by Tony Dayoub
Be assured, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is definitely better than the first. That being said, this is not a major accomplishment since the first movie was a major slog to get through. With a color palette that ranged from day-glo to rainbow-tastic and rubber-band-shaped characters with malleable, indistinct personalities to match, it was a forgettable movie where scientist Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) was forced to sabotage his own invention-gone-wild after it starts creating gigantic food-based weather issues for his island town, Swallow Falls. Overlong and predictable, it was a dull affair even for pint-sized animated film fans. In this respect, Cloudy 2 is a success; the kids at the screening I attended (including my own) were engaged throughout, as were a good number of the adults.
Some time after the events in the first Cloudy, Lockwood and his friends must return to clean up the mess in Swallow Falls under the "benevolent" guidance of the vaguely sinister scientific guru, Chester V (Will Forte). Lockwood's device, the FLDSMDFR, has begun creating living "foodimals." These clever amalgams are the source of the movie's most amusing elements—hippotatomuses, shrimpanzees, peanut butter and jellyfishes, flamangos, cantelopes, the terrifying tacodile supreme, and more—all serving as nicely textured background for what is again a fairly typical tale of the once lonely Lockwood learning to trust his new friends.
As imaginative as the flora and fauna appear to be, the rest of the movie's pedestrian aesthetic adds to a general sense of uninspired familiarity. A scene in which the group must contend with a stampeding flock of bananostriches is an obvious homage to Jurassic Park, an innocuous tribute that nonetheless contributes to the feeling that there's nothing new here. Still, Cloudy with a Chance at Meatballs 2 is aimed at younger moviegoers, and the film shall feel new to them. As for any of you parents accompanying them, make sure to drink plenty of coffee before the show.