Who's In It: The voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Al Roker, Lauren Graham, Will Forte
The Basics: Kids' books have improved since I was a child. I read one in elementary school called The Hundred Hamburgers about a fat boy who had to go on a diet while he dreamed of eating the title. Now there's this one--conveniently turned into a film so you never have to actually read it--about a satellite that you can program to rain your favorite dinner on your head until you're crushed by fried chicken and waffles and buckets of melted butter and syrup (my own personal fantasy food-storm). There are a lot of moral points made too, but they're more subtle and inventive than, "Stop eating so much, Fatty," which I seem to remember being the blunt truth of The Hundred Hamburgers.
What's The Deal: And what morals they are. Somehow, this hilarious, unfussy, kid-friendly movie contains allusions to American demands for huge portions, gastronomic imperialism, genetically modified Franken-vegetables, the dominance of corn and processed foods, greed, the obesity epidemic, Hurricane Katrina, parenting, unrealistic beauty standards, Star Wars, childhood bullying, parent-child communication dynamics, social entitlement and what exactly Jello is made of. There's also a really stupid monkey voiced by Neil Patrick Harris. No matter what you want from this movie you're pretty much guaranteed to get it.
Brat Restlessness Factor: Very low. I sat in a row in front of two little girls and their mother. Before the movie I thought I might have to move, those annoying kids were so full of whining questions. I assumed they'd continue on that path for the entire running time. But the second the film started they uttered nothing but giggles.
MVP, Besides Neil Patrick Harris: Mr. T. When is he not a welcome presence? I mean, yes, it's hard to hear his voice come out of another character and not assign Mr. T-like qualities to that animated fictional person. His voice does precede him. But so what? He's Mr. T. I could tell it was Queen Latifah and Ray Romano voicing those wooly mammoths in Ice Age 3, too. At least Mr. T acts like he's interested in being there.
Where To Avoid Seeing It: If you're like me and IMAX 3-D gives you eye strain and headaches, then skip it in those locations. If you can find it in plain old digital 3-D or neanderthal-era 2-D then go with those instead.