I had never heard of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs until it became a movie. I had no idea it was a book. It was like the collective works of Dan Brown and John Grisham all over again. The conversations around the DadCentric water cooler were tense and awkward. I was mocked. Openly. Something cool and literary had escaped me- me, who is nothing if not cool and literary.

I needed answers. My first assumption was that the book must have come out after I was grown, hence it never crossing the path of my young, impressionable mind. However, it came out in 1978. I turned seven that year. I was still reading books and having them read to me. I wouldn’t discover women or whiskey for months. My publication theory failed.

I then decided the book must have been banned. That would make sense. The story teaches individuality and resourcefulness, which everyone knows burns like a son-of-a-bitch. But alas, it wasn’t banned. They probably had a copy in my own library. Damn liberals. My theory of availability was proven wrong.

Obviously the phenomenon was regional. I grew up in Arizona. Books are frowned upon there. I went to public schools and a state college. Sure, I worked in childcare for nearly ten years, but by that time kids had cable and video games. Books were the new 8-track.

I was feeling pretty good about the regional thing until I remembered the great minds that had come out of the Tucson area: Ray Bradbury, Jerry Bruckeimer, Brook Burke – and that’s just the B-list! There’s also Barbara Kingsolver, John Denver, Greg Kinnear, Kristen Wiig, David Foster Wallace and Jenny Finch, surely they read books or at least knew of them. Surely.

It wasn’t regional.

I decided to blame my parents. And I still do.

That being the case I wasn’t going to let my children grow up deprived as I had. I threw them in the family truckster, swung by Round Table for some heartburn and headed straight on to the cinema. The forecast? Cloudy. The price? Meatballs. Forty-six meatballs to be exact- wherein meatballs equals dollars. Holy hell, yes. $46! And that included two kid tickets. Note to self, books are less expensive.

Did I mention it was in 3-D? Is that a given these days? Well, it was and it was awesome.

The movie was very funny. The animation was amazing. It was near Pixaresque. Yes, I said that. OUT. LOUD.

Without giving too much away, and let’s face it, you’ve read the book, the story involves a young man, Flint Lockwood, with great shoes who marches to the beat of his own drummer boy. In this case I think it was Tyler Hawkins. Hilarity ensues.

The story, obviously based upon the CLASSIC book, was a breath of fresh air compared to the normal, brainless fodder thrown at children and their financial backers. Like any good movie aimed at the family audience it worked on many levels with jokes for kids and parents alike. There were even jokes designed for the parents that were smarter than other parents, hence my wife laughing at stuff that I didn’t get.

Also, monkeys and jello.

It’s a winner, people. I wasn’t even offered meatballs to say that, but I’d take some. Mmm, IKEA. And for dessert, the book. Topped with ice cream.

Hey, maybe that’s why I never read it. It was so good people ate it. Yes, that must be it.

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