Craig The amount of food we put away every day might make some feel guilty if they saw their pork chops or chicken nuggets up and moving around before they made their way to the dinner table. In the case of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” it’s a lot harder than ever to look your meals squarely in the eye.
If you go
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” rated PG
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring the voices of: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte and James Caan.
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.
With the island town of Swallow Falls still recovering from the haute cuisine horrors of the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator, it’s time for the inventor of the same name (voice of Bill Hader) and his friends to try and get the community back to normal. Luckily, a conglomerate named Live Corp. is handling the cleanup thanks to the munificence of super scientist Chester V (Will Forte), who also happens to be Flint’s idol.
With the townspeople temporarily relocated during the disaster relief, Flint tries his darnedest to prove himself to the staff of Live Corp. only to wonder if he really has what it takes to make it in the science world. His chance comes when he is recruited to return to Swallow Falls to use his knowledge of the area and figure out why there has been such a delay in the process.
Bringing with him a crack team that includes Flint’s meteorologist girlfriend Sam (Anna Faris), his lab monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) and his fisherman father Tim (James Caan), the venture back home is met with the discovery that since they’ve left, the island has been overtaken by the newly created food items that have minds of their own, some of which aren’t willing to leave their newfound habitat.
Hader returns as the frenetic voice of the enthusiastic young man with Einstein-inspired hair and a knack for creating things that usually fail spectacularly thanks to designs that are about 95 percent ingenuity, 4 percent style and 1 percent common sense.
And, yes, there is a 1 percent margin of error.
Despite the lack of necessity for most of his ideas — something called “Party in a Box” might sound fun, but an explosion of glitter and cake is really no good to anyone — Flint’s desire to help the world make him just as high caliber an inventor as Thomas Edison, or in this reality, the positively unreal Chester V, whose build and orange vest make him look like a carrot with a goatee, an effect enhanced by Forte’s nasal yet Zen tone.
Faris is in just as good form as Flint’s sweetheart, as are Harris as single-minded simian Steve and Caan as Flint’s traditional dad, who finally has someone to bond with when he meets a tribe of sentient pickles that love sardines as much as he does.
You know what they say: give a pickle a fish, it’ll eat for a day, teach a pickle to fish, it’ll eat forever.
If that sounds odd to you, you’re in for much more with a world of “foodimals” having taken over this hideaway in the middle of the ocean. As many food jokes and puns as there were in the first “Cloudy,” that count has grown exponentially, with peanut-butter-and-jellyfish, shrimpanzees, bananostriches, mosquitoast and other new species frequenting what was once Swallow Falls.
Of course, then there’s also the lack of imagination in naming an ambulatory strawberry Barry, but they can’t all be winners.
With a few nods to flicks like “Aliens” and “Jurassic Park” as well as some lines that could only apply to the niche sense of humor the creative team has carved for themselves — “There’s a leek in the boat!” and “Tacodile … supreme!” — this sequel keeps the good-natured hijinks of its predecessor without getting stale. Once again, it’s all about visual flash over true substance, and the father-son angle is downplayed more than it should be, but if it’s done right, there’s no sense not digging in to at least give it a taste.
This second helping of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is pretty much the same dish reheated, but if you liked it the first time, you probably won’t suffer indigestion. Still, let’s hope Sony Pictures Animation doesn’t let its eyes get bigger than our stomachs because thirds would really be pushing it.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.