“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” was a cafeteria food fight compared to the sweet and subtle 1978 children's book that spawned it. Philip Lord and Chris Miller's adaptation of Judi Bennett's story took the title and the setting and proceeded to dump a lot of angry food on the high-tension neurotics living in their version of Swallow Falls. That 2009 movie was force-feeding laughter rather than coaxing it, but “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” is a much more satisfying meal.
This time out, young inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Tulsa native Bill Hader) wants to contribute to the cleanup of Swallow Falls — after all, it was his contraption that pounded the island village with cheeseburgers, pizza and ice cream storms. Flint wants to bring his ideas to Chester V (Will Forte), his childhood hero who inspired Flint's creative approach to science, but his Live Corp might not be thinking the right way about the abundance of food now populating Flint's old home.
Most of the old team is back for “Cloudy 2,” including Anna Faris as meteorologist Sam Sparks, James Caan as Flint's solid and stolid father, Andy Samberg as former sardine can model Baby Brent and Neil Patrick Harris as Steve the Monkey, and the returning cast is abetted by the invaluable Kristen Schaal as Barb, Chester V's talking orangutan. But the screenplay by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein (“Horrible Bosses”) can be credited for giving “Cloudy 2” more clarity than its predecessor, building in more interesting predicaments and even ethical questions when the other was mostly gunning sloppy food and sentiment at the screen with a slight message about good nutrition.
Perhaps it helps that some of the “frankenfood” that took over the island has faces now — this time, it's not just a mess to clean up. “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” will please the kids, but thanks to a smarter story and less bombast, adults will be able to swallow it a lot easier this time around.
— George Lang