In 2009, the first “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” was unleashed. It was by no means a bad animated film. It was beautifully animated and had some great voice-acting from the entire cast, but what really held it back was the feeling of the plot being stretched out past its breaking point. Because of that, its 80-minute runtime felt much longer as the filmmakers struggled to take a simple story and turn it into a feature-length film. Regardless of this, the film was rather successful, so it’s no surprise that we’re faced with the inevitable sequel just a few years later.
Picking up right where the first film left off, we find Flint Lockwood (Voice of Bill Hader) making plans with Sam (Voice of Anna Faris) to build a new laboratory where they would work together. Of course, their other friends want to get in on it too, but before they can get started, a childhood hero of Flint’s, Chester V. (Voice of Will Forte), pays him a visit (in hologram form). Chester offers him a job at his laboratory, which he at first turns down, but after some encouragement from his friends, he takes the job.
In the meantime, the residents of the island have to relocate to the mainland so that Chester’s crew can clean up the mess remaining from the recent disaster. They agree to go, but not without much hesitation. Meanwhile, Flint is incredibly excited about his new job and looks forward to the chance to win a spot among Chester’s elite group of scientists. Despite not being chosen for the position, he does get chosen by Chester to go on a dangerous mission back to the island in order to shut down his invention that created all the trouble in the first place. The problem is, the island has become overrun with living food, so despite being told to go alone, Flint’s friends come along to help him out. However, as we soon find out, Chester hasn’t been entirely honest about his intentions.
If you were hoping for anything new from this installment, unfortunately you’re not going to find it as my description of the previous film once again applies directly to its sequel. Like its predecessor, it’s not a bad film by any means, but you can feel how hard the filmmakers are trying as they attempt to stretch out a simple story into a feature. As the film plays on, scenes pop up on the screen that have you questioning why they’re there in the first place, such as Flint’s dad fishing with pickle creatures or Flint’s quest to become “vested” (which holds the film up from getting to the main plot).
This is a film for kids, so you shouldn’t be surprised when they throw in a life-lesson. I just wish they had done it in a better way. About midway through the film, Chester somehow convinces Flint that a former bully of his can’t be trusted and that his friends are just holding him back. If he had stopped and thought about it for two seconds, he would have realized that Chester was only spouting nonsense given that his friends risked their lives to join him on his dangerous mission. However, suspicion takes hold of him, leading to the audience having to wait until he figures out that Chester was merely trying to turn him against them.
On the up side, you do get the same level of amazing animation that we saw in the first film. This project really allowed the animators’ imaginations to go wild what with all the food creatures they had to come up with in the process. To name just a few examples, the film features a “tacodile,” cheeseburger-spiders, giant sentient strawberries, and many, many more. It’s a bright and colorful film, so once more, if you’re going to seek it out anyway, I must advise you to avoid the 3D to be able to enjoy the full effect of the picture.
You also get most of the same top-notch vocal talent that we had in the first film. Bill Hader and Will Forte give particularly lively performances, while the supporting cast of Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, James Caan, Neil Patrick Harris, and Terry Crews gives delightfully-eccentric turns as well. At least on these two levels, the film manages to keep its audience entertained.
I wish the same could be said of the narrative, but until they actually brainstorm enough ideas to fill an entire film, they’ll always have the feeling of being stretched too thin. If there is to be a third film in the “Cloudy” series, my only hope is that they’ll take some time to put a little more thought into it so that the story can be on the same level as the animation and vocal performances. These films have some amusing ideas in them. They just need to be fully-realized in order to tap into their true potential. 2.5/4 stars.
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