In the fall of 2002, MTV premiered “Clone High,” a deliriously funny spoof of teen dramas and world history. Less than 4 months later the show was canceled due to the fatal combination of mediocre ratings and a hunger strike protesting a comedic depiction of Gandhi. Show-runners Chris Miller and Phil Lord went on to work as producers on “How I Met Your Mother.” And for a few years, that was that. Now, Lord and Miller have returned with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” a film that is equal parts adaptation of the popular children’s book and big screen take on their too-cool-for-the-room sitcom. The film tells the story of Flint Lockwood, an amateur scientist who is as bad with inventions as he is with women. He lives at home and spends all of his time in the backyard creating things like rat/pigeon hybrids. After Flint singlehandedly destroys the town, his father finally demands that he grows up and joins the family business selling fish bait. All is lost until Flint finally creates something useful, a machine that turns water into food. This being a children’s film, it only makes junk food (and the eponymous pasta dish). His invention brings fame, fortune and Sam Sparks (Flint, Spark, get it?), a spunky young meteorologist, to the town. The first hour of the film hits all the expected zany cartoon wish fulfillment beats. The loser becomes king. The bully is dethroned. The geek gets a chance to get the girl. The outcast is finally understood as an individual. And then things go crazy. One might be able to guess where the story goes, but most would be hard pressed to figure out just how over the top things get. Once the food machine begins to malfunction, as all movie inventions must, the film turns from a typical children’s fantasy into something much stranger. The food has become sentient, you see, and is intent on taking over the world. Yes, “Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs” is the kind of film that reenacts scenes from “Aliens” with giant roasted chickens replacing Xenomorphs and features a climactic battle between a talking monkey and a half dozen ninja gummy bears who tear it up on the wing of an airplane flying through the center of a spaghetti tornado. But, even before things get really warped, the film is unusually sly. The first big laugh of the movie comes courtesy of a poster reading “Nikola Tesla: Rock Star Scientist.” It’s the kind of background joke that will go over most viewers’ heads, but it is a clear indication that this movie aims a bit higher than most. There is a subtle undercurrent of subversiveness within the film too. Instead of buying into the idea that the nerdy guy can get the girl, the film flips the script as Sparks starts out as a grade-A animated piece of ass but transforms into a scrunchie-wearing, four-eyed, smarty pants who saves the day by risking anaphylactic shock while braving murderous peanut brittle. But in the middle of all the insanity, something strange happens: the characters hit real, emotionally viable beats. When Flint loses hope, the audience cares. Though the film seems dead set on being glib it ultimately carries a big, big heart. There is a father-son generational gap subplot that works infinitely better than it has any right to and meaty emotional arcs for all the principal characters. You’d never guess it by the trailers, but this is a very well written movie. Though the film is rated PG, it is hardly a children’s affair. Instead it is more in line with the dada-esque humor of Andy Samberg’s “SNL Digital Short” sketches. In fact, writer/directors Lord and Miller previously produced Samberg’s comedy troupe show “Awesometown.” There is nothing explicitly inappropriate for children, but most of the humor is aimed squarely at the ironic, thrift-store-wearing hipster set. The kids will mesmerized by the bright colors and falling junk food, while their older siblings will laugh at the inside jokes. If there is a major flaw in the movie, it is that it almost ensures a severe case of the munchies.