Here’s the best way to gauge your potential enjoyment of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.” Imagine a scene in a boat. Then imagine a panicked voice saying, “There’s a leak in the boat!”
Cut to… a leek, with eyes and a mouth, screaming, “No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!”
If that kind of grocery gag makes you giggle then this animated follow-up to the fanciful 2009 Anna Faris, Bill Hader hit may be for you.
Me, I laughed both times they used that joke in the movie.
The new film picks up where the last one left off. The Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator—FLDSMDFR for short—has left the planet covered in food. When scientific superstar and Thinkquanaut Chester V (Will Forte)—a bizarre mix of the Steves, Jobs and Hawking—offers to clean up the mess Flint Lockwood’s (Hader) machine made and give the inventor a job at the LIVE Corp—the “coolest and hippest company in the world”—it appears everything may work out for the best.
Before you can say, “Clean up in aisle nine,” however, things take a strange turn when Flint and friends—meteorologist Sam Sparks (Faris), policeman Earl (Terry Crews), Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) and Manny (Benjamin Bratt)—visit their former island home to find it overrun with food creatures. Foodimals like watermelophants, shrimpanzees, double bacon cheespiders, the Tacodile Supreme and Barry, the world’s cutest strawberry, have created their own ecosystem. Think of it as a delicious Island of Doctor Moreau, or a foodie’s “Jurassic Park.”
Flint’s job is to find the FLDSMDFR and destroy it before the cuisine creatures can leave the island and invade the rest of the planet. He and his friends are in for the food fight of their lives.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” is a surreal story with familiar themes about friendship and believing in yourself, but instead of conveying those messages through a talking giraffe or a sardonic dinosaur, it features a bizarre array of talking groceries.
The movie’s imagination, inventiveness and humor are its selling points. The creatures are fantastic, the food puns are delicious and the story moves along faster than a sous chef chopping parsley. There’s sight gags galore and there’s even jokes for foodie parents.
Barb (Kristen Schaal), an orangutan with a genius IQ explains that Chester V “put a human brain in my monkey brain—like a turducken.”
And like a turducken “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” offers up layers of fun for every member of the family.
Charm can over come many faults. A well-timed funny quip can get you out of a jam, and casting charming actors can save a predictable romantic comedy. The set up for Just Friends is pretty simple—a high school outcast made good returns home for the first time in a decade and rediscovers his high school crush. Of course there are complications—it wouldn’t be a romantic comedy without screwball obstacles that our hero must overcome—he’s no longer the small town sweetheart he was in school and he’s not alone. With him is his ex-girlfriend and prospective client Samantha James, a spoiled Hollywood brat part Ashlee Simpson at her angry-McDonalds-customer worst and part Paris Hilton.
The action progresses in a predictable manner but the movie really finds its spark in the performances of Canadian leading man Ryan Reynolds whose comedic timing and delivery really sells the jokes and Anna Faris as the spoiled sex symbol Sam. Faris does a magnified version of the air-headed pop star she played in Lost in Translation and steals every scene she’s in without taking away from the story.
I’m not going to suggest “What’s Your Number?” is a great, or even good movie. It has a typical rom com plot gussied up with some Judd Apatow style barbs and some gratuitous shots of its almost naked stars, but it also has Anna Faris, and for me that’s enough. She has crack comic timing and an unpredictable way with a line that takes a Kathryn Heigl level script and turns it into something watchable.
Faris is Ally, a young Bostonian with a bad relationship track record. Weeks before her sister is due to tie the knot she reads a magazine article which suggests the number of sexual partners a woman has had will determine her romantic success later in life. More than twenty, it says, and you have virtually no hope of ever settling down. She does the math and realizes she’s in the danger zone. To prevent going over twenty partners she revisits all her ex-boyfriends in hopes of finding a husband.
“What’s Your Number?” is a strange movie that mixes and mingles both the standard old cell phone switcheroo plot device AND edgy rape jokes. It doesn’t have the laughs of an Apatow movie or the heart… but once again, I’ll say it, it has Anna Faris.
Faris is working hard here, playing against a script that casts her as the most clichéd of all rom com characters, a desperate woman on the hunt for a man. She’s a harlot with a past but her male next door neighbor (Chris Evans), who has hundreds of notches on his bedpost, is a charmer who simply hasn’t found the right woman yet. Just another example of how wrong headed the sexual politics of rom coms are, even in 2011.
A love scene with a puppet and Andy Samberg is a highlight and one of the things—did I mention Anna Faris?—that make this movie almost special. There are just enough funny scenes (and shots of co-star Evans’s abs) to almost make this an in-the-pocket rom com, but then the good stuff is followed by long stretches of by-the-book writing. It’s a shame to see this kind of potential wasted.