News Column

'Cloudy' with a chance of boredom

September 25, 2013


The original "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" was a sweet treat of an adaptation of the 1982 book by Judi and Ron Barrett. From the visual smorgasbord _ especially Lockwood's secret laboratory where such electronic gimmicks of the 1980s "Simon" game and an Atari joystick create the "Tron" look _ to the food jokes, the movie worked for all ages.

The sequel, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2," comes across like eating leftovers. There's still some pleasure out of the reheated dish, but it lacks the appeal of the original.

"Meatballs" picks up on the island where all of the culinary madness started. Food items are evolving into living creatures such as Shrimpanzes and Flamangos. The fear is the creatures will learn to swim and become a threat to the mainland.

Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), the wide-eyed inventor behind the original food fight, is recruited by mega-billionaire inventor Chester V (Will Forte) _ head of The Live Corp Company _ to find the source of the food transformations. With the aid of his friends and family, Lockwood sets off on a "Jurassic Park" style adventure.

The script _ by five different writers _ bounces between trying to recreate "Jurassic Park" scenes using fruits, vegetables and meats to food-inspired puns. If something thinks a task is easy and says, "It's a piece of cake," then a piece of cake is in the scene. Variety among gourmet gags are so limited, one pun about there being a "leek in the boat" gets repeated.

When a writer lives by the pun, they die by the pun. The jokes become as stale as week-old bread, plus there's no way a young audience is going to pick up on 99 percent of the jokes. The only pun that seems to resonate through all demographics is a line about having to "cut the cheese."

The film also pokes fun at corporate America. Those scenes are too mature for youngsters and wear thin quickly for adults. There are also bits about a father-son relationship, unrequited love and caring for the ecology tossed in. Instead of making the film more savory, they just end up being distractions.

Directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn give the film the frantic pace and bright colors needed to keep the attention of kids. Adults who are looking for more will be left cold, especially with the lackluster 3-D effects.

There are no major problems with "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2." There's also nothing very original or entertaining about this sequel. It's the kind of so-so cinema that will entertain those who aren't too demanding.



Grade: C-plus

Rated PG for crude humor. Stars voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Terry Crews, Neil Patrick Harris. Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.


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