If you haven’t seen the commercials, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 comes out today! Fans have been waiting several months for this sequel to the critically acclaimed 2009 film that was based on the beloved children’s book. Parents and children are already flocking to one of the year’s most anticipated animated films, and it’s sure to be a success. But how has this relative newcomer to the animated franchise game become such a big hit in such a short time?

While both films deviated from the original, eponymous book, they were still in familiar territory. Children, and even their parents knew the name of the book and the similar story line, prompting them see the film without knowing much more.  But as a Sony Pictures Animation release, there wasn’t much of a risk, following hits like Surf’s Up, The Smurfs and Hotel Transylvania. Two major players in the studio’s early days (mid-2000s) are at the helm of Cloudy 2. Co-director Cody Cameron has worked as a story artist on Madagascar and the Shrek series, even voicing Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs in the latter films. His partner and co-director Kris Pearn has been involved in a number of Sony Animation films, including Surf’s Up, Open Season, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Both men worked on the first Cloudy film and have a strong idea of where the franchise should go.

Undoubtedly the main reason why audiences will be flocking to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 this weekend is the chemistry among the cast. Many people have enjoyed Bill Hader’s characters on Saturday Night Live, but he’s also done voice work on Grand Theft Auto IV, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Bob’s Burgers, and even Star Trek Into Darkness. As Flint Lockwood, his zany and erratic style of speaking have perfectly characterized the eccentric inventor. He works extremely well with the hilarious Anna Faris, who voices weatherwoman Sam Sparks. She came to fame as the clueless Cindy in the Scary Movie films, and has played many ditzy characters since then, which is perfect for the smart weather girl slowly seduced into Flint’s sporadic way of thinking. Also returning are James Caan as Flint’s father Tim, Andy Samberg as “Baby” Brent McHale, Benjamin Bratt as Manny the cameraman, and Neil Patrick Harris as Flint’s monkey, Steve (who knew?). Mr. T isn’t returning as Officer Earl Deveraux, but his almost exact vocal counterpart, Terry Crews, replaces him. Also joining the cast is Will Forte as Flint’s idol and new employer, Chester V, as well as talented vocal actress and comedian Kristen Schaal as his pet, Barb the organgutan.

Grab the kids and head to the theaters to see how Flint and his friends clean up his mess after the food satellite creates a land of sentient food creatures. Check showtimes and tickets here, and be sure to check out the latest on the Ron Howard film, Rush!