Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn't taste quite as fresh as the original recipe but the film offers more than just re-heated leftovers.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 follows the continuing adventures of inventor Flint Lockwood (and friends) - after his first high profile creation, the FLDSMDFR (short for Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator), left his hometown of Swallow Falls covered in oversized pieces of food. In order to begin reclaiming the town from giant donuts, titular meatballs, and other sizable (but delicious) edibles, Flint (Bill Hader), along with friends Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), Brent McHale (Andy Samberg), Earl Devereaux (Terry Crews), Manny (Benjamin Bratt), Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), and his father, Tim Lockwood (James Caan), team-up to start the recovery effort - until genius scientist, and Flint's boyhood hero, Chester V arrives on the scene.
Chester V informs the citizens of the Swallow Falls that his company, Live Corp, will be handling clean up duties - offering to relocate the townspeople until their island is back to normal. However, Chester V neglects to tell Flint that the FLDSMDFR is still active - this time creating sentient (and dangerous) food/animal hybrids. Then, when an elite Live Corp team goes missing on the island, Chester V must break his silence and enlist Flint's assistance to journey back to Swallow Falls and shutdown the FLDSMDFR for good.
For Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, series writer/helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie) handed directorial duties over to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' head of story and story artist, Chris Pearn and Cody Cameron, respectively. Instead of a more traditional sequel route, rehashing the plot of the first film on a larger scale as the FLDSMDFR extends its reach from Swallow Falls to full-on world domination, Pearn and Cameron opted to take the narrative in a radically different (and significantly more creative) direction - a Jurassic Park-like adventure full of imaginative food creatures as well as, subsequently, plenty of tongue-in-cheek word play. As a result, while Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn't quite live up to the high bar set in the first installment (a film that offered plenty of humor and heart for adults as well as the juice box crowd), the sequel is a worthy follow-up, successfully iterating on the core formula while exploring a handful of fresh ideas.
As with most animated comedies, there are some pretty heavy-handed life lessons that are injected into the main storyline of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - which, in several cases, follow familiar tropes through to predictable conclusions. The original film was a bit more subtle with thematic subtext and while the sequel's penchant for hammering ruminations on friendship and self-interest, among other topics, won't affect the enjoyment of younger viewers, older moviegoers will, very likely, sense that Cloudy 2 is operating at a slightly lower "reading level." For that reason, some audience members that were impressed by the first movie's ability to effortlessly traverse age demographics, might be less enthusiastic about the amount of ambition and accessibility on display in Pearn and Cameron's sequel.
Still, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is far from a shameless and hollow cash grab - as the main storyline, especially the "foodimal" creations, provide plenty of guilty laughs while the juxtaposition between Flint Lockwood and Chester V offer worthwhile commentary on a culture of obsessive innovation and personal isolation. Additionally, the movie includes a number of subtle and some not-so-subtle nods to its genre inspirations - such as King Kong, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and, as mentioned, the Jurassic Park series - which add an extra layer of wit and homages for longtime film fans.
The majority of the primary cast return to voice their respective characters in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - with the exception of Terry Crews who replaces Mr. T as the voice of fan-favorite crime fighter Earl Devereaux. Newcomers Will Forte (who is getting an upgrade as Chester V after voicing Joe Towne in the first film) as well as Kristen Schaal (Chester V's orangutan companion) are solid additions to the cast and any viewers saddened by the absence of Bruce Campbell's Mayor Shelbourne can take comfort that Neil Patrick Harris is back delivering one-word dialogue as Steve the monkey.
Of course, the real stars of the Cloudy 2 are the previously mentioned "foodimals" which, in addition to countless others, include Barry the Strawberry (voiced by Cameron), cheespiders, shrimpanzees, watermelophants, tacodile supremes, hippotatomuses, bananostriches, as well as PB and jellyfish. Moviegoers who can overlook the obvious gimmick at play, will find the implementations of various food-animal hybrids to be engaging and well-realized - supplying many of the film's best laughs.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is showing in 2D and 3D theaters and, like most computer-animated films, whether or not the added cost is a worthy return on investment will be up to viewer preference. The movie takes the subtle but immersive approach to its 3D presentation - meaning there are not a lot of memorable in-your-face 3D sequences. However, the lush CG island environment, exaggerated design of human characters, and creative portrayal of foodimal hybrids all benefit from added depth of field in a premium presentation - resulting in a rich visual experience for moviegoers who do not require major pop-out moments to justify a 3D upcharge.
While Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 might not deliver the same cross-generational appeal as the first film, it's a worthy sequel that smartly iterates on the core storyline with a new and entertaining direction. The foodimals will keep members of the film's kid-friendly demographic entertained and tongue-in-cheek social satire provide some decent chuckles for parents (as well as older fans of the prior installment). In general, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn't taste quite as fresh as the original recipebut the film offers more than just re-heated leftovers - with another funny and entertaining adventure that justifies a second helping of Flint Lockwood and friends.
If you’re still on the fence about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, check out the trailer below:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 runs 95 minutes and is Rated PG for mild rude humor. Now playing in 2D and 3D theaters.
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