Movie Review: ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ starring Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte
For me, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a huge surprise hit. I went in expecting to see what appeared to be a cute, run-of-the-mill children’s film. Instead what received was an extremely clever, smart and consistently entertaining movie that nears the top of my all-time favorites for kids. As the case often is, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn’t quite hold up to the high expectations set by the first film. Yet it is still a lot of fun for all parties involved.
Pretty much the entire cast of characters for the first film are back. The film picks up right after the end of the first one, after Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) has destroyed his greatest invention – the “FLDSMDFR,” which turns water into food. When one of his greatest idols, famous inventor Chester V (Will Forte), shows up to the island to help clean up the food disaster, Flint and his friends are relocated to fictional San Franjose. It is there that Flint is given a job at Live Corp, where he furiously crafts new inventions in hopes of impressing Chester V and becoming one of his “Thinkquanauts” and donning the infamous orange vest.
Meanwhile back at Swallow Falls, Chester V and his team are secretly trying to find the FLDSMDFR in order to use it for their own agenda – the release of their “Food Bar 8.0.” But things don’t go according to plan when they find the machine is still operational – only this time it isn’t just creating giant food items. Flint’s creation starts to produce huge food monsters that have overrun the island. In order to recover the device in time for the launch, Chester V enlists Flint to return to the island and find the device. Against Chester’s wishes, he brings his girlfriend weather-girl Sam (Anna Faris), father Tim (James Caan), ex-baby Brent (Andy Samberg), cameraman Manny (Benjamin Bratt) and faithful lab companion/monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) along for the adventure. Unfortunately Mr. T didn’t return for the sequel, but Terry Crews does a fine job as police officer Earl Devereaux.
The animation in the film is clean and beautiful, holding up to the high standards created by its predecessor. For the longest time, Pixar and Dreamworks were the big men on campus – but Sony Animation has proven that it can match their high standards in quality and excellence. The 3D in the film is handled well, not creating so many gimmicky effects as it does providing depth for the spectacularly crafted island. The colors remain crisp and vibrant even through the darkly shaded glasses.
There is a lot to enjoy in this sequel, but it just doesn’t have the same spark that the first ‘Cloudy’ had. Much of the enjoyment I found in the original came from Flint’s inventions and the running gags. We get a small taste of his inventions toward the beginning, and there are a couple of callbacks to the original, but they don’t last long. The beginning of the film starts off quite slowly too, with a bit too much exposition before things get started. They try to give you a full recap of the first film’s events, but chances are you have seen the first one already – so it seems a bit pointless and redundant. However, once they return to the island things get a lot more fun.
Aside from Chester V and his team, the new characters in the film consist primarily of living good creatures. The studio was really clever in crafting these “foodimals,” and had a lot of fun in coming up with them. Berry the walking, talking strawberry is almost too cute for words. Honorable mentions go to the hippotatoes, tacodiles, bananostriches, watermelophants – and of course the cheesespiders (cheeseburgers with sesame seed eyes and 8 french fry legs). These creations are the best part of the film, and are a lot of fun to watch as they interact with Flint and his friends.
If you have seen the the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and loved it, chances are you are going to enjoy the sequel. Although it can’t quite capture the magic of the original, there is still plenty to enjoy back at Swallow Falls. It’s great to see almost all the characters we came to love in the first one return, and meet some new friends along the way.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a B-