Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
Directed by: Cody Pearn, Kris Cameron Cast: (Voices of) Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Terry Crews, Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, Neil Patrick Harris Running Time: 1 hr 36 mins Rating: PG Release Date: September 27, 2013
PLOT: Scientist/food god Flint Lockwood (Hader) is enlisted by his inventor hero Chester V. (Forte) to stop his FLDSMFDR food-making machine after it has turned homeland island Swallow Valley into a dystopia of food animals ("foodimals").
WHO'S IT FOR? More than the original, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 feels directed towards younger audiences. Still, adults who enjoy some good puns will certainly not be entirely disappointed.
2009's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is something to behold, even four years and numerous animated films later. Standing out still as one of the best, it's an organic animated feature that eschewed Pixar competitiveness while also focusing on subtle adult-aimed gags all with cartoonish zippiness. On top of that, it doesn't stink of animator self-hatred, as its proudly dorky self-amusement is evident within numerous subtle jokes. There is indeed a certain effect with a film when it is clear that its hundreds of creators particularly enjoyed putting it together (the opening credit even boasts the rare declaration of teamwork, "A film made by a lot of people.")
So while its comparatively processed sequel may be funny in parts (especially when referring to yuks from the original), Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn't inspire nearly the same amount of awe, but it still offers some creativity in the midst of previous soulless productions from Sony Pictures Animation (which includes two Smurfs movies and the Adam Sandler nightmare Hotel Transylvania). With the plot taking scientist messiah Flint and friends back to a food utopia turned into a Jurassic Park-like dystopia, the highest priority for this adventure involves the creation of all things cute, whether it is in the living puns like "shrimpanzee" or "tacodile" called "foodimals" engineered by Flint's rogue machine, or that these living dishes are essentially baby animals. Even more so than Chester V., yet another individual who takes advantage of gullible Flint, the villains of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 are actually the Minions from Despicable Me 2, who have not only taken over the full attention of their franchise, but are beginning to spread their baby-talk vernacular to other animated films. If these "foodimals" are any indication, by Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 4 all characters will be speaking in high pitched baby gibberish, exhibiting frantic sugar-high slapstick. One character here in particular, a strawberry, has big eyes, a little mouth, and has but the effect of a widdle toddler who sounds like the singer of Deerhoof (or more immediately, BMO from "Adventure Time.") Needless to say, the strawberry gets a lot of screen-time.
For those who admired the sophisticated silliness of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, this sequel's often amusing food puns are the closest one can get to such a similar, arguably more absurdist adult flavor (though a random Tom Waits suggestion in round two is a nice partner to a similarly bizarre Public Enemy joke in one). Discovery of the food island concoctions often makes for amusing humor, especially when putting characters through cartoonish craziness that unveils yet another grocery item come to life. But such only leads all to an admittedly disappointing finale, comparatively less inspired than anything else in the script, or even that which Flint's FLDSMDFR machine has imagined.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10