As I’m sure any of you with children already know, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is coming out in theaters this Friday. In celebration, we’ve decided to compile a bit of info on the book and the movies. Whether you’re a fan of the book or a fan of the movie, you’ll almost certainly find something here of interest.
Similarities and Differences
Obviously a full-length movie couldn’t follow a short book like this one to a tee, so, there are some major differences. That being said, it seems like the writers did work to include as much as the original story as possible. Here are a few of the things that stayed the same:
- The town name. While the movie village is originally called “Swallow Falls,” the mayor eventually renames the town to the name used in the book, “Chewandswallow.”
- The Sanitation Department. Obviously any town that has food fall from the skies will have a serious problem if they just leave the mess all over the streets and sidewalk. Both the book and movie use specialized trucks to clean up the mess, though what they do with the leftovers differs. In the book, they feed the cats and dogs, then throw some in the ocean for the fishes and then put the rest in the ground so it will compost into good soil for flower gardens. In the movie, they make a mountain of food waste that eventually causes a dangerous landslide.
- Specific foods. In the book, the sunset is replaced with a Jell-o mold setting in the west that looks just like the one Flint makes for Sam. Both also feature a giant pancake that lands on the local school. Also, while it’s not a food exactly, both feature an open-air restaurant where patrons can catch their dinner as it falls.
- Danger. You can’t have a story without a climax, so in both tales, the food starts to become larger until it becomes truly problematic.
A few of the things that changed:
- Requests. Imagine having a food allergy in a town like Chewandswallow. If you can’t choose what rains down, you could easily die. Aside from that, you’d likely almost never get your favorite food, whereas in the movie, Flint’s invention allows the residents to call the shots –though that’s precisely what causes the food to start mutating.
- The people. In the book, the only people with actual identities are those in the family whose grandpa tells the tall tale of Chewandswallow. In the movie, the town is presented as a real location and the main characters are all residents of the town.
- Science. The idea of a town raining food naturally is just outlandish, but in the movie, it’s actually happens because a man’s invention that was made to turn water into food flies into a raincloud –turning all the local precipitation into food.
- The ending. In the book, the residents are forced to abandon Chewandswallow, but in the movie, the townspeople just rebuild their town using the giant food leftover on the street. There is one similarity though, the people in the book use a raft made from giant slices of bread and the movie shows the mayor ran away from the town on a boat made from bread –although the obese mayor eats most of his boat and sinks into the ocean.
Despite the differences, the original book's creators were pleased with the movie -though no word yet on how they feel about the sequel.
Speaking of endings, it seems the movie ending ends up not being the whole story as the sequel is said to (I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t verify this myself) start out with Flint and the rest of the town having to leave their food-filled town. Unfortunately, it turns out that his food machine is still in operation, so while they’re gone, it starts to create dangerous, sentient food creatures. When Flint and his friends return to the island hoping to clean up their mess, they are confronted with creatures such as tacodiles, shrimpanzees and mosquitoasts.
The book also had a sequel, but the movie does not follow this tale at all. In this tale, Pickles to Pittsburgh, the townspeople return to Chewandswallow, not to resume their lives there, but to use forklifts, cargo planes and other tools to ship out the massive foods in the area to the starving people of the world. You have to admire them for recognizing the weather patterns that almost ruined their lives as a great way to solve world hunger. Still, it’s easy to see why this might not make such a great movie –though it’s worth noting that Sony helped market their new movie by providing over 200,000 pounds of food for Feeding America, so in real life, the tale has actually helped feed hungry families.
In fact, that’s not the only sequel to the book. In Planet of the Pies, the family that was originally featured in the first book learns that astronauts landed on Mars –only to find that pie is falling from the sky. As it turns out, Grandpa, the one who told the original tale of Chewandswallow, has had prior dealings with the Martians.
There’s even a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Cookbook based on the original book with Grandpa offering up his favorite recipes based on the food that rained from the skies of Chewandswallow.
If you watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and kept thinking “I recognize that voice,” you’re probably right. In fact, you might just be amazed how many names you recognize from their list of voice actors. Of course, Bill Hader and Anna Faris are Flint and Sam, and you probably recognized Mr. T’s voice when Officer Earl spoke, but did you recognize James Cann as the voice of Flint’s father, or Neil Patrick Harris as the voice of Steve the Monkey, Bruce Campbell as Mayor Shelbourne, Andy Samberg as “Baby” Brent McHale, Al Roker as the weather station’s anchorman or Will Forte as the redneck Joesph Towne?
While most of these characters will be the same in the sequel, Terry Crews will be replacing Mr. T as Officer Earl and Will Forte will now be voicing Chester V. Fans of Kristen Schaal will be happy to know that she’s also been added to the cast, performing the voice of orangutan Barb.
Image Via Neon Tommy [Flickr]
About the Authors
It’s a bit surprising that as well known as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is, there’s surprisingly little information out there about the book’s author, Judi Barrett, and its illustrator, Ron Barrett. It’s not like the book is their only work either. In fact, Judi has published over 20 books, including another popular title, Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, which Ron also illustrated.
That being said, there is a little information out there about the Barretts. Judi obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute before working as a freelance designer for advertising agencies. In 1968, she started teaching art and woodworking to children.
Ron graduated from the High School of Industrial Art and while still in school, he apprenticed for graphic designer Lucian Bernhard while being mentored by Ervine Metzl, illustrator and President of the Society of Illustrators. He left such a mark on Metzl that the illustrator predicted he "...would either wind up in a mental institution or make a million dollars." Like Judy, Ron started his career in advertising, working as an art director at Young & Rubicam and Carl Ally. Eventually, he left advertising to work as an illustrator, author and puzzle maker. He wrote comic strips for National Lampoon and later worked on O.J.’s Legal Pad with Henry Beard and John Boswell.
At some point, the couple was married, after which they started working on books together, including Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Even after their divorce though, they continue to work together. These days, Judy continues to teach in Brooklyn and Ron is still illustrating. Most recently, they worked together to release Grandpa’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Cookbook.
Are you guys going to go see the sequel? Personally, I can’t wait, if only because I adore Steve the talking monkey.