In 2009's "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," aspiring inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) built a machine that could convert water into food. But every advancement in technology has its dark side, and in the equally enjoyable "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," Lockwood's machine becomes the object of relentless corporate greed.
"Cloudy 2" picks up in the aftermath of the first film, when Flint's machine (nicknamed the FLDSMDFR, for "Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator") went haywire and overran his home island with enormous synthesized food items. But any feelings of shame over the debacle quickly vanish when Flint is offered a job with The Live Corp Company, a loose parody of Apple, Google, Facebook, or most any hip and/or trendy forward-thinking tech company. Live Corp is led by a trailblazing inventor named Chester V (Will Forte). Chester is Flint's idol, and his company is leading the effort to clean up Flint's island.
We soon learn, however, that the job is little more than a way to keep Flint in check while Chester and his goons try to locate the FLDSMDFR, which they believe is still operational on the island. Eventually Chester is forced to recruit Flint and his friends to find the machine for him, claiming that it is generating myriad dangerous mutant food beasts that will destroy the world if the machine isn't shut down. This quest becomes the driving force behind "Cloudy 2's" theme. The first time around, it was "don't give up on your dreams." But as Flint's passions cause friction with the rest of his team, the new message becomes, "don't let your dreams blind you to the people who really care about you."
The joy of the new film is found in the journey through a multicolored jungle island populated with mutant food beasts. Far from the sardine-infested shanty town of the first film, the island has been brought to life thanks to the efforts of Flint's still-operational machine, thriving with the hybrid likes of cheeseburger-spiders and taco-crocodiles (Tacodiles!).
The sequel returns the same clever sense of humor as the first edition, offering up a continual line of puns that hit the mark far more often than they miss. Zany characters from the first film come back to steal scenes with fishing metaphors (Flint's father) and background antics (Steve the Monkey). Scenes set in the Live Corp Company's invention processing line are especially fun, and audiences will love Flint's "Instant Party" invention.
Unfortunately, the weather will remain cloudy for fans of Mr. T's work in the first film as security guard Earl Devereaux. The ’80s icon passed on the chance to reprise his role, and was replaced by Terry Crews, better known as the guy in all those crazy Old Spice commercials (who still offers an excellent turn in the role). But most of the other cast members are back for more, including Anna Faris, Neil Patrick Harris, and James Caan.
Like most films nowadays (especially those of the animated family variety), "Cloudy 2" is available in the 3D format. But while the 3D presentation was impressive, there wasn't anything about it that suggested families wouldn't have an equally enjoyable time at the 2D discount. This might be a good opportunity to save a few bucks on the family outing.
"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" is rated PG for some mild scatalogical humor.
Joshua Terry is a freelance writer and photojournalist who appears weekly on the "KJZZ Movie Show" and also teaches English composition for Salt Lake Community College. You can see more of his work at www.woundedmosquito.com.