As a father of a young child, I know there are few things of greater comfort than when your kid likes movies that don’t suck.
Pixar is generally a good bet, but once you stray outside the Disney line, it can get dicey. So I cannot tell you how pleased I was when I found that “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” was both one of his favorites and not an eye-rotting plot disaster that would make even the sanest man run screaming into the streets upon its 335th viewing.
Sony had a bona fide winner and, unsurprisingly, they returned to that well to see if they could squeeze more money from that animated teat. Yes, they can. And thankfully, it’s a movie with lots of repeat viewing potential.
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” starts off with a recap of the first movie and then right where the original left off — the island of Swallow Falls is covered in leftover food created by the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (or FLDSMDFR).
Flint (voiced by Bill Hader) is making plans for the future with his girlfriend Sam Sparks (Anna Farris) and the rest of their crew when Flint’s childhood scientific hero Chester V shows up with Live Corp, ready to clean up the island and relocate all the people of Swallow Falls to sunny San Franjose.
Their new home seems ideal – Flint, along with his pet monkey/assistant Steve, goes to work for Live Corp, trying to become one of Chester V’s orange-vested assistants, Sam returns to her job as a meteorologist, and Brent (Andy Samberg) dresses as a chicken again — but everybody is eager to return home. This is why they all decide to come along with Flint when he’s sent on a mission to find the FLDSMDFR back on Swallow Falls, where it’s apparently making a new kind of trouble.
The plot is fine, but the real joy is in how the characters interact and in the inventive punniness of the writers, who have repopulated the island with some imaginative new creatures. Why would a shrimp cocktail evolve into a primate? No better reason than to use the name “shrimpanzee.” The same goes for the Tacodile Supreme and lots of other anthropomorphic meals.
(Not all the creatures are given names explicitly, which will make for a nice distraction once you’ve seen this a dozen times. I’ve already decided that the bison with ketchup on its head is called a buffaloaf.)
Will Forte, who voiced a few characters in the original, plays Chester V here and it’s not hard to guess early on that he’ll be the villain, even if he’s wrapped up in a lot of Steve Jobs accouterments.
Predictably, naive Flint buys into Chester’s selfish philosophies, turning his back on his friends and family while thinking he’s doing the right thing, which sets up the film’s main conflict.
Then it’s up to him and his friends to oppose Chester once Live Corp’s evil endgame is revealed.
The key here is tremendous voice talent, animators who capture the excellent visual style of the original and writing that is as inventive and demented as Flint Lockwood himself.
We will all be forced to suffer through the likes of “Rio” and “A Shark’s Tale” sometimes, but I’m happy to say that “Cloudy 2” was a pleasure to see once and probably won’t force me to mainline Thorazine when my son requests another screening day after day after day.
I give “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” four out of five brown crayons, wait…STEVE!
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” rated PG for mild rude humor.