small Atlantic island that has one reason to exist:  sardines. When the rest of the world realizes that sardines, as food, suck, Flint develops his machine. The local mayor (Bruce Campbell, TV's "Burn Notice") sees it as the island's excuse for survival, as a tourist Mecca where pizza and hot dogs fall from the sky.

TV intern weather girl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris, "Observe and Report") is sent to cover the story. She rediscovers her inner nerd and joins Flint when his machine goes into More-Than-All-You-Can-Eat overload, and meatballs the size of Hummers threaten to explode the dam that's been keeping the leftovers at bay.

Written for the screen and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (TV's "Clone High"), and costarring the voices of James Caan, Andy Samberg and Mr. T, this is just the comedy with which to end the summer. The animation is wonderfully cartoony, the dialogue is amusing, and yes, there is a lesson to be learned about opening up and just being yourself.

Oh, and you can see this one in 3-D, if you're so inclined. The effect works well, but doesn't overwhelm the story.

"?Doug Bentin

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