Friday, October 18, 2013

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 Movie Review

So, I just finished watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) with some friends. I've still got food puns on the brain and I'm afraid a few might slip into my review. I was really looking forward to Cloudy 2 since I loved its predecessor so much. As is the case with most sequels, this one wasn't as good as the first one, but there were so many witty jokes that I still enjoyed it for the most part. Now, lettuce get on with the summary.
Picking up moments after the first movie left off, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his friends have just saved the world from the food storm. Super-inventor Chester V (Will Forte), the CEO of Live Corp, is tasked to clean the island. The residents of Chewandswallow are relocated to the mainland and Chester offers Flint a job at Live Corp where the best inventors in the world create technologies for the betterment of mankind. Returning to Chewandswallow keeps getting pushed back, until one day Chester shows Flint a video shot on the island. Flint's food making machine is still operating and is creating mutant food beasts like hungry tacodiles and shrimpanzees. Flint gathers his friends Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), "Chicken" Brent (Andy Samberg), Officer Earl Devereaux (Terry Crews), Flint's dad (James Caan), and pet monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) and return to the island of Chewandswallow to deactivate the food making machine before the foodimals learn to swim and terrorize the mainland.
With one exception, all of the original cast returns to reprise their roles. Mr. T, who played Officer Deveraux in the first film, declined the offer to return for the sequel. Terry Crews stepped in and did a fantastic job; I wouldn't have realized the actor was changed had I not checked the cast listing. I pity the fool who tries replace Mr. T, but Crews did a respectable job.
So, Cloudy 2 wasn't as good as the first movie. The change in directors from the first to second movie is evident; it seems that this one wasn't given as much care and intelligent skill that the first film had. Part of what made the first movie so good was the even pacing, the well developed characters, hysterical and witty jokes, and fantastic animation. The main problem with Cloudy 2 was that it was very rushed. There was very little down time between action scenes, and it left almost no time to develop the characters. It results in a standardized half-baked recipe for kids movies; loud, weird, chaotic, with an occasional poop joke thrown in.
Having said that, the movie is still conceptually creative. It reminds me of a foodie-version of The Lost World: Jurassic Park as if conjured up by Hollywood's Golden Age animator Tex Avery. Cloudy 2 is chock full of really witty jokes and puns. Our heroes come across food animals and start giving them names like peanut butter and jellyfish, flamangos, mosquitoast, and watermelephants. A lot of foodimals were not actually named, but I feel like there were puns behind them, such as a buffaloaf, hippotato, and apple piethons. Everyone panics when there's a leek in the boat. Anyone who can make this many running gags about leeks deserves props in my opinion. The jokes are numerous and pretty good, even if the rest of the script is relatively lackluster
The animation is great. The characters are as spastic and expressive as they were in the first movie, and it still has that Saturday morning cartoon vibe. It's brilliantly colorful and gorgeous to look at. Chester is particularly entertaining to watch. I feel like he was a play on Steve Jobs; he had this weird zen-like fluidity with expressions and gestures that defy a bone structure. He maintains balance and usually finishes his rubbery movements in a position of symmetry. The foodimals are highly creative, and have some pretty realistic animal-like movements. It's just delightful to watch.
This second helping of Meatballs seems to confuse bigger for better. It has lots of action but lacks the character development and story quality of the first course, making a hash of things. The manic pace and its unwillingness to settle on a single theme makes it feel like a quick-hit sugar high. Cloudy 2 isn't as good as the first movie, but still, it's kind of fun. The jokes and puns will please most everyone, and the animation will dazzle viewers. Kids will likely get a bigger kick out of this one than the adults will. It's worth seeing if you enjoy wacky movies like this, but unless you have kids who will want to see it again and again, it's a renter.

Okay, just because I loved the foodimals so much I'll ask you to come up with one of your own. Mine would be a guaca-mole. Hah! Comment below and tell me one of your own!

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