When a gifted young boy loses his mother, he hatches a crazy plan with his quirky best friend and the local bum to ascend into the troposphere and offer her an apology she just might hear.
Cloudhopper is about a brilliant child’s struggle to understand what happens to a person’s essence when they die. Imagine a child drawn to logic and science, but still inhabiting the magical thinking of youth. Desperate to find forgiveness from his mother after she dies unexpectedly, eight-year-old Mica uses his deductive reasoning to form a solution. Mica concludes that a person’s essence proceeds through oxidation. Using a series of chemical equations, he determines he has roughly six weeks to contact his mother and seek her forgiveness.
Inspired by his mother’s favorite children’s book, Mica sets on a journey to build a hot air balloon and soar up to the atmosphere, where he believes his mother will see him, and where h will find her forgiveness. Mica struggles when no one will accept his theory or help him build a balloon. He is a bullied misfit who has been alienated from his workaholic father and overbearing grandmother. Even his best friend, an outcast named Cindy, thinks he’s going crazy.
Armed with unbelievable drive, Mica overcomes a series of obstacles to create his first attempt at airworthiness. Flying a balloon inspired by the Montgolfier flier; fashioned from silk, an old lawn chair, and a gas grill; Mica sets the school’s spirit banners ablaze in a crash. Believing all is lost, Mica throws in the towel. At his darkest moment, a bum has been feeding, surprises him with parachutes from the Salvation Army. Together, Mica, Cindy, and the bum build an airworthy tetrahedron balloon.
Desperate to get to his mother before she converts and before his father ships him off to Catholic school, Mica steals his mother’s car and sneaks off in the night. Discovered by an Amber Alert, Mica, Cindy, and the bum struggle to get in the air before the police and media descend. They just make it. In the air, as the sun crests the horizon, Mica releases a paper airplane containing an apology to his mother. As the balloon soars, light creates a magical environment on the balloon and in the hearts of its inhabitants. Mica believes his mother received his message.
The wind carries Mica’s balloon into dangerous territory. Plunged into a lake, on the verge of drowning, the bum comes to Mica’s rescue. He is revived in the face of the police, a news crew, and his father. The bum is taken away in cuffs and Mica is in an ambulance.
Mica’s father finally comes through for him. Abandoning his job to be with his son, he uses his skills to break the bum into a plea leading to treatment. Mica and his father, Cindy and her parents, and the bum, find redemption at last. Back to school, Mica and Cindy become heroes. Instead of using their new status for revenge, they embrace the bully that tormented them. Through their journey, they have learned the sheer power of forgiveness.