Pixar might have a monopoly on the emotional depth and resonance that refuse to elude its high-class productions, but Sony Pictures Animation certainly knows how to make an entertaining animated feature. Instead of the weighty pathos that frequents the aforementioned company’s projects, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” utilizes a nonstop, universally appealing sense of humor and endlessly imaginative visuals. Children and adults alike will revel in the comic wonderment of “foodimal” hybrids that fuse popular fruits and vegetables with energetic critters.
After saving his island hometown of Swallow Falls from his victual-generating invention gone awry, lab-coated Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) settles down with his friends to clean up the leftovers and build a new laboratory with romantic interest and meteorologist Sam Sparks (Anna Faris). He’s assisted by his bushy-eyebrowed father Tim (James Caan), chicken-suited mascot Brent (Andy Samberg), police officer Earl (Terry Crews) and his son Cal (Khamani Griffin), Sam’s cameraman Manny (Benjamin Bratt), and his pet monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris). Just as they begin the reconstruction, legendary inventor Chester V (Will Forte) lands in his helicopter to recruit Flint to his massive LiveCorp research facility in San Franjose, California, where he secretly plots to use the youngster and his invention for nefarious purposes (none-too-subtly dubbed “Operation Capture the Invention”).
There’s an undeniable pleasantness surrounding everything in the film – even in regards to the villains. “Saturday Night Live” veteran Will Forte takes the reigns as a double-crossing, hip, evil-scientist megalomaniac guru, wielding an army of doppelganger holograms and sentinels in formidable armored robotic suits. His sidekick is an ape with communication skills named Barb, voiced by the instantly recognizable Kristen Schaal (known recently for providing voices on “Gravity Falls,” “Adventure Time,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Archer,” and “Despicable Me 2”). Just as the evildoers exude a goofy hilarity, even while executing criminal schemes, the rest of the film revels in infinitesimal details that amplify the joviality. Occasionally, the deeper notions of bullying, choosing role models, studying the living food instead of destroying it, and valuing friendships enter the picture, but they are quickly brushed under the carpet for more appealing animated absurdities and endangerment.
Shrimpanzees, watermelophants, peanut butter and jellyfish, tacodiles, and bananostriches are but a few of the delightfully creative creature designs that run amok in Swallow Falls. Everything is just so ridiculously cute. The dialogue is also spectacular, using rapid-fire conversations and nonstop jokes to aid in visual merriments that include ravingly flamboyant gesticulations and a fabulous food fight finale. The character designs, unbridled movements, extreme facial expressions, and food monster adventures are consistently amusing, recreating a Jurassic Park of sorts, overrun by colossal, primordial, edible behemoths and wide-eyed, cuddly, dainty produce with faces.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)