My wife, 4-year old daughter and I were recently invited by another family to go see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. As you can imagine, whether you have kids or not, I was not looking forward to losing two hours of my time sitting in a theatre watching a movie with that title. I hadn't seen the original movie, so I was quite surprised when I heard that enough people had seen the original to inspire a sequel.
To my very pleasant surprise, the movie was quite enjoyable and the writers did a fine job of giving the script an independent story-line that did not require us to have seen the first. The plot revolves around an awkward, but genius young inventor named Flint Lockwood (voiced by SNL alum Bill Hader) whose invention from the first movie (I won't even try to correctly type the unpronounceable name) was a machine that turned water into food. Unfortunately, the food, when produced, popped out of the machine as living food animals. [Stick with me here. Let your imagination take over]. The food animals devastated Flint's small island town of Swallow Falls, and Flint was forced to destroy his machine...or at least he thought he destroyed it in the first film.
At the start of the sequel, we learn that Flint is now a hated man due to the destruction and fear his invention created. When the opportunity arises to fix what he had broken with his idol and the most famous inventor on the planet, Chester V (voiced by SNL alum Will Forte), Flint jumps at the opportunity to work in Chester V's think tank and be a part of what he expects are Chester's good and generous intentions.
The conflict in the movie surrounds Flint, Flint's father and girlfriend, and his friends going back to Swallow Falls to find the machine and shut it down for good. While searching for the invention and trying to survive the food animals, the group learns the truth about the food animals, as well as the truth about the intentions of Chester V. It is a wild ride for a little over an hour and a half that ends with a number of positive lessons learned for the characters, as well as for my toddler movie mates.
As much fun as we had as a family, I really enjoyed listening closely to the voices of the characters trying to figure out which actor belonged to each famous voice. I was happily surprised to see such a strong cast of former SNL players (Hader, Forte, Samburg), as well as a strong supporting cast (Neil Patrick Harris, James Caan, Anna Faris and Benjamin Bratt to name a few) during the credits. Although it was a cartoon, the quality of the cast was a big reason why the PG plot was executed as well as it was.
I don't think it lives up to the magic of Disney or Pixar, but Sony Animation/Columbia Pictures should be applauded for a quality movie that has my whole family determined to rent the original ...Chance of Meatballs on DVD in the near future. Because of that, I give the movie 3 out of 4 dribbles. Adults will probably not want to waste their time and money, but if you have kids and want a fun family night out, I highly recommend it.
Next Week: Gravity