Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
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Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
2.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Street Date:
January 5th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
January 4th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Sony Pictures
Length:
90 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

I have the worn and tattered children's book by my side as I write this review. It was one of my all-time favorite books as a child. Some nights as I stared at the strange bubbling casserole my mom had just made, I wished I were in the land of Chewandswallow. A land where (good) food fell from the sky.

In the original story of 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,' two children are told a tall tale by their grandpa about a land where there are no food stores, a land where people wait for their next meal by holding out plates and hoping something falls on them. At breakfast time, a storm front of eggs and bacon would push across the city, lunchtime would see showers of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and dinnertime would consist of spaghetti and meatballs falling like manna from heaven.

Sony Animation has taken that classic story and turned it into a movie so fun and so subtlety clever that 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' can be put up there with some of the Pixar films.

In order to flesh the story out a bit more, Sony opted to can the storytelling grandpa in order to tell a feature-length story. Swallow Falls is nestled on an island off the coast of America, conveniently placed under the letter "A" in "Atlanic" on the map. Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) has always wanted to be a great inventor, but his inventions seem to always go awry. That includes an out of control flock of "rat-birds," (exactly what they sound like) that have a penchant for picking up children and flying away with them.

Swallow Falls had been living the high life when the sardine business was booming, but now, since the world has realized sardines are "super gross," the town has been plunged into a state of economic disarray.

Flint, spurred on by the plight of his town, invents a machine that can make food from water. After a mishap trying to get the machine to work, and after ruining the town's opening of their newest attraction, the machine shoots up into the sky and out of sight.

Then it starts to rain cheeseburgers!

'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' isn't a hum-drum kiddie CGI flick that you'll be sleeping through while your kids laugh. This is one of the most cleverly written and animated films of the year. There are so many subtle jokes, and witty one-liners, that parents may end up having a better time watching this movie than their kids. Flint invents a monkey thought translator that he puts on his pet monkey Steve (STEVE!). It's funny, because Steve isn't smart like most animal sidekicks. His inner thoughts consist of "lick, lick, lick." For some reasons he loves mustaches. I was cracking up over Christmas break when I looked into the backseat of my brother-in-law's van to see my little 5 year-old niece reaching across the seat to her brother saying, "Muusssstache…" as she tried to grab imaginary facial hair.

Man, this movie is funny. It's full of clever details (If you were making snow angels in ice cream, wouldn't you make them face first?). There's colorful animation and some zany and loveable characters. I know I've spoken out about big name actors doing voice work for films, and that kids couldn't care less about it. I stand by that statement, but here even though there are some big names, they seem to be people that actually put some feeling and acting into their voices. There are no A-List stars here, but Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, and James Caan all do wonderful work with the parts they're given.

'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' will require repeat viewings to catch all of its little nuances and slightly off-screen jokes, but everything about it is so fun and enjoyable that you won't mind watching it again and again.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer on this release looks exactly as you'd hope. This is near perfection. 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' was purposefully given a more cartoony look, and it works here. Colors are bright and vivid. Blacks are nice and deep, and delineation is as revealing as ever. Fine detail is one of the many highlights of this video presentation. The food falling from the sky is so detailed that you think you could pick it right off the screen and start eating it. The CG animation is perfectly rendered, with each and every scene nearing the ever-elusive demo-worthy quality. While Pixar films like 'Up' may indeed be more detailed in their animation, there's nothing here - except for some ever-so-slight banding - that keeps this release from perfection. This is definitely one you'll want to use to show off your HD.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The DTS-MA 5.1 lossless audio track brings just about as much to the table (pun intended) as the AVC-encoded video. Engaging throughout, this soundtrack is full of fun and exciting effects that whirl around the surround channels. As gigantic food rains down, the surround channels are rarely at rest. LFE is plentiful when giant meatballs and corn cobs land with thunderous thuds on top of buildings. Dialogue is never drowned out up front, even with all the action going on around you. This soundtrack is every bit as entertaining and engulfing as those created for Pixar Blu-rays like 'Up' and 'Monsters, Inc.'

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Some may be slightly disappointed to learn there is no 3D option available here. It's OK though, because this movie was one of the first that I've seen that didn't use any really stupid 3D gimmicks like the paddle ball flying at the screen in 'Monsters vs. Aliens.' There's no time when you'll be able to tell if something was made especially for 3D.

  • Audio Commentary - Bill Hader (the voice of Flint), and co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller offer a fun and fairly zany commentary to accompany the film. Miller and Lord are nutcases, plain and simple. You'll find this out from some of the other special features. When they get together with Hader… well, it gets a little crazy. They have some good chemistry, which translates into a not-so-dull commentary that is pretty fun to listen to.
  • A Recipe for Success: The Making of 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' (HD, 11 min) - Lords and Miller get together and offer up some insight into what went into making the movie. They are weird, and you can tell that they sit around laughing at each other about 90 percent of the day. They use a silly analogy with a book and some hamburger meat. Interviews with the voiceover cast are given.
  • "Raining Sunshine" Music Video (SD, 4 min) - Where did this come from? Why must every release of a children's movie include a ridiculous music video? I just don't understand it. A Sing-a-long version is also included.
  • Behind the Scenes of Miranda Cosgrove's "Raining Sunshine" Music Video (SD, 2 min) - Just in case you didn't get enough music video excitement when you watched it, now you can see how it's made. Ugh.
  • Extended Scenes (HD, 3 min) - Two extended scenes are included here. An extended elevator scene on the way up to Flint's lab, which has unfinished animation. The other one has to do with the spaghetti twister at the end where the police officer and his little boy get sucked up.
  • Key Ingredients: The Voices of 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' (HD, 12 min) - There's some fun footage of Hader and Faris doing voice work in the studio, chomping down on burgers while they say their lines to give them authenticity. Hearing from Mr. T and seeing him do his voices is worth watching this feature. He's hilarious, and his laugh… man… that laugh. How does that come out of him? I'll never know.
  • Progression Reels with Introductions by Visual FX Supervisor Rob Bredow (HD, 9 min) - Various bits of animation are shown, giving us an idea the kind of extensive work that goes into making a CGI movie.
  • Early Development Scenes (HD, 6 min) - These are storyboard, hand-drawn sequences that show some early ideas for 'Cloudy.' One where Flint writes a letter to a favorite scientist, and the other is an early story board of the twister.
  • A bunch of high-def trailers are included. 'Hachi: A Dog's Take,' 'Open Season 3,' 'Planet 51,' Open Season, (the underappreciated!!) The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep,' 'Open Season 2,' 'Surf's Up,' 'Monster House,' and 'Daddy Day Camp.'

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

A PSP Digital Copy is available to transfer from your PS3 to your PSP. A DVD copy of the film is also included.

  • Interactive "Splat" Feature (HD) - While pretty silly, this feature is kind of fun and may have your kids rolling with laughter. When selected, the movie starts playing, but this time a control panel is at the bottom. Using your remote you can flip food at the screen where it splats and stays until you clean it off with a squeegee, only to start over. Foods that can be thrown are eggs, cherry pies, meatballs, and whipped cream pies.
  • Flint's Food Fight Game – Enhanced for Blu-ray (HD, min) - A space invaders knock-off that pits you against Flint's food making machine.

Final Thoughts

Sure, Pixar is still king of the CGI world, but they may have some competition if Sony keeps putting out quality titles like 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.' This is such a cleverly delightful movie, with stellar audio and video presentations, that it's a must own for families, and highly recommended for everyone else. Its infinite rewatchability value just solidifies the deal. Pick this one up!

Technical Specs

  • TBA
  • BD/DVD Combo

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound
  • French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Directors' commentary with Bill Hader
  • “Raining Sunshine” music video by iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove
  • Interactive "Raining Sunshine" sing-a-long
  • Behind the scenes of Miranda Cosgrove's "Raining Sunshine" music video
  • Make It Rain Food
  • A Recipe for Success: The Making of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  • Key Ingredients: The Voices of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  • Flint's Food Fight Game - enhanced for Blu-ray
  • Extended scenes
  • Early development scenes
  • Progression reels with introductions by visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow

Exclusive HD Content

  • Interactive "Splat" button (throw food at the screen while you watch the movie!)

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