Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

  • Review Date: September 10, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 81 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Age-appropriate food adventure goes down easily.
  • Review Date: September 10, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 81 minutes





What parents need to know

Educational value

Not much, unless you consider the movie as some sort of lesson about not eating genetically modified food.

Positive messages

Kids may take away positive ideas about being liked for who you really are and not having to change your appearance just to be cool. There's also a recurring theme about parents needing to have faith in their children, as well as negative consequences for unchecked greed.

Positive role models

Flint shows Sam that she's beautiful even when she's "nerdy" and that she shouldn't dumb herself down for anyone. Flint's father learns to be supportive.

Violence & scariness

A hurricane of food threatens to destroy Chew and Swallow, as well as other major cities around the world. Characters are in danger/peril due to enormous falling food -- and other food mutations (including somewhat creepy headless chickens). The "rat birds" are humorously creepy and pop up again and again -- in one case, a rat bird snatches up the "world's biggest sardine."

Sexy stuff

Sam and Flint flirt with each other on several occasions, and in one sequence it's clear that Flint is "pursuing" Sam to be his girlfriend. After almost kissing a couple of times, they finally do kiss.


Mild insults and language include "hell hole," "knuckle scrapers," "crazy jerk," "stupid," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adaptation of the classic children's book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is bound to attract the 10-and-under set. While there's nothing overtly age-inappropriate in the movie, expect a bit of salty language along the lines of "hell" and and the occasional mild insult like "stupid" or "knuckle scrapers." The few tense/slightly scary scenes are weather- and giant food-related -- which could upset little kids who are sensitive to fears about natural disasters -- and there's a brewing romance between the main character and a weather reporter. Although no grand life lessons are offered, the movie does center on a son's need for fatherly encouragement and the idea that you shouldn't compromise who you are just to be popular. The movie's plot is very different than the book's, so those expecting a straight adaptation may be disappointed.

Parents say

What's the story?

Based loosely on the popular children's book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, this animated adventure takes the book's story about a town where weather provides fully cooked meals and turns it into a 3-D fantasy about Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), a young inventor who creates a device that transforms water into food. When Flint's invention is launched into the sky, he inadvertently saves the town of Swallow Falls from financial and nutritional ruin. Helping the town make its unique claim to fame is weather reporter Sam (Anna Faris), who's smitten with Flint. As the Swallow Falls residents (especially the fatter-and-fatter mayor, voiced by Bruce Campbell) become greedier with their daily meal requests, Flint's invention becomes more and more overheated -- until it leads to a culinary disaster that could destroy the world.

Is it any good?


Sony Pictures Animation may not be Pixar (and, to be fair, no other animation studio is Pixar -- yet), but it previously scored with the fantastically imaginative Monster House, the charming buddy comedy Open Season, and the penguin's paradise Surf's Up. Cloudy is the studio's first foray into the profitable 3-D genre, and thanks to all of the food sequences, it's an ideal choice for the technology. The voice talent is there (Faris, in particular, is an adroit voice actress, and Mr. T is laugh-aloud funny as an overly eager town cop), though the story is so far removed from the book upon which it's supposedly based that it will likely take a moment for admirers of the picture book to see the correlation beyond the fact that there's food falling from the sky.

But once fans of the book reset their expectations, they'll laugh at the sight of a Neapolitan-ice-cream snowfall or a drizzle of steak falling onto diners' plates at a trendy, roofless restaurant. The food in the movie isn't magical like in the book; it's the result of a science experiment that eventually runs amok. But that's fine, because the funny dialogue and the colorful food scenes are entertaining enough to make this breezy, amusing adventure a sweet treat for the whole family.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' message about compromising yourself for the sake of popularity. Is that ever worth it? How does Sam change once she knows that Flint likes that she's actually smart?

  • How does the movie portray technology? When does the experiment go wrong?

  • Why does Flint want his father's approval so badly? Does his father have a point in discouraging Flint's inventions?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 18, 2009
DVD release date:January 5, 2010
Cast:Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, Bill Hader
Directors:Chris Miller, Phil Lord
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters
Run time:81 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:brief mild language

This review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written bySnoozhe October 4, 2009

Younger than 5 can watch, but won't enjoy it as much.

I'm surprised at how much myself and my family liked this movie. It was silly, of course, but the most humorous parts continued through the movie--keeping the laughs coming. I heard people laughing out loud, which I haven't heard in a long time. It was a really fun movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 6 year old Written byarobulack March 26, 2010

Kids Movie of 2009: Funny, Witty, and Lighthearted

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I've watched this movie at least 5 times with my 6-year-old, but we both absolutely love it. The script is amazing, the dialogue is super witty, and the storyline is perfect in pitch, length, and tone. Some of the jokes are laugh-out-loud funny (if you set aside your critical facilities and just prepare for fun), and the segues between some of them are absolutely brilliant. Personally, this was the kids movie of the year in 2009 for me.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byDr.Pepper October 14, 2010

Why is this only rated two stars?

This is a very nice movie. It does contain many scenes that little kids might find frightening such as a character being "eaten" by giant cooked chicken (he survived, so no worries). Also there is mild language such as "hellhole" and "holy crap"


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