By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Some viewers might be gasping for air after watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. A huge part of this movie relies on sight gags and figuring out the names of the various foodimals—creatures born from food before they are identified. Deep in the torrid jungle of leeks, apple-piethons and widebeets is a plethora of puns that are only really effective to hear once. When the best parts of the movie are revealed in the early trailers, to finally see those moments on the big screen falls flat. If there is a part of the film that works, that’s with the end-credits since no one has seen an early preview of.
The story here is borrowed from a familiar concept: Chester V (Will Forte) is a wealthy and much adored scientist who runs The Live Corp Company. He rides on the work and success of other scientists’ ideas. If he has created anything new lately, the movie does not show any sign of it. He’s a mishmash of innovators—like that of Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs—who has more than a futurists’ vision of how life should be like in the next century. Even Walt Disney had a foresight to create a wonderful world; in this movie, it’s an island paradise occupied by living plants and manufactured food products.
Toss in some references from past well-known movies, namely Jurassic Park, to please the adults, and that’s this movie in a nutshell. Sadly, the humour is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
A few chuckles are well-earned by the Steve, the pet monkey of Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), but the rest of the comedy just does not work. The screenplay just does not have the same fire as before. When Lockwood is on a mission ordered by Chester V to venture back to his island home of Swallow Falls, there is a premise of a basic plot. He is being sent to recover the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator” (FLDSMDFR) because everyone else has encountered problems.
When all the sentient food creatures are exhibiting signs of survival instincts, everyone is in trouble. Chester believes they will escape the island and destroy the world. And it’s up to Lockwood to save the day.
With such a generic plot, some viewers may well wonder just what kind of story direction Phil Lord and Chris Miller is going for? Since this sequel is not following up on the books of the same name, the tale they crafted is a very well-to-do continuation of the first movie. But as a standalone product, not many viewers may care for it. To follow up on this film will be very difficult, since the story is mostly neatly packed up.
At least ten minutes of the 95 min product is spent recapping the events. With five minutes worth of credits at the end, the time left is not enough to tell a very good story.
This movie feels like it is developed to push a lot of film merchandise to kids wanting memorabilia than that of two relatable characters looking to make that next step in their relationship. The hero versus villain dynamic is just not quite there. The first movie was enjoyable because it had Lockwood fumbling in his attempt to win his dad’s approval. The subplot of him gaining Samantha Sparks (Anna Faris) attention was also adorable. With this film, they are in that zone where both accept each other as close friends. With no spark there, the question of where the life is in this movie is simply answered by a misguided attempt to focus on more glitz.
To find glamour requires digging in the mire to find if anything good from this film can stand out. Not even the 3D truly shines. A few seconds here and there only shows Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was developed with the standard schlock to amaze viewers with. It does not immerse viewers into the world of Swallow Falls. Had it have been, then everyone would have become amazed.