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Film review: ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” Pretty Tasty

CLOUDY1Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a hit in 2009 and rightfully so: its story, characterizations and animation were very entertaining. Now comes (surprise, surprise) the sequel, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. Yes, like most follow-ups this one’s not the fresh menu item its predecessor was, but it’s still pretty tasty.

CLOUDY9The sequel’s story starts 60 seconds after the first film’s narrative ends: earnest young inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) thinks he’s destroyed the Flint Lockwood Diatomic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (“FLDSMDFR” for short) that amazingly turned water into food, but ultimately unleashed cheeseburger downpours, spaghetti tornados and other foodie-weather disasters that threatened to annihilate the world.

CLOUDY6Lockwood soon learns his invention survived, though. It’s now creating hybrid creatures known as “foodimals” – tacodiles, shrimpanzees, hippotatomuses, cheespiders and others – on his home island of Swallow Falls. That of course means Lockwood, his sardine-loving dad Tim (James Caan), meteorologist Sam Sparks (Anna Farris) and their friends must save the planet again.

CLOUDY2For the adults, satire comes in the form of San Franjose – no prizes for working out where that not-entirely-fictional latte-loving locale is – where our hero and his mates (accompanied by a fresh Paul McCartney song simply called “New”) go after Live Corp. evacuates them from Swallow Falls. Heading that oh-so-Silicon-Valley-type operation is Chester V (Will Forte), who comes off as a cross between Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tony Robbins, assisted by an orangutan with a human brain named Barb (Kristen Schaal). For the kids a cute strawberry, adorable marshmallows, musical pickles and plenty of silly/scary moments abound.

CLOUDY3The scope of this film’s animation (which is presented in 2D and 3D screenings) is even broader and bigger than its 2009 predecessor, particularly in the Swallow Falls sequences. The storyline doesn’t go too deep, dodging such a question as what the humans in its story will do for food once they become friends with the stuff, but it does address the need to stay true to yourself and those you care about, which is a reminder children of all ages should regularly receive.

CLOUDY7The pacing, fun (even some of the creaky puns), top-notch voice acting and state-of-the-art animation make Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 quite digestible. Those who’ve seen the first film and those who haven’t should basically enjoy it in equal measure (though see the enjoyable original on DVD, Blu-Ray or cable TV if you haven’t already).

 

 

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (www.cloudy-movie.com) opens nationally in wide release today (Sept. 27). For locations and show times in the Nashville area check the websites of Regal Cinemas (www.regmovies.com), Carmike Cinemas (www.carmike.com) and Malco Theatres (www.malco.com). Rated PG for mild rude humor, 95 min. Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, written by Erica Rivinoja, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein with story by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Rivinoja; inspired by the book “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. Starring the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews and Kristen Schaal.

*Animation stills courtesy Sony Pictures Animation.

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About Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell is the chief theater, film and opera critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He wrote reviews and features about theater, opera and classical music for The Tennessean from 2002 to 2011. He was the theater, film and opera critic for ArtNowNashville.com from 2011 to 2012. Donnell has also contributed to The Sondheim Review, Back Stage, The City Paper (Nashville), the Nashville Banner, The (Bowling Green, Ky.) Daily News and several other publications since beginning his professional journalism career in 1985 with The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat. He was selected as a fellow for the 2004 National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) arts journalism institutes for theater and musical theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2006 and classical music and opera at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 2009. He has also been an actor (member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA), founding and running AthensSouth Theatre from 1996 to 2001 and appearing in Milos Forman's "The People vs Larry Flynt" among other credits. Donnell is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (www.americantheatrecritics.org).