Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

The gang’s all back for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, which finds Bill Hader‘s Flint Lockwood returning to the town he overran with food. As a second venture, this isn’t on the level of Toy Story 2, which is the gold standard for kids film sequels (and sequels in general). That noted, it’s nowhere near as insufferable as a Shrek sequel, and it never feels like a cheap cash-in, even if it never achieves the greatness of the first movie.

The Players

The Plot:

Flint Lockwood (Hader) invented a machine that created food out of weather, but as it’s been left alone on Swallow Falls, where it now has created sentient food, called foodimals, that have names like Tacodiles and Shrimpanzees. He’s hired by Chester V (Forte), a Steve Jobs-type figure to invent for him, even though he said he’d start a company with his friends (though they understand why he’d go). But though Chester said he’d clean up the island, he first needs Flint’s help to find the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator,’ aka the FLDSMDFR, so that means Sam Sparks (Faris), Brent (Samberg), Earl Devereaux (Crews) Manny (Bratt) and Steve (Harris) all come with him, and so does Flint’s father (Caan), even though Flint wants his father to stay home. But once they’re on the island, not all is what it seems.

The Good:

  • Punny Fun: If you can’t stand puns, this movie might drive you insane, but if you find it funny that someone says “there’s a leak in the boat!” and it turns out that there’s a leek? Have we got a movie for you. There’s lots of clever twists on existing food/animals, and the writing is filled with some good set ups and pay offs in terms of the fun of this twist on the first film.
  • The Look: With a great color palette, this movie shows how far CG animation has gone, as this was done quickly (the original came out in 2009) for animation, yet everything is beautifully rendered, and the 3D is solid here, as it often is in animated movies, though it isn’t as revelatory as the first film.

The Eh:

  • The Plot: Where the first film was filled with wonder, this movie has an antagonist that’s evident early on, and one who forces Flint to make decisions between his career and his friends. If this wasn’t a tried and true narrative device, it might be more fun, but any parent who watches this film will know exactly where this is going from the first ten minutes. This automatically puts it in the lesser category of animated films that don’t delight so much as go through the motions to get to the end. As such there’s fun along the way, but it’s unfortunate they couldn’t crack the story as well as the first film, which did an amazing job turning a silly idea into a hilarious and poignant feature length film. This isn’t so much bad as a little too by the numbers.

Overall:

The film is funny and light and pleasant enough as a film to show kids, but the first film had a certain magic that made it one of the best 3D movie experiences, and just an all around entertaining film. The follow up benefits from some goodwill, and there’s a lot of charming parts to it, but it never transcends.

Rating: 7.5/10

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 opens everywhere September 27.

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Trailer: