When Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs hit screens in 2009, it proved to be an unexpected treat that arrived with little hoopla beyond sporting one of the weirdest (and wordiest) titles of all time. However, the movie proved to be a strangely subversive comedy gem that even managed to sneak Eraserhead references into a kiddie blockbuster. We can thank co-writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller for that given that they pulled the same trick on the underrated animated series Clone High and the unexpectedly awesome 21 Jump Street movie. Sadly, the duo didn’t return to the sequel beyond some screenplay tinkering. They’re off making the Lego movie instead, and they should be because they’ll make it great. So now, we have Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 arriving with expectations and without the key creative talent. Fortunately, it’s a wonderfully entertaining sequel that continues the franchise well. It’s more sweet and sincere than subversive and reverential, but when you’re talking about a CGI family comedy about giant sentient cheeseburgers, that’s not exactly a bad thing.
The roughest patch of the movie comes right off the bat. Unfortunately, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 does suffer from that unfortunate medical condition that plagues many Hollywood products: sequel-itis. The original film was never intended to set up a franchise, so there are some awkward patches early on as the filmmakers struggle to kick off a new story and reunite all of the characters the kiddies loved last time. Fortunately, that’s out of the way fast. Bill Hader’s manic inventor Flint is selected by his childhood hero/iconic food inventor Chester V (Will Forte doing an amusing Steve Jobs impression… only evil) to join his tech conglomerate LIVE Corp. Flint toils away fruitlessly in the big city hoping to become one of the team’s star inventors and then gets a chance to prove himself when his old invention starts running amuck in his hometown. The machine that once made food out of drops of water has started malfunctioning and turned the island into a land overrun by giant sentient food (cheeseburger spiders, crazy cucumbers, cutie pie strawberries, the whole nine yards). So Flint gathers up all of the popular characters from the last movie like gal pal reporter Sam (Anna Faris), her wacky accented cameraman Manny (Benjamin Bratt), dedicated local cop Earl (Terry Crews), weirdo Brent (Andy Samburg), and his daddy (James Caan) and together they head out to food island for more wacky adventures.
The good news is that said wacky adventures are still a lot of fun. There’s a worrying moment early on when Flint screams out “there’s a leak in my boat” and then an anthropomorphized leek starts screaming. Thankfully, the movie is not defined by bad puns, even if it’s not above them. Some of the pop culture references from the original remain like the general plot that’s ripped from The Lost World (both the original Arthur Conan Doyle novel and the Jurassic Park sequel) and the goofy Apple parody that is LIVE Corp. However, the new directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn lean more on eccentric character comedy and CGI adventure this time around and thankfully that approach works. The voice cast is ridiculously talented and even if it’s a stretch to cram all of the popular characters in here, every actor gets some big laughs (especially Forte who is hysterical as the villain). The character design still comes from the Lord/Miller/Clone High school, and it’s still wonderfully unique and cartoony. The living food monsters/buddies are all creatively designed and milked for all their comedy and cutesy potential. The action scenes are genuinely thrilling and take advantage of the 3D visuals. The emotional arc sparks tear trickles without feeling saccharine. And most importantly, it all wraps up quickly without ever feeling strained or boring. In short, it’s a blast of simple entertainment that will charm the pants off parents, children, and regressed children alike.
“Charming” is the word that best describes Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 and given the genre of CGI family comedy it slides into that word suits the film well. Would it have been better if Phil Lord and Chris Miller stuck around for the sequel to pack it full of their weirdo wit? Of course, but at the same time the original movie never cried out for a franchise and the sequel never could have been anything more than a charming follow up. Animation veterans Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn at least know their genre and medium well. They suck up all the possible entertainment value out of continuing the adventures of this likable gang of characters and food fantasy world, then roll the credits before outstaying their welcome. The film is no masterpiece, but it is a perfectly serviceable and goofy blast of family fun that will make the target audience giggle while scarfing down snacks. Really, what else could you possibly expect from a movie called Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2? Wanting more is just being greedy. This is as good as a movie with giant cheeseburger spiders can be and that ain’t bad.