Since the original made it clear that this cinematic story was only very loosely based on the beloved children's book, it was easy to step into the story again without preconceived expectations. To keep the food machine (that is, the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator, or "FLDSMDFR") plot going, the writers devised a conceit in which the FLDSMDFR is able to create "living" food that looks and acts like a host of different real (and extinct!) animal-food hybrids. Some of the frightening predators -- like the cheespider, the taco-diles, and the apple pie-thons -- will momentarily scare younger viewers, whereas others -- like Barry the strawberry, the fruit cockatiel, and the mini marshmallows -- are sweet and huggable.
In addition to "foodimals," the story introduces viewers to new characters who might seem friendly to kids, but adults will recognize them as evil right away -- like Chester V (voiced in a perfectly creepy falsetto by Saturday Night Live alum Forte), a Steve Jobs-like visionary with a thing for facial hair, turtlenecks, and grand pronouncements. His interest in the naive and insecure Flint makes for an interesting conflict, and his talking-ape assistant, Barb (Kristen Schaal), is the kind of confused character who just wants to be considered a friend. The focus on the Live Corp. characters leaves less for Flint's friends to do, but they manage to add enough comic relief for fans of the first movie. As for the squishy Barry, the marshmallow family, and Mr. Lockwood's new fishing pals (the hilarious pickles with a love of sardines) -- they're like Despicable Me's Minions -- funny bundles of adorable.