Jan 13, 2014

[Movies] Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)

I had rather enjoyed the quirkiness of the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs when it came out a few years ago. It wasn't exactly the most life-changing movie out there, but I do rather enjoy food being crazy. And this movie certainly pushed the limits of where food could go - at least until the sequel came around.

Then comes the most unexpected sequel Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. Immediately it was pretty obvious that this was a safe, money-driven sequel given the the first movie had already taken extreme liberties with the source material (which to be fair, was a children's book so that's really not much material to work with) and they didn't even bother to give the movie a clever name. Instead they just tacked a 2 at the end of it and left things at that.

I finally caught this movie as part of the in-flight entertainment features on my way home from Singapore over the holidays. I wasn't particularly concerned that I was watching this potentially vibrant and visual movie on the limited screen nested into the seat in front of me (and and a slight angle at that) since I didn't really have high expectations for the movie. But I was curious enough to invest my flight time into following this little adventure.

Synopsis: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a 2013 animated sequel to the 2009 movie. The movie was directed  by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn with a screenplay by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein and Erica Rivinoja.

Immediately after saving the world as seen in the first movie, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his friends decide to put up a laboratory together to continue to work together. But before they can even begin to start on these plans in earnest, the clean-up crews of super-inventor Chester V (Will Forte), who is also Flint's childhood hero, show up at the island. The relocate all the residents of Swallow Falls to San Franjose, California until they can complete clearing the island. At the same time, Chester invites Flint to join his company. Live Corp, given his scientific achievement that lead to the food island to begin with.

However Chester has an ulterior motive - he's determined to get his hands on the FLDSMDFR lost somewhere on the island after Flint had deactivated it in the first movie. Six months later the residents of Swallow Falls still haven't been allowed back on the island and Chester's search teams have not only failed to find the device but have also been mysteriously disappearing. Eventually Chester tasks Flint to return to the island to use a special thumb drive to disable the machine given the island is now teeming with dangerous food creatures that may eventually migrate off the island and threaten the rest of the world.

The whole premise around Chester V and his evil plans wasn't the greatest piece of writing out there. It made for a rather weak conflict as the core plot of the movie and it didn't help that Chester was just another weird Steve Jobs inspired archetype. I'm no Apple fan, but that character was just annoying to no end. The only thing that made the whole Chester sub-plot palatable was probably Barb (Kristen Schaal), Chester's talking orangutan assistant. She's a heck of a lot smarter than Flint's monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), although Steve was certainly cuter. I just enjoyed how snippy Barb was throughout most of the movie.

The movie's pride and joy are the many amazing food-inspired creatures that they came up with. I swear, I really did laugh when some of them were introduced. Many were visualized food puns (I'll never get over the one about a leek in the boat), while some were truly crazily beautiful like the tacodile. But others were just strange like the cheeseburger spiders, which didn't seem all that logical at all. I'm willing to watch clips of the movie over and over again as long as said clips focus on the foodimals scattered throughout the movie.

The little life lesson that Flint will inevitably learn about the importance of friends is a decent piece of kiddie morals but still a little shallow on the whole. And this wasn't quite an overwhelming challenging lesson to get given the alternative was to become a freaky isolated super-inventor like Chester V. And really, no one would ever want to be Chester V if you spent more than 5 minutes with him and his holograms.

On the whole, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 was a decent source of entertainment and fun but didn't quite have the same emotional impact as the first one. Flint's entire cast of supporting characters can be reduced to the term "Flint's friends" as a collective group given they didn't really shine individually in this movie. So I can only rate this return to the food island as 3 sardine-eating pickles out of a possible 5.

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