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“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2:” A movie for the young and young-at-heart

“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2:” A movie for the young and young-at-heart

From veteran business executives to first-time employees, all adults share one common trait.

They just want to be kids again.

Of course, they rarely admit to this, instead boasting about their jobs, cars, houses, and whatever other perk of adulthood they can imagine.   None of this, thought can compare to discovering imaginary worlds and completing daring adventures in the backyard.

“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” brings to life such childhood fantasies in a creative and inventive sequel whose colorful animation, lovable characters, and fun storyline will entertain both the young and young at heart.

Shortly saving the world from a disastrous storm that rained giant pieces of food from the sky, aspiring inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his friends leave their island of Swallow Falls to find new jobs as their homes are excavated from underneath oversized pizzas. With his FLDSMDFR machine finally destroyed, Flint can focus on other, hopefully less malicious, inventions. He even lands his dream job working for his idol Chester V (Will Forte) at The Live Corp Company, where inventors from all over the world submit their ideas to change the world.

But he soon learns that the FLDSMDFR is still operational and has turned Swallow Falls into a food jungle populated by giant edible animals. Now Flint, his father (James Caan), his friends Sam (Anna Faris), Brent (Andy Samberg), Manny (Benjamin Bratt), Officer Earl (Terry Crews, replacing Mr. T from the first film), and his pet monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) must return to the island to save their home and the world – again.

Under different circumstances, a plot so similar to the original film would feel repetitive and uninteresting. Instead, directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn cook up a delectable sequel strong enough to stand on its own merits.  Their Swallow Falls and its “foodimal” inhabitants feel like the product of a five-year-old’s imagination, free-spirited and limitless in its possibilities.

While the storyline is far from complex and fairly predictable, it is entertaining and the witty dialogue holds the momentum and delivers laughs for kids and parents alike.

In a film about living food, there will certainly be opportunities for creative animation, and Cameron and Pearn deliver with bright and lively food jungles bursting with color, and the “foodimals” therein make up an entire ecosystem’s worth of clever puns. The flamangos, shrimpanzees, cheespiders, and feared tacodile supreme are hilariously drawn as convincing (and mouthwatering) food-animal hybrids. 

The real stars, though, are the charming main characters. Flint is a lovably awkward hero whose enthusiasm and exaggerated facial expressions are endearing.  His father has substantially more lines than he did in the first film and a decent side plot about teaching humanoid pickles to fish for sardines. But ironically, the funniest character is Steve, who can speak only one word at a time but delivers consistent laughs. Barry the talking strawberry, who befriends the group early on, is also a fruit of few words, but its attempts to communicate like a human are commendable and hilarious.

Only two things are needed to enjoy “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2:” childlike imagination and a sense of humor, because this is one of the happiest films released in a long time. That in itself will should take even the most cynical back to the long lost days of make believe they so desperately want to relive.

**** out of five

 

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