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CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

3-D is here to stay. The technology has progressed to a point where the images are crystal clear, the glasses are unobtrusive and the formerly dizzying effects have vanished.

But mainly, 3-D will continue to be a regular feature at your local cinema because the theatres and studios can charge a premium that audiences have, up until now, been willing to pay.

The latest computer animated 3-D offering will help the cause, too. “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” is a funny, imaginative and skillfully realized adaptation of a popular children’s book.

Writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (TV’s “How I Met Your Mother”) have adapted the whimsical book by Judi and Ron Barrett into a very amusing poke at American consumerism.

Bill Hader from “Saturday Night Live” provides the voice for Flint Lockwood, a nerdy but extremely bright young lad who lives on a tiny island called Swallow Falls. A wannabe inventor, Flint has grown into young manhood only to see all of his inventions fail miserably.

But his patient dad (voiced by James Caan from TV’s “Las Vegas”) allows Flint to continue his tinkering, even though he’d like him to work in his bait shop.

Swallow Falls is suffering from bad economic times. The island’s only industry, sardines, takes a big hit when people realize that they taste bad.

Flint designs a device that turns water into food. Through a series of miscues, the machine is rocketed into the clouds and (you guessed it) it begins to rain cheeseburgers.

This amazing phenomenon attracts worldwide attention that the island’s opportunistic mayor (Bruce Campbell from “Spiderman 3”) intends to take full advantage of.

What starts out as a boon for the islanders turns out to be a disaster when the machine malfunctions and inundates the island with a tsunami of delicious entrées. Yes, too much of a good thing ain’t so good.

While the 3-D effects and CGI visuals are first-rate, perhaps the movie’s best attribute is its sharp comic timing. Lord and Miller give the movie a pleasing pace that manages, for the most part, to avoid becoming too annoyingly manic.

Plus, they’ve fleshed out a short children’s book into a feature-length movie without making it seem too padded.

Among the additional voice talent on board are Anna Faris, Mr. T, Benjamin Bratt Andy Samberg, Neil Patrick Harris and (appropriately) Al Roker.

There is only drawback to “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” If you don’t go in with a full stomach, a trip to the concession stand will probably be a necessity. (PG) Rating: ***1/2

* Avoid at all costs
** Only if you're bored
*** Good movie
**** Well worth your time
***** Be sure to see it

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