(In theatres, September 2009) In the crowded field of computer-animated 3D movies for kids, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is worth a look. A relentlessly imaginative and fast-paced fantasy that will appeal to younger audiences as much as it will amuse their older chaperons, this is a film that fully exploits the possibilities of computer-generated animation: The art direction strikes an ideal balance between believability and whimsy, while the visuals shown on-screen wouldn’t be possible (or pleasant to see) as live-action. How else, after all, do you make a movie about a scientist who invents a machine that makes food rain down on his town? Much of the film is a series of delightful moments in which the premise is milked for maximum laughs, at a relentless pace that will ensure a second viewing. The smaller surprise of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is the nerd-friendly characterization, in which a few courtship traditions are upended and pure geekiness eventually saves the day. It’s hard not to like a movie that has a hero with a wall poster about “Nikola Tesla –ROCKSTAR SCIENTIST”, and even harder not to like a film in which the female love interest is said to be more beautiful after she starts wearing glasses again. (Plus, hey, nice use of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”.) So it’s unfortunate that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs eventually damages itself with a number of ham-fisted emotional scenes that are too long and too obvious compared to the rest of the film. But overlooking those moments isn’t difficult when contemplating the inventive imagination that powers the film’s set-pieces. Now that there’s at least one computer-animated kid film in theatres per month, I’ll grudgingly suffer through one or two Igor if it means that I get a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in exchange.