With the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte, James Caan, Andy Samberg. Written by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein. Directed by Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn. Rated PG for mild rude humor. 95 minutes.
What can we learn from CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2? Scientists are evil. Fishing is good. Poop jokes are funny. There are half-dozen such jokes (the first just minutes into the film) and since the film only runs an hour-and-a-half, that’s one every quarter hour.
Supposedly continuing the adventures of Flint Lockwood (voice of Bill Hader) from the first film, this is a bizarre story that may not even appeal to the youngsters who liked the first one. In the original Flint invented a machine that could make food out of water, but when combined with a storm, it led to it raining cheeseburgers and the like. Hilarity supposedly ensued, especially if you were under 10.
In the new film, Flint and his friends are still facing the mess from the first movie, but now famous scientist Chester V. (Will Forte) promises to have his team do the job if everyone temporarily leaves the island. Flint gets the opportunity to join Chester’s company, Live Corp. Chester––who comes across as if he works for Apple–is a bit weird and we discover that the weirdness is hiding an agenda that is not the wholesome goodness that is the company’s image. It seems Flint’s machine is now creating foodstuffs that are more like animals and which are taking out Chester’s clean-up teams. Flint is sent on a mission to find and shut down his invention.
To dwell on the story any further would be to give it more thought than the filmmakers did. If all the fruits and vegetables now have faces and limbs like animals, how come some of them are getting turned into equally living cheeseburgers and tacos? (Consider this like the question of how Mickey Mouse can have one dog as a friend in Goofy and another as a pet in Pluto. It makes no sense given the premise of the world depicted.)
The cleverness, such as it is, comes from figuring out what the sentient fruit and vegetables would look like: strawberries are cute, cheeseburgers are scary, cantaloupes have seeds for teeth, potatoes are like hippos, etc. Then there are the puns. Flint’s seafaring father Tim (James Caan) shouts, “There’s a leak in my boat.” Then we see a befuddled leek. If your four-year-old is not a foodie, he or she may not get the joke.
Most of the humor is that sort of lame. Police officer Earl (Terry Crews replacing Mr. T) runs into a dangerous situation holding his fingers as if he was carrying a gun. Brent (Andy Samberg) loses his chicken suit but is revealed to be wearing a diaper. He says he wishes he had another diaper with him. Oh, and everyone at Live Corp. drinks endless cups of designer coffee. Are you laughing yet?
“Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2” took the notion of playing with food from the mildly amusing first film and asks the question, “What if the food could play back?” That might have been mildly amusing as well if not for the bargain basement mad scientist story grafted on to pad out the proceedings. Undiscriminating youngsters may be diverted, but even grownups who were somehow charmed by the original movie will have a hard time swallowing this sorry stew.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s A Secret: A Novel About Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide has just been released. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.