Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009) was a rare pleasant surprise in children’s 3-D animation. The creative team behind it took a silly and darn near irritating children’s book and turned it into a surprisingly quirky, sweet and funny movie. I avoided the movie in the theaters because I didn’t like the book and really didn’t want to see that particular story stretched out to feature length with pop psychology filler and pop-culture references. When I saw it 2 years after its theatrical release, because my son insisted that I sit down and watch it with him, I laughed so much that I went right to the computer and ordered a blue ray copy off of Amazon.
When a sequel was announced, I was suspicious because the original directors weren’t directing and honestly, I couldn’t see a sequel to a movie that shouldn’t have been good in the first place, but you never know. There have been good sequels to kids animation before, right? Toy Story 3 standing out as the Jewel in The Crown.
Anyway, this movie was a snooze. It was everything I expected the first film to be: dull and pointless and NOT funny. The contraption that turns water into food from the first film starts producing living food in the shape of animals. I saw that concept in the trailers and it bothered me because they were basically exploring and watering down the climax of the first movie which depicted rather creepy, unsettling scenes of walking roasted chickens trying to maul our heroes. Well, not only do they run that concept into the ground with endless puns and unfunny sight gags, they don’t even explore the idea as a theme, as in living food such as animals should not be killed and eaten. You may or may not agree with a vegan theme for a kids movie but it beats not having any theme.
Furthermore, the writers decided to pick on poor, dead Steve Jobs and Apple as the bad guy (with a cheap character history flashback straight out of Pixar’s Up.) when you have all this corporate food hustling going on in America. In the past year I’ve seen more documentaries about food than I can count. It seems to be the topic of the decade and yet this film series that seems poised to comment about the issue WON’T comment about the issue. Really, in the first film, the hero, Flint Lockwood, is tasked to produce junk food to stimulate his town’s economy. The first film didn’t quite point the finger the country for demanding such unhealthy treats (probably because there would be no McDonald’s and Subway movie tie-ins otherwise) but the idea was addressed albeit with kid gloves and so subtly as to be cowardly, with Bruce Campell’s Mayor character. So it seems to me if you’re going to do a sequel, the shock and opportunity of a machine that can produce junk food out of thin air would be too much for fast food giants to resist. There could have been any number of stories of Flint being made to be the hapless pawn in the food wars, where he would have to step up and take a stand toward healthy eating, you know, topical and basic conflict = drama type stuff. But no, the producers and creatives were content to make their money producing drivel about nothing that relates to no one.
Avoid this movie. It’s a time waster.