October 07, 2013
Family Film Blogging: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
Posted by Christine Hurt

Better than Planes. . . .

OK, that's not much of a review, but it says it all.  Last Friday, the boys (11 and 6) and I raced from school to make the 4:35 (read:  cheap matinee) of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Though the younger one wailed for 3D, I did not give in.  That may not have been a great idea because the best part of the movie is the artistry.

The plot is a little forced, and the writers oh-so-cleverly get around this.  At the end of the first movie, nutty but loveable inventor Flint Lockwood, with the help of his costars, I mean friends, destroyed his water-into-food invention, which had malfunctioned to produce giant food that falls violently from the sky. The second movie picks up moments later when before unmentioned childhood science hero of Flint, Chester V, appears offering to clean up the giant food-strewn island and temporarily relocate its inhabitants, including Flint, his dad, his friend/girlfriend Sam, bully-turned-friend and police bully-turned-friend.   Six months later, we find that the invention has not only still been working, but it reprogrammed itself to produce living food-animals out of water, which have populated the island.  How?  Who knows?  This worry is whisked away as Flint admits to Sam that he has no idea how the machine reprogrammed itself, so they shouldn't waste time pondering it.  And so, disbelief is suspended.

So, there's the set up, so what's the plot?  The plot is that Chester V, who wears a sporty orange vest, offers Flint a job at Live Corp (hmm, evil spelled backwards), which seems eerily like Google, replete with soy lattes, caffeine patches and volleyball courts.  Flint's dream is to be a "thinkquanot" (I have no idea how to spell this and can't find it online), which seems to be an "imagineer"-type appellation given to the best inventors at Live Corp.  When he fails in his first attempt, Chester V, who has a secret plan, asks him to go back to the island and help him to shut off the machine.  A desperate Flint jumps at the second chance at thinkquanot greatness, grabs his posse and heads back to Swallow Falls island.  The band encounters the foodimals, who Chester V tells them are ferocious and dangerous, but which of course are not.

Even with the waving away of the machine's reprogramming itself, several plot holes still remain:  if Chester V knows the animals aren't ferocious and can easily capture them for his secret plan, then why does he need an "expendable" party to go find the machine?  And if Flint finds the machine easily in basically the volcano in the middle of the island, why couldn't smarty-pants Chester V figure that out?  Well, because the movie is about the friends trekking across the colorful island finding all the amazing evolutionary innovations the foodimal machine made -- the tacodile, the cheesespider, the hippo-potato-mus, etc.  The foodimal jungle is pretty extraordinary, and makes up for a pretty thin plot.

Overall, the 11 year-old thought it was better than Planes, and the 6 year-old, who liked Planes, thought it was great.  He's not much of a plot critic.  But he's also holding out for Frozen and Free Birds.

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