Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 [2013]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChiTrib (3 Stars) (2.5 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review (M. Phillips) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 [2013] (directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, characters by Judi and Ron Barrett, story by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Erica Rivinova, screenplay by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein and Erica Rivinoya) continues and arguably deepens the amiable story begun in the 2009 first cinematic installment of this franchise even as it also arguably muddles its message.

At the end of the first film, the nerdy and starry-eyed wannabe child-inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) growing-up on a remote island somewhere in the Atlantic and the son of a humble sardine fisherman (voiced by James Caan) had succeeded in taming his "Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator" (FLDSMDFR for short ;-).  Flint had designed the contraption to convert simple water into all kinds of kid-friendly/exciting food (in contrast to the sardines that everyone in the town had been accustomed to eating).  However, his machine had gone amuck in that first episode, having been carried into the clouds in a balloon.  The FLDSMDFR then produced such meteorological horrors as spaghetti tornadoes and torrents of cheeseburger and jelly bean rain ;-).   Being able to first find and then "bring down to earth" his contraption, Flint was able to save his island and quite possibly the world from a fearsome if perhaps surprisingly tasty Apocalypse ;-). 

This second installment in the story began with Flint and his friends being visited upon by Flint's Steve Jobs-like idol named Chester V (voiced by Will Forte) the CEO of the most awesome, innovative company on the planet called LIVE, Corp.  

Chester first arrives with "bad news."  He tells Flint as well as the other residents of the island that his company has been contracted by the government to do the "clean-up" of the island, which had been ravaged by the food storms caused by Flint's FLDSMDFR, and in order that his company be able to do so, all the residents will have to be evacuated off the island.  But neither Flint, nor his father and friends -- including Flint's new found girl-friend, the spunky "weather-channel intern" Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris) and her utterly unflappable/no-nonsense "has seen it all" camera man Manny (voiced by Benjamin Bratt), friend of the family/hometown tough guy cop Earl Deveraux (voiced this time by Terry Crews) and local jock/looker and former bully (who used to pick on Flint but now has made-up with him) Brent McHale (voiced by Andy Samberg) -- want to leave.  But Chester insists that they do.  (Hmmm, why would he want them to do that?  What was he up to?)  Finally, to "sweeten the deal," Chester offers Flint an internship at LIVE, Corp's phenomenal (dare one say fabulous ;-) Apple/Google-like HQ in San FranJose and offers to pay for Flints friends to go there as well.  Obviously, Chester's up-to-something ...

Well, Flint is excited as pie to go to LIVE, Corp's HQ to work in one of its sea of cubicles an inventoraror intern and the rest are promised by Chester that they could "come along" to "help" Flint. 

Now each year, at a gigantic stadium-sized company meeting Chester would pick just one of the sea of interns as the inventorator of the year (and reward that exactly one person with an actual paying job ... ;-).  Flint, who's invented a new device that he calls "party in a box" humiliates himself at said gigantic stadium-sized company meeting when he prematurely sets the "party in a box" off to celebrate his "victory" ... when indeed, he hadn't been picked.  Sigh ...

No matter.  Chester has another job for him.  He now wants him and his friends to go back to their island and to find Flint's FLDSMDFR, which it becomes increasingly clear had been Chester's true interest in coming to the island to "clean it up" to begin with.

When the gang returns to the island, they find it marvelously changed.  It's still covered by food (Chester's LIVE, Corp didn't seem to do a lot of "clean-up"), but the food's become "alive" ;-).  Obvious homages to Jurassic Park [1993], the original Despicable Me [2010] and even to Veggie Tales [1993-] follow as the island is portrayed as being covered by Cheesespiders (giant cheeseburgers walking on french-fry legs, catching prey in cheese spray), Shrimpanzees, ferocious Tacodyles protecting their newly hatched "baby tacos," and perhaps most amusingly, sardine-loving pickle-men, who Flint's dad soon happily takes fishing.  

And at the center of it all is Flint's old FLDSMDFR that's brought all these happy and whimsical (and presumably edible) creatures alive.

At the end of the film, Flint has to decide whether to hand over the FLDSMDFR that has created all this unexpected and utterly marvelous life to his idol/mentor Chester V, founder of LIVE, Corp (what does LIVE, Corp spell backwards? ;-) or just let all these whimsical foodimals with their robotic Creator live?   And what about Flint's friends?  He has to choose between Chester and them as well.

It all makes for a remarkable and ... rather mouth-watering parable ;-).  And it may help youngsters treat their food (and the animals from which their food came from) with greater respect.

Except for some occasional (and thankfully rare) "potty humor," and a suprisingly/oddly anti-Silicon Valley message (produced/financed by the gigantic Japanese tech behemoth Sony ... ;-) ... which seems amusingly self-serving/contradictory ;-) I found this to be very enjoyable kid/family friendly film.  So generally good job folks!  Generally good job! ;-)

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