While I’m not going to call myself a fan of the original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), it was at the very least curious. Any movie that’s basically 90 minutes of phallic and sexual subtext directed at children isn’t without interest, even if it’s not very good. With the first film’s main creative team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street) having little involvement in this sequel, it’s no surprise that the strangeness has sloughed off. But that weirdness — as simple as it was — was pretty much the only thing that made Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs watchable. Meatballs 2 isn’t so much Exhibit A of diminished returns, but a dull sequel tapped of any wit or uniqueness. There’s little to separate it from every other animated franchise swamping theaters.
No. 2 picks up where the first film ended, with the hometown of inane inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) covered in various food stuffs thanks to a malfunctioning machine he built. Chester V (Will Forte) — a successful entrepreneur and obvious Steve Jobs proxy — soon shows up to recruit Flint, though his motives are obvious and transparently nefarious. With Flint’s hometown abandoned, his machine begins to malfunction even more, creating a food-based ecosystem, complete with such moveable feasts as a “tacodile supreme.”
This is about where Meatballs 2 peaks creatively, running through a grocery list of goofy puns wrapped inside a mediocre adventure premise, as Flint and friends are manipulated by Chester to traverse these wild victuals and complete his evil plan. Besides the incidental, existential moral to it all (how do you eat sentient food even if it’s already made of food?), there’s nothing separating this film from, say, any Ice Age sequel. The only reason it exists is the cynical belief that you can get kids to watch any old garbage. In this case, a $35 million opening weekend and a No. 1 spot at the box office means Meatballs 2 is a success according to its aims. That it lacks any sense of humor, imagination or whimsy means little when it comes to the bottom line, something that’s egregiously obvious in the finished product. Rated PG for mild, rude humor.
Playing at Regal Biltmore Grande