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CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

About The Film
Sony Pictures Animation's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs began life in 1978 as a children's book written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett, which now has over a million copies in print. With its charming, visually inventive style, absurdist sense of humor, and fantastic premise – a town where food falls from the sky! – it seemed a foregone conclusion that the book would be adapted into an animated movie. But no one was quite able to do it until writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller came along and found inspiration from a seemingly obvious source – the book itself.

"It's a hilarious book and great inspiration,” says Miller – noting that it was their favorite book as kids. "The film we wrote starts with the book's overall structure – there's a town where food falls like rain, but that turns out to have great problems for the people – and builds from there. We get to find out the origins of how the town came to be Chewandswallow and follow an ensemble of unique characters through this crazy adventure.”

"We thought, wow, that would be a great action movie,” says Lord. "All of the events in the film would be very, very silly, but the characters would take them all very, very seriously.” And you'd take it seriously, too, if a giant spaghetti tornado threatened your town, as it does to Chewandswallow. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs represents the ultimate in food fun and mayhem.

"I always had the feeling that this would make a great animated movie, and it turns out, Sony Pictures Animation did, too,” says Judi Barrett, the author of the original book. "Though it needed stretching and development in length, characters, and plot, they saw all its wonderful possibilities. If you're a fan of the book you'll certainly recognize some of your very favorite and memorable iconic images in the movie. The end results are extraordinary – in fact, they're mind-boggling.”

One of the changes the filmmakers chose for the film is the look of the story itself. As delightfully whimsical as Ron Barrett's original cross-hatch illustrations are, the filmmakers felt that a feature-length film required a different approach. For inspiration, they found illustrations by Miroslav Sasek, whose 1950s series of books (including This is Paris, This is London, This is New York, etc.) feature a graphic, modern illustrative style. The filmmakers also drew inspiration from the Muppets, whose exaggerated and often silly gestures informed how they wanted their own characters to move. "The idea for the film was so silly, we felt that we needed the look to be silly,” says Miller. "Animation often requires exaggerated poses to convey the emotion of the scene, so we went with a look – big eyes, big mouths, big expressions – that gave the film an emotionally heightened feeling.”

Still, it seemed natural to the filmmakers to tip their hats to the book by re-creating some of its most memorable images – a giant Jell-O mold, a giant pancake settling over a school, a sandwich sailing ship, and several other images made their way into the film as the writer-directors built a new story around them.

In creating their new story for the film, the filmmakers would also invent a new cast of characters. At the center of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is Flint Lockwood, the wannabe inventor who yearns to invent something that will make people happy. And Flint's town is unhappy – since the sardine-canning factory closed down, all they have to eat are the gross leftover sardines. So Flint invents something to solve that problem – a machine that turns water into food. And when it actually works, "Flint goes from being an outcast to the hero of the town,” says Miller. "And Flint rolls with it,” continues Lord. "‘Well, I didn't mean for this to happen, but this is great!' Then, of course, it all starts to go wrong…”

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