Title: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
HTS Overall Score:90
That wacky inventor, Flint Lockwood (voice: Bill Hader), is back in Sony Pictures' second release based on Judi Barrett’s 1970s classic children’s book: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. While staying true to the theme (a meteorological disaster of deliciously tempting oversized food), Sony Pictures has put its own spin on the tale to create what has become a ridiculously fun franchise. For those of you that grew up in the 70s and 80s, you may remember that Barrett’s fictional town (Chewandswallow) received its daily meals from the sky. The real fun, however, began when a storm brewed and the sky started dumping huge portions of food causing total culinary chaos. Keeping with the food theme, Sony developed a unique cast of enjoyably silly characters that live on small island called Swallow Falls. In the first installment, a young outcast inventor named Flint created a food making machine called the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (aka, the FLDSMDFR), which ended-up raining down food from the sky. The town’s folk were overjoyed until the machine went rogue and began to destroy the island with huge chunks of food; Flint saved the day by destroying the machine and restoring order.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 returns the original cast of characters along with a few new additions, including Flint’s hero inventor Chester V (Will Forte) and his brainy chimp named Barb (Kristin Schaal). Swallow Falls is still a food filled disaster zone and Chester V benignly arrives on the scene to direct the cleanup. Flint is floored when Chester offers him a position at his science and invention company called Live Corps. Flint accepts the offer and is soon stuck in a cubical trying to create an invention that will capture Chester V’s attention. He fails, however, and Chester V recognizes another employee as inventor of the year. Dejected, Flint thinks he’s a failure but little does he realize that the slyly villainous Chester V has other plans for him.
Back on Swallow Falls, the Food Replicator has come back to life and is now creating living creatures called Foodimals. The island is crawling with giant French Fry legged Cheeseburger spiders, potato hippos, banana herons, green onion dinosaurs, and crocodiles that look like tacos. The cleanup crews are stymied by these creatures and Chester V asks Flint to return to Swallow Falls to take the Food Replicator off-line. Jumping at a second chance to win the approval of Chester V, Flint recruits the help of his father (James Caan), girlfriend Sam (Anna Faris), his talking monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), Officer Earl (Terry Crews), Manny the cameraman (Benjamin Bratt), and former baby model Brent (Andy Samburg). The crew sets off to the island without knowledge of the Foodimals. After their initial introduction to the delectable creatures they begin to expect the worst, but what they find is something much different, leading to some very difficult decisions and an epic showdown with an unsuspected foe.
Like most sequels, this second installment feels less original than the first. The movie returns for similar laughs tied to many of the characters such as Steve the monkey’s singular quips and Officer Earl's enthusiastic love of protecting others. The plot is also rather thin and basic, but there are enough sideshows that most younger viewers will find themselves distractedly entertained. Deeper thematic elements, such as moral messages, are present and include the values of friendship, respect for the greater good over selfishness, and the value of life.
On the plus side, the film is fully loaded with a fun factor that is sure to delight younger audiences. It’s land of extraordinarily energetic characters, not to mention imaginative creatures and scenarios that lead to good lighthearted fun – nothing to be taken too seriously, nor should it be. The film's presentation is vivacious, exploding with intense colors and tons of excitement, punctuated by crisp graphics and an attention grabbing environment. It’s the kind of film that lives and dies by on the screen action and humor rather than deeply woven plots. With that in mind, it’s hard not to recommend that Cloud with a Chance for Meatballs 2 be served for this weekend’s family home entertainment.
PG for mild rude humor.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news/cmb4.jpg[/img]The hallmark of this film’s extraordinary visual feast for the eyes is color. Lots of color. Snappy, bold, colors such as lime greens, luscious oranges, deliciously thick reds, and bright popping yellows, all coexisting to create a delightful palate that jumps from the screen like a jumbo packet of Skittles exploding in the air. Swirls of colors literally pulsate in nearly every scene; it’s a site to behold. The colors are paired with inky blacks and excellent contrast, allowing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 to match Turbo as one of the most dynamically beautiful films – visually – I’ve reviewed in the last year. Fine details and textures are vastly abundant and exacting to extraordinary levels. Interestingly, human skin surfaces are relatively smooth and primarily detailed by color variations, not textures (which adds a unique flair to the appearance of the characters). The overall image is sharp with crisp lines and nary a hint of blocking, jaggedies, or artifacts, which is to say that Sony Pictures' hi-def AVC transfer of the film is topnotch.
We’ve become spoiled over the last decade by computer animated films that are breathtakingly beautiful to watch, and Cloudy with a Chance for Meatballs 2 is no exception.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news//cmb5.jpg[/img]Luckily for us, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a tag team cage match featuring amazing visuals paired with stellar audio. The film’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA precision audio is a dead-on bullseye leading to heightened levels of auditory bliss, featuring excellent directionality, sound pans, and rear channel activity. There are moments where helicopters whiz overhead, creatures sweep across the sound stage, and beeping and popping sounds dance around the room. Equal to the task is the film’s original score (Mark Mothersbaugh) which is hard hitting, tight, and crisp. Ambient sounds are given the royal treatment, making nearly every environment spring to life. This is especially true of scenes on Swallow Falls where jungle and insect sounds seem to invade from all the channels. Character voices are smooth and throaty with excellent dispersion across the sound stage. Low Frequency Effects are also used, resulting in moments of extremely deep bass that will surely challenge subs in most home theater environments.
• Audio Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Production Design: Back in the Kitchen
• Cloudy Cafe: Who's on the Menu?
• Anatomy of a Foodimal
• Awesome End Credits
• Music Video
• Making of the La Da Dee Music Video
• Building the Foodimals
• Delicious Production Design
• The Mysterious Sasquash
Sony Pictures has done well with the Cloudy franchise. Both films have proven to be fun little romps through an imaginary world that most kids (not to meaning to ignore adults) will gladly enter. Part two is a veritable explosion of color and art, creating a visual display that is overwhelmingly mesmerizing. Those of you with dialed in projectors and displays will revel in the films wide ranging and densely packed colors, not to mention an overall picture quality that is top-of-the-line reference material. More mature viewers might find the plot to be predictable, but the film’s innocent nature more than makes up for any short comings in that department. This is a film that will definitely have younger viewers asking for multiple viewings, so from that standpoint it’s easy to recommend it as a buy for families with kids. Otherwise, it’s a solid rental for fans of animated films and an easy recommendation as a quick pick for a night of weekend entertainment.
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte
Directed by: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Written by: Judi Barrett (characters), Ron Barrett (characters), John Francis Daley (screen play), Jonathan M. Goldstein (screenplay), Phil Lord (story), Christopher Miller (story), Erica Rivinoja (screenplay/story)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 95 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: January 28, 2014
Buy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 on Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It!