CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2
***1/2 (out of 5)
September 27, 2013
Bill Hader as FLINT LOCKWOOD
Anna Faris as SAM SPARKS
James Caan as TIM LOCKWOOD
Will Forte as CHESTER V
Andy Samberg as BRENT MCHALE
Benjamin Bratt as MANNY
Neil Patrick Harris as STEVE
Terry Crews as EARL DEVEREAUX
Kristen Schaal as BARB
Studio: Sony Pictures
Directed by: Cody Cameron & Kris Pearn
BY KEVIN CARR
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When I was in grade school, one of my favorite books was “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” Like most high-concept picture books, it really didn’t have much of a story to it. Instead, it was an exercise in absurdity about a town where food fell from the sky as weather. There really was no character-driven plot, but doggoned it if it wasn’t a hoot to read.
When I first heard Sony was developing a film version of this beloved classic, I was very skeptical. Generally, when Hollywood adapts a charming picture book into a feature-length movie, a lot of unnecessary plot and characters are thrown in. Examples of this include the needlessly convoluted “The Polar Express” and more recently Universal’s “The Lorax.”
However, when “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” came out, it was great. I loved the story they put in because it took the time to be an actual story rather than an excuse to get a popular picture book made into a movie. Sure, it was different, but I was okay with the changes.
When the sequel was announced, I was similarly skeptical. It’s not uncommon for brilliant first films to spawn wretched (or at the very least, disappointing) sequels. Recent examples of this include “Despicable Me 2,” “Ice Age” and about half of the “Shrek” movies.
However, once again, I was pleasantly surprised. Where I expected a dullard of a sequel, “Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs 2” is a charming and fun film that kids can enjoy and adults will still chuckle about.
The story brings the gang back together as they abandon Swallow Falls in the wake of a clean-up effort. However, after months of waiting, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his buddies are asked to return to disable his water-into-food weather machine because it has started creating monstrous food creatures that could overrun the planet. Flint and the gang go back to Swallow Falls to brave the elements and the buffet, and they soon learn there’s more to this mystery than they were told.
If you take the trailers at face value, you’ll likely be bracing for a string of bad food/animal puns like “shrimpanzee,” “mosquitoast” and “tacodile.” And yes, these are all in there. But they aren’t forced into the script the way every ant/man pun was crammed into “Antz” fifteen years ago. They work in the context of the film.
Like the first movie, this film is replete with silliness, but with enough of an irreverent delivery that it remains funny and doesn’t delve into stupid. Also like the first film (and any cartoon worth its salt), there’s jokes that will sail over the kids’ heads and smack the parents in the face.
While I’m not a big “Saturday Night Live” fan any more, I have to believe the energy brought by the SNL alums in this film (including Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and Will Forte), along with other punchy comedic actors (like Anna Faris and Kristen Schaal) helped give “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” a distinct flavor that made me happy I went back for seconds.