It’s something that I desperately wanted to love–if only because I had such fond memories of taking my then 4-year-old to his first 3D movie, upon the release of the original in 2009. Can’t say that “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” is worth it though, with its over-reliance on being big, bIG, BIG, whereas the original incarnation was smart enough to occasionally stay small. The movie has its moments(and, truth be told, both my now 9-year-old, AND his 6-year-old brother, thought it was AWESOME), but I detected almost immediately that this sequel would quickly run out of steam. Plus, all the best bits are in the trailer! And no returning voice work from Mr. T(although, Terry Crews manages a more-than-passable imitation).
But just about all of the original voices DO return, with Bill Hader as inventor Flint Lockwood, James Caan as Tim Lockwood…Flint’s widowed Dad, Anna Faris as Sam Sparks…Flint’s girlfriend, and Andy Samberg as man/child mascot Brent McHale. Plus, Will Forte rejoins the mix as inventor Chester V(he voiced Joe Towne in the original). Neil Patrick Harris is again Steve the Monkey, and Kristen Schaal debuts as Barb the orangutan. There’s a distinct “Jurassic Park” vibe going on with this sequel, as Flint & company head back to their island home, that was abandoned after Lockwood’s atmosphere-activated food-making machine(dubbed the “FLDSMDFR”)caused a destructive “edible” storm. Upon landing they discover that the island has become a wildly overgrown jungle…containing an array of food/animal hybrids! “Shrimpanzees”! “Watermelophants”! A “HipPOTATOmus”! The screenplay has a BLAST with those creations, and they’re great visuals too. Underlying it all is some nonsense about an evil corporation trying to capture and use the “food animals” for capitalistic gains.
It’s all kind of convoluted and unnecessary, with the names of the hybrid food/animals supplying the chief source of fun. There’s the periodic “only-adults-get-it” puns too, but the heart is missing in this retread. The relationships in the original animated adventure were a primary focus, but now they just attempt to re-harness the feelings from the first one without coming up with anything fresh. It’s a lazy and confused script, and it’s manically directed(by Cody Cameron)and filmed. Barely ever slowing down, it’s easy to realize why the under-10 set made it a hit. It goes down easy…but so does a puff of air. There are some charms here, but it’s instantly forgettable. I hope there’s no “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3”, because the well has already run dry. Or, as this script would have it, “there’s a leek in the boat!”. Like I said, SOME charms. Alas, not enough.