For those of you living under the “I’m an adult; therefore, I don’t watch animated films” rock, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a 2009 film based on the children’s book of the same title. When I heard they were making the book into a movie, I actually squealed (because I’m mentally five years old). And it was great! The graphic design was brilliant, the characters were charming and sympathetic, and the story was imaginative and funny. So, basically, it was what an animated film should be.
Then, they announced they were making a sequel. If you’re a regular reader of my reviews, you know the word “sequel” makes me want to punch a small child. Why did Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs need a sequel? It didn’t. The first story ended with dorky inventor Flint Lockwood saving the day from the impending food storm and falling in love with spunky weathergirl Sam Sparks. Sounds like the end of the road to me.
But there’s no such thing as “end of the road” in a business where there aren’t original ideas anymore because everything is about what makes the most money without actual effort (Hint: sequels). But then I saw the trailer for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and I found myself backtracking on the hatred of the sequel idea. Mainly, it was because there were just so many food puns that I found funny (because I’m mentally five years old). So what did I think? Let’s talk plot first…
Here’s how Sony describes the plot: “Inventor Flint Lockwood’s genius is finally being recognized as he’s invited by his idol Chester V to join The Live Corp Company, where the best and brightest inventors in the world create technologies for the betterment of mankind…It’s always been Flint’s dream to be recognized as a great inventor, but everything changes when he discovers that his most infamous machine (which turns water into food) is still operating and is now creating food-animal hybrids—foodimals!”
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 dives right into the story (as it should since it’s only 95 minutes long). It gives us a quick recap of what happened in the first film and then immediately picks up after those events.
Now that the island of Swallow Falls is covered in food, the town can’t continue with their daily lives until everything is cleaned up. Enter Chester V (Will Forte) of The Live Corp Company, one of Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader)’s science idols. Chester offers to clean up the island and temporarily relocates the residents to San Franjose. Meanwhile, Flint goes to work for The Live Corp Company, hoping to one day join Chester’s vest-wearing “Thoughtsters” (I believe that’s what they’re called), a team of scientific geniuses who help Chester invent cool technology. But he’s kind of the odd man out at the company. Realizing he can use Flint for his own evil motives, Chester sends Flint on a mission to retrieve the machine he created in the first film—the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator, called FLDSMDFR for short, which turns water into food. But when Flint and his friends show up on Swallow Falls, they realize the machine has been creating foodimals. And DUN DUN DUN, Chester wants to use those living foodimals to create his next nutritional snack.
The two main morals of the story are protecting living things and sticking by your friends, so Cloudy 2 is clearly targeted at young minds. But there are also several adult references. For example, Chester V is a parody of Steve Jobs and Apple. The Live Corp Company is a hip technology company that creates things “for the betterment of mankind.” And I mean, the Thoughtsters team is obviously a poke at Apple’s Geniuses. Did I mention Chester always says “Namaste” whenever he appears? Oh, yeah. That happens. And let’s not forget the many Jurassic Park references as Flint and his friends explore the island. The most recognizable one of those is when Flint’s chubby friend Brent (Andy Samberg) feels his belly jiggling right before the Tacodile appears.
The food puns, while cheesy, are pretty good. It helps, too, that they’re delivered quickly in the movie so you don’t have time to reflect on them and realize how lame they would be if you said them in real life. I don’t know if it’s because I saw this movie at midnight or because I have a dorky sense of humor, but the “There’s a leek in the boat!” line continues to crack me up even now. On top of all of the hilarious “It’s a piece of cake” and “We’re toast” puns, there’s also the creative names for the food-animal hybrids. Shrimpanzees, watermelephants, flamangoes, bananostriches, cheespiders, tacodile—I think the writers were smoking pot when they wrote this script.
Now, the best thing in this movie BY FAR is the strawberry, who Sam Sparks (Anna Farris) names “Barry.” He has giant eyes, makes cute sounds when he smiles, and he tries to hug Flint when they first meet. So, yeah, food has never been more adorable. Barry steals every scene in this movie. It’s one of those things where you’re watching him even when he’s just in the background because he’s so entertaining. My favorite Barry scene, you ask? The one where Flint delivers a speech to all of the foodimals while Barry translates it into the foodimals’ gibberish. No joke, if you were on the fence about this movie, see it just for the strawberry.
Like its predecessor, Cloudy 2 looks great (See it in 3D, if you can!), keeps us moving, and makes us laugh while touching our hearts. I really only have two complaints. For one, I think the story could’ve been tidied up by removing the scenes that were only included for comic relief—like Flint’s dad, Tim (James Caan), teaching the sardine-loving pickles how to fish. And lastly, I hate that it’s called Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. That title only applied to the first movie’s plot. Perhaps it should’ve been called something like Island of the Foodimals or Attack of the Foodimals to be more representative of the plot. I don’t know. What do you think?
Overall, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Jeez, that’s a long title) is sweet and entertaining. It’s not nearly as original as its predecessor, but it’s imaginative nonetheless. The food puns, the adult pop culture references, the adorable strawberry (who I could seriously watch in a solo movie)—all of these make Cloudy 2 a fun ride for both kids and adults. And yeah, you’re going to be hungry after watching this. Who wants to get some tacos with me?