2009′s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was an original and very humorous story about an inventor’s machine that goes haywire. The sequel, with its new directors, committee-written script and forumulaic plot, feels like it’s been produced by an equally haywire machine. Luckily, it does throw a lot of funny material at the wall, and more often than not it sticks, so at least the kids should enjoy it.
Picking up minutes after the previous film left off, we find Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his friends deciding how to deal with the mess that Flint’s miraculous water-into-food machine has made of their home island. Enter Chester V (Will Forte), the globally-famous inventor who has been Flint’s idol since he was a boy. Impressed by Flint’s invention, Chester offers to relocate everyone while he conducts cleanup operations. He also offers Flint a job at his company, Live Corp, where Flint might just get to become one of Chester’s famous “thinkquanauts”, adventurous inventors who travel the world.
All is not what it seems, however. Secretly, Chester is just out to get his hands on the machine for nefarious purposes, but when he discovers it’s still working, and now generating dangerous food-animal hybrids, he tricks the naive Flint into retrieving it. Flint’s friends tag along, but Chester intervenes to drive a wedge between them, making the quest even more difficult and dangerous.
Much like the original, Cloudy 2 is relentlessly silly, from its goofy inventions and their unpronounceable acronyms to a flurry of food-related puns. Quite often, directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn fill the background of their frames with something amusing, usually involving Flint’s monkey pal Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), Chester’s uber-flexible limbs, or a super-cute mutant strawberry named, well, Barry. Kids love this sort of thing, and there’s so much of it that the onslaught occasionally overwhelms the adult funny bone, too.
This is a good thing, because the formulaic screenplay is typical of a quickie sequel: a lot of sound and fury surrounding a Jurassic Park retread that doesn’t know what to do with all its characters. Chester is a satirical and sinister take on the late Steve Jobs, but his constant presence unbalances the movie, shunting everyone else aside.
The voice talent play things surprisingly safe as well, given the zaniness of the animation. Hader is endearing as straight-man Flint, but it would be nice to hear him stretch his considerable vocal range. Most of the actors from the original return – including Harris, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, and Benjamin Bratt – and none of them gets much of a chance to shine either.
Bottom line, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has a predictable and rather boring story, but luckily the journey is more fun than the destination, which puts it slightly above average.
Tags: movie review