Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
What It Is
Once a goofy inventor, always a goofy inventor. Back in 2009, the lab-coated, big-glasses-wearing Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) came up with the brilliant idea of a machine that made food out of weather, called the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator” (FLDSMDFR). No surprise, this produced all manner of chaos in and around his home, on the island of Swallow Falls, from tomato tornadoes to a foodalanche.
Now, in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Flint and his crew face another too-much-food-related problem, namely, that the previous machine has morphed into one that makes food into animals. In a word, foodimals. It takes a minute for the movie to get Flint and his friends — including meteorologist Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), their erstwhile foil Brent (Andy Samberg), Steve the Monkey (Neil Patrick Harris), excessively manly former police officer Earl Devereaux (Terry Crews, who replaces Mr. T), and Flint’s father Tim (James Caan) — to the island where they pursue the FLDSMDFR in hopes of getting it to stop producing baby foodimals.
They have these hopes because they’ve been advised by one Chester V (Will Forte) that these creatures are dangerous. A very rich, self-absorbed, self-described genius sort of fellow (think: Steve Jobs), Chester V invites Flint to audition to become a thinkonaut at his campus full of inventors, also the headquarters for his corporate empire, Live Corp, which rolls out new iterations of his signature food bar every few months. Like iPhones, these new versions of the same thing make consumers salivate and earn Chester lots of money. The threat to his business posed by the foodimals seems a function of his control-freakish nature. Chester doesn’t want food being made beyond the walls of his vaunted campus.
Swallow Falls looks awfully “beyond” when Flint and company arrive, populated as it is by Tacodiles, Watermelophants, Cheespiders, and Sasquashes. But as alarming as these creatures might look at first, with big fangs and cheesy goo breath, Sam notices almost immediately that, as unnatural as they may seem, the foodimals are following natural instincts, with offspring they want to protect and understandable fears of human predators. As Sam articulates the movie’s vaguely progressive environmental politics — noting the dangers of climate change and the efforts that must be made to protect cute little foodimals like the cooing, big-eyed berry named Berry.
Sam’s growing concerns about the bigger picture — beyond Chester’s demands — lead her into a rather direct conflict with Flint, who wants so badly to earn Chester V’s approval that he loses sight of what’s most important, namely, his friendships and his family (that would be Tim, as there’s no Mrs. Lockwood in sight). It’s a decent lesson to learn amid all the cheese and sugar and frogs made of butter.
Why It’s Fun
The foodimals are cleverly conceived, from the friendly pickle gang and shrimpanzees to the watermelophants, flamangoes, and mosquitoasts, who hover over lily-pad pancakes atop a syrupy bog. When Flint and Sam take a moment to argue here, and she stomps away in anger, the effect is quite funny, as the camera pulls out to a long shot to show her furious steps slowed by the sticky, thigh-high syrup.
Sam is a great character, bright and self-confident and charismatic, even if she is saddled with the preachiest dialogue.
Who’s Going To Love It
Fans of the first film may want to see Flint and Sam again, and Brent’s role here as a friend rather than a cruel bully makes the case that just about anyone might be rehabilitated — except Chester V! This case is made as well by Chester V’s assistant, a talking orangutan with a human brain named Barb (Kristen Schaal), whose loyalty to her mentor/boss is tested.
What To Be Aware Of
Early in the film, when Flint visits Chester’s Live Corp campus and wants more than anything to come up with an invention to impress his new boss, he sees that all the most energetic inventors are hyper-caffeinated, gulping can after can of Live Corp product.
Earl makes a joke about “cutting the cheese,” after which some literal cheese is cut and yes, Earl farts.
Flint and his friends are chased by some scary looking foodimals, tacos with gnashing teeth and gooey spew.
Earl is one-dimensionally stereotypical, whether you read him as the Macho Guy or the Black Guy.
A villain dies, a little horribly if you think about it, but the cartoonish violence is so goofy that no one will worry for him.
7 out of 10
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Directors: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Cast: Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Kristen Schaal, James Caan, Neil Patrick Harris, Benjamin Bratt
Studio: Sony Pictures
US General Release: September 27, 2013
UK General Release: October 25, 2013