Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for some rude humor
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast (voices): Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews, Kristen Schaal, Cody Cameron
Cameo (voice): Al Roker
Director: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Screenplay: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein, Erica Rivinoja
Review published September 30, 2013
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 starts off right where its predecessor left off, with Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader, The To Do List) and co. saving the day in stopping the world calamity he had inadvertently set in motion in converting water into food that grew bigger and more unwieldy as time went on. Soon after, Flint is recruited to bring his scientific services to the Apple-esque Live Corp, a tech company led by Flint's idol, Chester V (Forte, The Watch), claiming to use their inventiveness to do good works for all.
Through the course of his work, Flint soon makes the chilling realization that the Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator he thought he'd destroyed is actually still active, and worse, it is spewing out foods that are spliced with with the genetics of animals (dubbed 'foodimals'), forming their own instances of new (and dangerous) hybridized life on the human-evacuated island of Swallow Falls. In a race against time to make sure these beasts don't make their way off the island, Flint's going to need a little help from all of his friends to corral the chaos he is responsible for starting.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs had been one of the more pleasant surprises in the animated family genre in 2009, and though it hadn't quite been conceived of as a franchise, its popularity practically ensured we'd be revisiting Swallow Falls once again in due time. Unfortunately, despite bringing back most of the main vocal talent on board (though Mr. T's distinctive growl is sorely missed), lightning isn't able to strike twice, as the new creative minds, who replace the first film's effective team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, make the fatal mistake of so many other similar releases by thinking that, so long as the environs are as brightly colored as a Starburst commercial and the interactions among the characters rude and frenetic, that kids will be enrapt with whatever is on the screen enough to consider it a good time.
The down side is that, even if it pacifies the young tykes, this entry isn't nearly as witty as the previous one, and the underlying themes on consumerism that made the 2009 release so smart makes way for a tale that merely exists to churn out a menagerie of cutely grotesque hybrid characters with punny names like taco-diles, fla-mangoes, shrimp-anzees, etc. The quality of the animation is the only thing keeping this woeful sequel from sinking to the bottom of the animated movie abyss.
The way the film plays out feels more reminiscent of Jurassic Park, with its 'nature run amok on an island' plot, than it does the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which tied in its calamities with the weather patterns. Character growth is almost none, and the romance between Flint and Sam, so effective and endearing in the prior film, barely registers here, which is hard to understand, given that we're starting off this story literally the day when the first storyline ended. There's very little vested interest in the plot, with a 'twist' in the Chester V backstory that will likely not surprise anyone whose age has reached double digits. Even the mild parody on Steve Jobs and his Shangri-La-like Silicon Valley headquarters feels vastly underdeveloped to catch the interest of the adults.
There is a smattering of cute moments and butt/fart gags for the kiddies, but, for the most part, Cloudy 2 is an out-and-out bore for anyone who doesn't incessantly snicker at the dumbest of puns, and will likely be forgotten by most who see it within a week after viewing it. The first film had lots of smart fun with junk food; this one is just junk.
©2013 Vince Leo