In August of 2006, Sony Pictures Animation announced plans for a film adaptation of Judi Barrett’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The film, three years in the making, is scheduled for theatrical release in September of this year.
According to Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animations, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs will be “the most delicious event since macaroni met cheese.” The film features the vocal talents of Saturday Night Live Costars Bill Hader (Pineapple Express) and Andy Samberg (I Love You, Man), Anna Faris (Observe and Report), James Caan (The Godfather), Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice), Tracy Morgan (30 Rock), and even Mr. T.
Bill Hader (rather, I should say, Bill Hader’s voice) stars as Flint Lockwood, a scientist with a lot of bizarre ideas that never seem to pan out. That is until a stroke of “genius” helps Lockwood discovers the ability to change water into food. His invention might just help all of mankind . . . if they aren’t all buried in hamburgers, pancakes, and spaghetti with meatballs first.
A Look at the Book
Fans of Judi Barrett’s famous children’s book might be a little confused. Understandably, the film version requires a little background explanation.
Barrett’s book tells the story of a town called Chewandswallow. In this peculiar town, the weather comes three times a day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But the rain isn’t just rain; it’s juice and soup. The snow is more than snow; it’s mashed potatoes. And what else should be blowin’ in the wind but hamburgers. All in all, this easy access to delicious foods made the townspeople of Chewandswallow pretty happy. That is, until it started flooding and storming food. The school is closed when it is smothered by a giant pancake, and giant meatballs wreak havoc on the town. The townspeople must come up with a solution, and fast! In case you haven’t read the book, I won’t ruin the end for you, but suffice it to say, the people of Chewandswallow will have to learn some more traditional styles of living by the time this bizarre weather ends.
How Will the Movie Be Different?
The film, rather than following Barrett’s storyline, seeks to explain exactly how this whole weather phenomenon got started. Also, instead of following Barrett’s first-person narrative style, the film version introduces a whole new cast of characters. Besides Flint Lockwood, there’s Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), a weathergirl who covers the Chewandswallow phenomenon, and several other quirky characters sure to liven things up as meatballs and other culinary delicacies come raining down across the big screen.
A book Lost in Translation?
Of course, with the shift of focus between the book and the movie, much of the original appeal of the book is bound to be lost in the film translation. Teachers across the nation found no end to the amount of lessons gleaned from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Lessons about various forms of weather, human-environment interactions, the food groups, and even immigration abound with the original version. With the film, there is a chance the weather-related, and other scientific, lessons will still apply, but not in the same ways as with the book. And while the book had a strong focus on engaging the imaginations of children-some grown-up kids will still swear they smell mashed potatoes when it snows-the film is sure to draw more on the audience’s knowledge of popular culture. According to the Sci Fi Wire, the directors have already stated the film will serve as a spoof to modern disaster films such as The Day After Tomorrow.
Fans of Barrett’s classic children’s book may take some issue to this loose interpretation of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. After all, very little of the original story translates into the film, with the exception of the culinary weather phenomenon. However, those who enjoyed the book may also take pleasure in this film’s interpretation of what led to those same culinary catastrophes!
Sony Pictures Animation, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Website
Patrick Lee, Meatballs Spoofs Disaster Flicks, Sci Fi Wire