(Sony Pictures)
Cue the John Williams!
(Sony Pictures)

Packed with more food puns than even its saturated trailer suggested, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 joins Pain and Gain, The Call, The Purge, The Internship, Planes, and We’re The Millers as one the year’s most pleasant surprises.  Goofy and delightful throughout, it’s reminiscent of another animated sequel from this year, Despicable Me 2, and nearly on that level.  If your kids liked one, they’ll almost certainly like the other.  Similarly, parents who can recognize a fun time for the whole family may take comfort in another winner and counteract whatever ill effects may still be lingering from the whole Turbo debacle.

 (Sony Pictures)
The dreaded Jemima Creek!
(Sony Pictures)

Round Two with the folks from Swallow Falls finds inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), his meteorologist pal Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), and the rest of the gang adjusting to life on the mainland.  As if he wasn’t hyperactive enough already, Flint goes officially bonkers when he’s hired at his dream company Live Corp., a not so subtle stand-in for Apple.  Head honcho Chester (Will Forte) is a dead ringer for Steve Jobs, down to the contemplative way he holds his hands, and his frequent claims of Live Corp. being the coolest company on the planet are all too familiar.  What the filmmakers then do with this recognition is at the core of its eyebrow-raising and, at its best, vaults the material into borderline Pixar territory.

 (Sony Pictures)
The watermelaphant in its natural habitat!
(Sony Pictures)

Ostracized early on after making a public embarrassment, lovable Flint is an easy target for Chester’s nefarious plans.  Revealing that Flint’s water-to-food device (a.k.a. The “FLDSMDFR”) is still active and churning out food-animal hybrids that could threaten the world, Chester convinces our enthusiastic hero to stop the critters before they learn how to swim.  Along with “talking” monkey sidekick Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), Sam, his eyebrow-endowed father Tim (James Caan), chicken-suited Brent (Andy Samberg), former cop Earl (Terry Crews, filling in for Mr. T), and short cameraman Many (Benjamin Bratt), he returns home with a bevy of nifty Jurassic Park references in tow.  Balancing out the filmmakers loathing of Apple, their love for Spielberg’s film comes through in the characters’ wide-eyed arrival at Swallow Falls, witnessing masses of foodimals for the first time, and even the water ripples that not just a tyrannosaurus can cause.

(Sony Pictures)
Ferocious!
(Sony Pictures)

Back on the island, the fun of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 really begins.  The screenwriting team of Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley (their humor connecting way more than in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) and Erica Rivinoja steadily dole out inventive names that the animators are keen to concoct.  Beings such as watermelaphants, mosquitoast, hippotatopotami, and a tacodile are stellar creature designs, and once Tim starts hanging out with a zany gang of pickles, the silliness is almost too much to handle.  Add to that a talking strawberry that sounds like the South Park kids and the film’s goofy goals are clear.  Go with it and an enjoyable time awaits.

Grade: B

Rated PG for mild rude humor.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gwj1YlYYspw]

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