MRR Review: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2"

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After the devastating food storm in the first film caused by his machine, Flint Lockwood and his friends are forced to leave the town of Swallow Falls. Flint accepts the invitation from his idol Chester V to join The Live Corp Company, which has been tasked to clean the island, and where the best inventors in the world create technologies for the betterment of mankind and planet Earth. Upon arriving back at Swallow Falls, Flint discovers that his machine still operates and now creates sentient food beasts like humanoid and self-aware pickles, hungry tacodile supremes, shrimpanzees, melonheads, mosquitoasts, watermelophants, and apple pie-thons. It's up to Flint and his friends to put a stop to the machine once and for all before this new form of foody life breaks from the island and invades the blue planet.
3.5

Movie Review: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2"

Rating: PG (mild rude humor)
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Directed by: Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Family

At the end of the first "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," young Flint (Bill Hader) invents a food machine that he calls the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (FLDSMDFR); it malfunctions and begins to rain down massive amounts of food, threatening everything in its path. Flint manages to stop the machine before it destroys the entire town, becoming a hero. In "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," Flint is offered a job by his inventor hero, Chester V (Will Forte) of the Live Corp Company. It is his dream job, so he packs up his friends, including his hilarious monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) and his girlfriend Sam (Anna Faris), and heads out of the town of Swallow Falls, leaving behind a Live Corp crew to clean up the mess from the first film.

For six months, Flint dutifully works to impress Chester V and his lipstick-wearing, human-brained orangutan Barb (Kristen Schaal) with his newest inventions, oblivious to the fact that his FLDSMDFR is still functional. Unbeknownst to him, a mysterious person or group has fixed the machine, and`it is now creating food-animal hybrids that are threatening to take over the town again. There is a Shrimpanzee, a chimpanzee-shrimp monstrosity, and a Tacodile Supreme, part taco and part crocodile. They are adorably called foodimals, but there is nothing actually adorable about them; they present a major threat to humanity.

The foodimals are rapidly becoming more intelligent and are actively looking for a way to get off the island they inhabit. All they need to do is figure out how to swim, and then they can swim away and begin terrorizing the entire country, perhaps the world. It is up to Flint to once again clean up the mess that his FLDSMDFR has created; only this time there is much more at stake. Can Flint be the hero again? Or will the foodimals take over everything and turn humans into their minions?

One of the most endearing things about the original "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" was that the characters were all very loveable. Thankfully, most the original cast has returned, with the exception of Mr. T as Officer Earl Devereaux, now played by seasoned actor Terry Crews. Forte and Schaal are playing new characters, but they manage to fit right into the universe of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2." This is a true ensemble cast in every sense of the phrase, because the characters feel like a team. Sure, some such as Harris's Steve or Schaal's Barb stand out because of their comic timing, but they are still cogs in a much greater machine, and nobody hogs the spotlight.

The first film was based on a book of the title by Judi and Ron Barrett, who also wrote a sequel called Pickles to Pittsburgh. Although the second book is absolutely delightful, the producers of the movie sequel decided to go in another direction completely, commissioning an original story idea that is arguably even better than the story in the first film, which is a very rare feat for a sequel. Screenwriters John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, and Erica Rivinoja have recaptured the spirit of the original while giving it a complete makeover as well. The result is a story with familiar characters in mostly unfamiliar situations that feel fresh, new, and fun. It is easily one of the best family films of the year, and a case can be made for it being the best, even with heady competition such as "Despicable Me 2" and "The Croods."

Speaking of "Despicable Me 2," that film and its predecessor had the Minions, the main character's cute little incomprehensible workers who do his bidding. They threatened to steal the film out from under the main characters with their gibberish and antics. In similar fashion, the foodimals of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" threaten to become the favorite part of the film. They are just as fun as the main characters and interesting enough to support their own film. Fox realized how popular the Minions are and commissioned a movie just for them. Perhaps Sony can do the same with the foodimals. Even if the studio passes on such a project, having them as the villains in this film will almost surely net "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" a nomination in the Best Animated Film category when awards season rolls around.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5