Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2: Film Review
Friday, Sept. 27 (Sony Pictures)
Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Neil Patrick Harris
Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn
Bill Hader, Anna Faris and James Caan once again lend their voices to the follow-up to the 2009 animated hit.
It might not possess the robust charm of its 2009 predecessor, but Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 nevertheless gets an amusing boost from a genetically modified, marauding menagerie of Tacodiles, Watermelophants, Sasquashes and assorted other "Foodimals" that have overtaken the once-tranquil island of Swallow Falls.
While the inventive mashups make the rest of the storytelling feel like an undercooked side dish by comparison, their presence alone should ensure that the 3D animated sequel easily whets the appetite of the broad audience that made the first installment a $243 million worldwide box-office treat.
Provided they've allowed a sufficient distance from the self-cannibalizing summer 2013 animation glut, Sony Pictures, handing the release the slot occupied this time last year by Hotel Transylvania, should anticipate similarly sunny results.
Where the first movie took a loose cue from the book of the same name by Judi and Ron Barrett, the sequel goes off in its own direction rather than taking a page out of their print follow-up, Pickles to Pittsburgh.
Picking up mere moments from where things left off in the last installment, Cloudy 2 finds Swallow Falls having to cope with the big, gooey mess left by those spaghetti tornadoes and other torrential tidbits.
Overseeing the massive clean-up operation is Chester V (voiced by Will Forte), a blue-jean billionaire cross between Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and P.T. Barnum who heads up the Live Corp. global empire.
Dealing with those masses of leftovers means temporarily relocating well-meaning inventor Flint Lockwood (the returning Bill Hader), along with perky meteorologist Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), reformed nemesis "Baby" Brent (Andy Samberg), Steve the Monkey (Neil Patrick Harris), former police officer Earl Devereaux (Terry Crews ably replacing the original's Mr. T) and Flint's stoic dad (James Caan).
But upon returning, they discover their home has been overrun by the aforementioned Foodimals (also including Shrimpanzees, Susheep, French fry-legged Cheespiders and swarms of Mosquitoasts), being churned out by the presumed-disabled FLDSMDFR.
It also turns out that Chester V isn't the benevolent guru/mentor the impressionable Flint thought he was.
Having moved on to 21 Jump Street and the upcoming Lego Movie, the first film's Phil Lord and Chris Miller handed over the directorial reins to Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, both of whom have a long association with Sony Pictures Animation.
Swapping the disaster-flick motif of the original for a monster-movie overlay, they lend the proceedings a zippy visual energy and get fine support from their energetic voice cast.
But they can't gloss over the uninspired plotting, convoluted exposition (especially in the clunky setup that gets the characters off the island) and truly pun-ishing dialogue credited to Erica Rivinoja (South Park) and John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses).
And although the 3D barely computes, few will likely notice -- what with all those flocking Flamangos and wide-eyed strawberries providing ample distraction.
Production: Sony Pictures Animation
Voice cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews, Kristen Schaal
Directors: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Screenwriters: Erica Rivinoja, John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein
Executive producers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Producers: Pam Marsden, Kirk Bodyfelt
Production designer: Justin Thompson
Editor: Stan Webb
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Rated PG, 95 minutes