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‘Meatballs’ will leave you hungry for more

The characters Sam Sparks, voiced by Anna Faris, and Flint Lockwood, voiced by Bill Hader, are shown in a scene from  “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.” Columbia/Sony Pictures Animation (Columbia/Sony Pictures Animation / The Spokesman-Review)
The characters Sam Sparks, voiced by Anna Faris, and Flint Lockwood, voiced by Bill Hader, are shown in a scene from “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.” Columbia/Sony Pictures Animation (Columbia/Sony Pictures Animation / The Spokesman-Review)
Rick Bentley The Fresno Bee

The cinematic chefs who cook up animated offerings always face a dilemma: How do you make one dish that satisfies the often very different tastes of young and old?

They should look at the recipe used to make “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” based on the 1982 book by Judi and Ron Barrett.

Flint Lockwood (voiced by “Saturday Night Live’s” Bill Hader) has spent his entire life trying to invent something to help the world. Spray-on shoes seemed like a good idea until he discovered there was no way to remove them.

Lockwood hits upon the best invention since deep-fried Twinkies with his device to turn water into any food. Once in orbit, his machine begins to drop an entire menu on the community.

Beyond the global possibilities, the machine will be the savior for his island city of Swallow Falls, where sardines are the primary food.

All starts well. The mayor (Bruce Campbell) sees the machine as a way to lure tourists to the dying town. Lockwood makes an immediate connection to Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), the spunky weather channel intern assigned to cover the story.

All goes bad when the greedy mayor pushes the machine past safety limits. Swallow Falls – and the world – are about to be destroyed by a downpour of dining delicacies.

While the 3-D animation in this film is amazing, the movie would’ve been just as good without it.

Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who directed their own adaptation of the book, have created a visual style that is Muppets-meet-“Rocky and Bullwinkle.” The comical actions of the characters, who have a puppet-style look, play out against a backdrop of brilliant hues.

The movie is a visual smorgasbord, especially Lockwood’s secret laboratory. Electronic gimmicks of the 1980s – from a “Simon” game to an Atari joystick – are used to create the lab’s “Tron” design.

“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” is like the perfect gourmet meal – it’s visually stunning and only gets better once you sample it. It’s so good, it will leave you wanting seconds.

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