Cloudy Expectations – I know, I couldn’t help it, but the reality is I think a lot of people don’t know what to expect with this ‘now’ series. Hard to fathom a concept like this has moved to a sequel, but that’s Hollywood these days. And considering the praise “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” received, it was almost a given this one would get a lot of the same. But, #2 really hasn’t yet and I think that’s maybe because it wasn’t as original or cool this second go-around.
What’s it about? For those that didn’t see the first, don’t worry, you are not missing anything other than maybe a better movie. But, the story, which is said to be loosely based on Judi and Ron Barrett’s book of the same name, follows the fallout after Flint Lockwood’s food making machine went haywire. After saving the world, there was still quite the mess to clean up in Swallow Falls, which is where Chester V came in. CEO of Live Corp., Chester arrives on the scene to not only relocate residents, but eventually task Flint into finding his food making machine dubbed the FLDSMDFR. When they do, Flint naturally brings his own team, consisting of local meteorologist Sam Sparks, her cameraman Manny, officer Devereaux, Brent and his Dad Tim, to help. And as it turns out, Flint would need all the help he could get to find his machine on an island that was overgrown with food animals from the sky, animals that after further observation were not as bad as advertised the longer they ventured into the jungle of food.
Whose voice is that? For animated films, there is really no cast that work together or have to feed off each other. Sure, you probably want the right combination of voices and inflection, but in the end, it all can be edited in a way that suits the film. That’s all that really matters and what goes on when these films are created, but people rarely think about. All they know is what’s in front them, which is a funny or unique character with a voice that is familiar. However, here, you might get through the entire film before realizing who is behind that said voice. Because this cast for all intent purposes is unknown with the biggest name possibly being James Caan, who voiced Lockwood’s father Tim. Caan, who a lot of you reading this probably could not put a face to, is a great actor and one that has been fairly active his entire career on TV and the big screen. Making a name for himself early in in “The Godfather,” Caan has always had the look of a star and is one of those actors that makes everyone else around him better. Unfortunately in this format, that can’t really happen, so a guy like Caan is in many ways a miscast from where I sit. Sure, he didn’t ruin anything, but he didn’t really add to it either making the case that anyone could have voiced Lockwood’s father. Everyone else filled in where needed without too much issue, including Bill Hader who reprised his role as Flint Lockwood. Hader, who is known primarily for his SNL skits, actually has done quite a bit of this type of work, having voiced nearly a dozen character’s since 2006. I think that’s important to note, as it’s his character that you wound up latching onto for this usual ride.
Unanswered questions – I realize “Clouds with a Chance of Meatballs 2” is not meant to be some epic picture, but after watching it, I really don’t understand why they made another one. Sure, this same argument can be applied to a lot of sequels, but for a story like the one in both of these films, I just don’t get it. Yeah, kids will mostly like it because of the simple fact there is a giant hamburger and taco walking around, but eventually they will grow tired of it thanks to the lackluster story. And that’s my major issue with it, because as a writer and critic, I want a story that keeps you involved and entertained. Whether that’s a drama, action or comedy, that’s what I feel should happen given how much money we all spend to take our kids to see these films. So, while I might have enjoyed the visuals and layered in humor with the ‘foodimals’ (aka food animals), it wasn’t as inventive or sustainable as the original by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were obviously not back for the sequel.
Bottom Line – While no film is meant to be perfect, I do expect a certain quality with films like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.” That may seem crazy to some, but for the craft I enjoy writing about, I want to be entertained to the fullest extent. And in the case of this sequel, I wasn’t leaving me with little hope that this will be the final one in this series that should have never gone past one.
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