A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is the sequel to 2009's hit animated adventure Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which itself was loosely based on Judi Barrett's classic children's book. Audiences can expect a similar level of insult language peppered throughout ("idiot," "loser," etc.), as well as some menacing food-animal hybrids, some of which are predatory carnivores. Main characters seem in danger for their lives at one point, and one character does fall to their presumed death. A technology firm (which bears a resemblance to Apple) with a visionary CEO isn't all that it seems, and there's a sweet romantic relationship (holding hands and one brief kiss) between two central characters. The movie explores themes like greed, discrimination, and the meaning of true friendship.
What's the story?
In the immediate aftermath of the dangerous food catastrophe at Swallow Falls, the technology firm Live Corp. -- led by orange-vested CEO Chester V (voiced by Will Forte) -- swoops in to clean up the mess. First Chester tells everyone that they must evacuate the island and offers young inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) a job at his renowned company in "San Franjose," where Flint discovers what it means to be an overcaffeinated 9-to-5 inventor in a Live Corp. cubicle. Then Chester V reveals that Swallow Falls has been taken over by wild food-animal hybrids and sends Flint to retrieve his invention from the island. But instead of going alone, as directed, Flint reluctantly brings along his fisherman father, Tim (James Caan); weather reporter girlfriend, Sam (Anna Faris); her cameraman, Manny (Benjamin Bratt); security guard Earl (Terry Crews); chicken-loving Brent (Andy Samberg); and, of course, pet monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris).
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Hollywood's love of sequels. Do you think Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 lives up to the original? Would you want to see a third movie about Flint, Sam, and the gang?
How does the movie portray technology? Does Chester V remind you of any real-life person? How does technology change Swallow Falls?
What is the movie's message about first impressions? Why does it take so long for Flint to see the truth about those around him?
- In theaters: September 27, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: January 28, 2014
- Cast: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris
- Directors: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.