Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
Directed by Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn. Voices by Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews. (2013, PG, 95 min.)
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Sept. 27, 2013
Don’t go see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 on an empty stomach – the smorgasbord of animated food is bound to make you hungry. This lazy, 3-D sequel to the 2009 feature about freakish meteorological events merely reboots the premise of comestibles gone wild with little attention paid to a coherent storyline. (That is, assuming a storyline involving a spidery cheeseburger scrambling around on eight french-fry legs is capable of something close to coherency.) Once again, zealous inventor Flint Lockwood’s supermutation machine that can transform water into full-course meals is the culprit of the ensuing chaos, this time turning his hometown of Swallow Falls into a lost world overrun by tacodile supremes, watermelophants, flamangos, and shrimpanzees, among other monstrous animal victuals. It’s Jurassic Park by way of the Food Network.
Some of the creatures in CWCM2 are devilishly clever, like the giant long-necked scallions that delicately chew treetop vegetation in the manner of the brontosauruses in the Spielberg movie, or the stampeding bananas resembling the voracious velociraptors in the same. Others feel overly familiar, like the pickles whose juvenile antics steal (poorly) from the Minions in the Despicable Me franchise. And others, like the cuddly marshmallows with tiny pink tongues, well … they’re just downright creepy (but in a good way).
For both kids and adults, CWCM2 is little more than a vague memory as soon as it’s over. Flint’s doofus qualities make for a less-than-memorable protagonist, while the supporting players barely register onscreen given the unwieldy number of them. Only Flint’s sidekick, a monkey named Steve, makes an impression, one that is all the more delicious knowing that Neil Patrick Harris voices the simian’s primate chatter. While there’s some pointed work-ethic satire in the Silicon Valley-ish company where Flint toils on his many contraptions, this taste of grownup humor can’t overcome the movie’s one simple purpose: to cash in on its predecessor’s Golden Globe-nominated success. That’s nothing new for a flick primarily aimed at 8-year-olds, but it’s still enough to give you a tummy ache.