I arrived late in discovering one of the funniest, brightest, and most imaginative films of 2009, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. A colleague of mine swore by its brilliance and lent me his Blu-ray. And he was right. Packed with more jokes, heart, and inventiveness than most comedies, writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller adapted Judi and Ron Barrett’s children’s book into one of the best animated films of that year.
While Lord and Miller have moved into the world of live-action with the hilarious 21 Jump Street—but have gone back to their roots for next year’s The Lego Movie—they have returned to the Cloudy sequel, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, as executive producers, handing the reigns over to directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. The latter duo’s credits may only include the straight-to-video Open Season 3, have no fear, they have once again delivered one of the best comedies—and best animated feature so far—of 2013.
Cloudy 2 picks up right where the first film left off: Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris) have just saved the island town of Swallow Falls from Flint’s out of control “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator” (FLDSMDFR for short) eight minutes ago. Now, Flint’s childhood hero, Chester V (voiced by Will Forte) of The Live Corp Company, hires Flint to work for him as the town is evacuated to San Fran Jose, California, while Live Corp cleans up the island. Flint isn’t fond of his desk job, but takes every chance he can to submit every invention he can think of in order to be named Live Corp’s newest Thinquanaut.
After a malfunction of Flint’s latest invention—a party in a box called the “Celebratinator”—Chester V has his right-hand ape, Barb (voiced by Kristen Schaal), enlist Flint in his diabolical scheme to find Flint’s FLDSMDFR. The contraption has turned Swallow Falls into a version of Land of the Lost, featuring food-animals such as tacodile supremes, shrimpanzees, PB & Jellyfishes, and the most dangerous of all, cheese spiders. Now, Flint calls upon the help of Sam, his dad Tim (voiced by James Caan), Baby Brent (voiced by Andy Samberg), Manny (Benjamin Bratt), Officer Earl Devereaux (voiced by Terry Crews, replacing Mr. T), and of course, Steve (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris), to return to Swallow Falls with him.
Be sure to eat before seeing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, because there’s enough food on display to make anyone feel like they’re starving. Thankfully, the food jokes never get old, and there’s always something fresh around the corner. The sweet little Barry the Strawberry (voiced by co-director Cameron) makes a valiant effort to steal the show, with Steve continuing to give him a run for the money.
The sequel’s screenplay, by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein (of Horrible Bosses), and Erica Rivinoja (who has 72 episodes of South Park under her belt), certainly delivers a sequel that rivals the original. The voice cast keeps the one-liners flying fast and furious, with the directors throwing as many visual gags as possible on screen. This year hasn’t had too many fantastic animated features, but Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a surefire bet at the Oscars. And it’s the year’s most appetizing adventure.
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