‘Cloudy 2’ is cheesy food puns and little else
Published: Monday, October 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 7, 2013 23:10
You know what’s funny: over the top slapstick, subtle social commentary and hyperactive silliness. That’s what made “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” a successful and enjoyable feature. You know what’s not funny: food puns. And that’s basically all “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” has to offer.
Picking up right where the first film left off, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” reunites with inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) after shutting down his water to food converter which went out of control and covered the entire island they inhabit with food. Of course it isn’t really shut down, or else we wouldn’t have a movie. The cleanup process is taken over by Live Corp and it’s CEO/obvious Steve Jobs parody Chester V (Will Forte). After temporary relocation, Live Corp recruits Flint and company to return to their island now inhabited with living food and shutdown the machine (again) so the food doesn’t take over the world. The whole plot feels shoehorned and lacks the creativity of the original.
While the first half hour shows promise, with strong character humor and physical comedy, things take a turn for the annoying once they reach the island. There we are treated to a barrage of unfunny and witless wordplay centering on food; with a collection of “foodimals” including “shrimpanzees” and “peanut butter and jellyfish.” It does allow for some inventive visuals, but at the same time the level of effort feels equivalent to a low-budget syndicated cartoon. Simply taking two preexisting things and merging them together is no longer creative enough to justify building a premise around. Furthermore, the film shifts much of its humor away from the interactions between the high chemistry characters to the uninteresting setting.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” also carries the same structural flaws as the original, but are not as easily overshadowed here. The thematic arcs of friendship and loyalty are not only forced into the dialogue but so stale I doubt even children will get an emotional tug out of them. The villain is unnecessarily revealed in the first five minutes, rendering a few would-be plot twists moot, and only further showcasing how formulaic it is. Then there’s the bland and boring Anna Faris, unfortunately reprising her role as Sam Sparks, a character who should have much more emotional depth than Faris provides.
Although as far as children’s movies go, there’s not too much to complain about here. The sugar rush animation and stringent pace will keep kids entertained and they will certainly have more patience with the pun barrage than I did. Except Faris, it also benefits from a talented voice cast including James Caan, Andy Samberg and the never less than gut-wrenching Kristen Schaal. Terry Crews also deserves credit for transparently replacing Mr. T as Officer Earl Devereaux, a character who will remain funny no matter how bad the writing.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” boils down to another throwaway sequel to a film that never needed one. It’s about as nonchalant as they come. Kids will be entertained for 90 minutes, but afterward they, nor anyone else, will care enough to ever think about it again.