Rated PG for mild rude humor
Written by Judy Barrett, Ron Barrett and more
Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn
Starring Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte and more
Sometimes, what looks absurd from a distance can turn out to be secretly brilliant.
Take, for example, the idea that Jurassic Park was the perfect source material for a kids’ movie, as long as you replaced the dinosaurs with hilariously random food creatures. On the surface it may seem absolutely ridiculous, but “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” is proof that it’s also the recipe for a fun, adorable movie that will charm adults as much as it will kids. It’s a rare sequel that may be even more entertaining than the original.
For those who haven’t seen the first movie, “2” starts off with a voice-over montage that explains Flint Lockwood’s history of invention disaster and his creation of a machine that turns water into food. The machine goes crazy, andenormous pizzas and cheeseburgers threaten to crush the world, but Lockwood and our team of heroes save the day. The sequel starts seconds after all of this happens, with a cleanup crew that ushers the innocent townspeople off of their island home and sets up the scene for how “Jurassic Park: Grocery Edition” happens.
The real fun starts once the action moves back to the island, which in six months has transformed into a buffet-style jungle paradise. The science is hand-waved in favor of sheer creativity, with enormous burger-and-fries spiders and taco-diles that are bigger than the average elephant. There are coconut milk waterfalls, strawberries with arms, legs and complex if unintelligible language, and butter frogs and toast butterflies with a complex relationship. Even the smallest touches are wonderful – the burger spiders shoot out cheese web – and every creature was chock-full of personality. Even creatures as simple as a swimming marshmallow were so cute I desperately wanted to cuddle them.
All of the characters from the original movie are back, and though Lockwood is just as naive as he was in the first film, everyone else’s character development has stayed firmly in place. Sam Sparks, Flint’s friend and the gently hinted-at love interest voiced by Anna Faris, is delightfully confident in her own intelligence and validity as a scientist. Flint’s dad Tim tries hard to be supportive of a son who’s very different than he is, and the sheer depth of that effort leads to some of the most touching moments in the movie. I never thought pickles could be adorable, but Tim (and voice actor James Caan) proved me wrong.
Manny, voiced by Benjamin Bratt, doesn’t need character development to be awesome. His poker-faced delivery is responsible for several of the movie’s best laughs. Brent McHale, voiced by Andy Samburg, is there to supply the movie’s physical comedy needs.
The villain of the piece is clearly an evil Steve Jobs, with just enough of a “Google” vibe thrown in to keep the Apple lawyers a little confused. It’s not a particularly venomous shot, with the sleek whiteness and admittedly cool elevators serving more as a decorating scheme than a life philosophy. The villain himself is straight out of the evil mentor handbook, and follows that handbook word-for-word when preying on young Flint’s naivete and hero-worship. It’s tired writing, and the only reason it works at all is because they’ve established that Flint really is just as innocent and wide-eyed as they’re making him out to be.
Mostly, though, the movie serves as a love song to the power of imagination and being open to new possibilities. If those possibilities turn out to involve banana flamingos, so much the better.