While it was never very popular, critically, I remember really liking ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’. It wasn’t the smartest or the most original (conceptually or in delivery) but it was cute; really cute. The dialog and gimmick was well balanced and created a fast paced animated adventure that was a breeze to watch, easy and comfortable. My kids lapped it up like it was candy (pun intended) and my wife and I sat back and enjoyed some mindless entertainment that wasn’t mind-numbing.
The previews for ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ made this look like the bigger, better version of the same formula, and I was hooked almost instantly.
I had to see this.
Despite my clear desire to see this in the theater with my kids, I wound up seeing ‘Gravity’ instead. I made the right call.
It isn’t that ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ is bad, because it isn’t, but it wears out its welcome relatively quickly by thrusting all of its wit at you at once and exhausting its charm to the point where the second half starts to drag by not offering us anything new, improved or exciting. I love the fact that the film literally picks up EXACTLY where the previous film left off, but the film also literally starts to dig its own whole the minute the opening scene is over.
As an obvious homage (and complete rip-off) of ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ gives Flint Lockwood a whole new world to explore. When he is recruited rather suspiciously by the famed inventor (and his personal hero) Chester V, Flint immediately sets out to make a name for himself and earn Chester’s respect, but that is harder to do than he expected and soon he finds himself face to face with failure, that is, until Chester needs him to locate his food machine. The problem is that the island Flint once inhabited is now densely populated by living food. With his gang of misfits in toe (including the hilarious Earl as well as his monkey Steve and his girlfriend Sam), Flint sets off to find his machine only to have Earl’s true intentions reveal an evil plan Flint must prevent.
Yes, the food/animal mashups are fun, and the ‘Jurassic Park’ inspirations are, in a way, inspired, but they can’t carry this film and they are pretty much expected to. The film is a handful of great ideas strung together with lazy construction. Even the villainous Chester V (who the film never goes to any length to hide his villainy) feels like something we’ve seen before, and the admiration on Flint’s face mixed with the obvious disappointment that comes from realizing his idol is a lunatic felt very much like ‘Up’ redux. But, as I mentioned, my main complaint is that the film exhausts all of its good ideas so early on, to the point where there is nothing left to get excited over.
Although I will admit that I laughed at the ‘celebrate’ reprise.
I give this a C. I wanted this to be stronger than it was, but this is certainly one of those cases where the trailer served up all the best scenes and set a bar too high for the rest of the film to reach. Oscar passed this one over, and I must admit that even 'The Croods' was better than this one. I will say this though, the production designs here are really great, and this is what I expected to get out of 'Epic' in that respect, a film that was visually uninteresting where this is visually compelling. Sadly, this still wasn't a much better movie than that one.