Directed by: Cody Cameron & Kris Pearn
Written by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, Erica Rivinoja
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg
The popular saying of never meeting your idols has plenty of validity because idolization typically consists of elevating someone beyond how we see other people, making them superhuman in a sense. It makes the experience of meeting them a disappointment because we see they have the same human flaws and deficiencies as others. Imagine discovering your idol not only was not perfect but also a very dangerous and evil man. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 shows this horrifying discovery in an acceptable sequel.
Now with the FLDSMDFR machine down, Flint’s (Bill Hader) town must begin an epic clean up of all the food from the sky. Luckily, arriving onto the scene is Chester V (Will Forte), CEO of Live Corp, who Flint has idolized since childhood. Chester V offers the group the opportunity for his company to clean up the island with them temporarily being relocated to San FranJose. While a nice gesture, it appears Chester has more sinister plans for the island.
I would argue, saying Chester V is an evil character would not serve as a spoiler, because it’s revealed incredibly early in the story and if you take one look at this character there would be no way he could be a good guy. If you’ve seen any children’s or animated films, it will be easy to decipher that a man looking like Chester V will become your worst nightmare and he proves to be just that. He arrives seemingly out of nowhere, hoping to assist this community as some sort of philanthropist. Certainly, a commentary on these tech billionaires saying they want to help communities, but continually display their vile self-interest time after time.
The introduction to Chester and the immediate subsequent scenes shows the greatness this story had, as it maintained the same level of sharpness as the first film. It demonstrated Flint getting offered a job to work for Live Corp, which has always been his dream. The offices of this corporation obviously do a riff on Google and how they make the work environment such a priority with their nice drinks and recreation, while also sucking out every ounce of their employee’s creativity for fiscal gain. So much of the commentary has razor-sharp intentions, but once the film transitions back onto the island home of Flint and his crew, everything shifts in tone, and a lesser movie takes over.
Instead of focusing on Flint’s creativity from independence shifting to having to produce for a corporate machine, which would have been a strong story to observe, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 turns into a Jurassic Park-style movie where the food turned into sentient beings. Yes, you heard that right, apparently, the FLDSMDFR has survived and now somehow creates food acting like animals. Reader, if only you could see my reaction when I noticed the direction this story decided to take on. An unfortunate shift because the film set up the foundation for the life of Flint in the corporate world and then it abruptly becomes about saving the food/animals. This quick change makes the true story feel very underdeveloped as a result. We get thrust into this new circumstance and we simply have to roll with it.
Narratively, the film struggles but it still lands some epic food puns. I had a great time trying to guess which animal/food name combination would be utilized with my favorite being Shrimpanzee. If you’re a regular reader of my reviews, you know I love me some puns, but it could not elevate the fairly basic story this film shifted towards. Certainly, it has its own message and it creates some fun sequences to enjoy, but mostly everything feels unearned by the end. Chester V loses his bite as a character and nearly every supporting character gets so much less development where it made me wonder exactly why they even tagged along for this new story.
This certainly does not take away from the visuals, which beautifully shifted the food into appearing like animals. The cuteness certainly emanates from them as they get presented as monsters from the very beginning. The island certainly has a newer, wilder look to it, which adds some vibrancy and expansion to the world we saw in the previous film. Certainly, the animation style of this film gets no critique from me.
Still with plenty of moments of fun but overall a disappointing story, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 becomes a bit of a mixed bag. It expands the story but cannot make up its mind of what type of story it wants to tell. The narrative felt rushed and thus became ineffective in moments, but it also brings back such lovable characters continually trying to learn in new ways.