One of the biggest, most pleasant surprises of 2009 was "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." Loosely based on the slim children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who at the time were best known for their cult TV series "Clone High"), and produced by the relatively unproven Sony Animation, it seemingly came out of nowhere and totally delighted just about everyone who saw it. Of course, an unexpected hit always leads to a more expected follow-up, so this fall we're getting "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," with a new trailer having just dropped online.
Almost everyone is back from the first movie (including Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt and Neil Patrick Harris), with the weirdly notable exception of Terry Crews subbing for Mr. T (what could Mr. T possibly be up to?) As the trailer explains, the food-generating machine from the original movie has been left on, turning the sleepy community of Swallow Falls into a lost world of sorts, where all kinds of food-animal creatures have been left to run wild. It's up to Flint (Hader) and his intrepid band of friends and family to traverse the island and shut down the machine, potentially killing all of the freakish food-animals in the process.
The new trailer shows off a lot of the crazy creatures – the taco-dile supreme, the shrimpanzee – and a lot of the food-related puns that undoubtedly litter the screenplay. But we were invited to a special presentation of footage from the film last week that gave us a little more insight into what "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" is all about. We were shown about 20 minutes of footage, all of it very exciting (even in rough form), and while Lord and Miller might not be back as writer/directors (they're finishing up "The LEGO Movie" and about to start in on "22 Jump Street"), they've stuck around in a supervisory producing capacity and it looks like their typical brand of manic comedy, mixed with their lovable, Muppet-y design aesthetic, remains intact.
One of the major portions of the movie that isn't featured in the trailer is everything involving a new character named Chester V (Will Forte), who serves as a kind of Steve Jobs-ian tech guru who runs an Apple-like corporation called Live Corp. This is where, at the start of the film, Flint goes off to work; it's also Chester V who tells Flint about the trouble in Swallow Valley, complete with some very troubling slides of what should happen if any of the food-animals were to get off the island. Chester V has a pet orangutan implanted has a human brain named Barb (Kristen Schaal), who makes for a perfect foil for Steve the Monkey (Harris) and at some point both Chester V and Barb become part of the expedition on Swallow Falls. Soon it becomes apparent that for all his New Age-y peace, love, and technology, Chester V might be up to something very naughty…
Of the rest of the footage, the stuff that made the most impression on us involved Flint's dad (Caan), who for some reason starts to mentor a tribe of pickle creatures. It's absolutely bizarre but totally hilarious. He teaches these pickles to go fishing and about the virtues of sardines. It's so weird but also charming and really funny. The other character they hint at in the trailer who appears to have a much larger role in the actual movie is Barry the Strawberry, who becomes their buddy and looks like a Kid Robot Yummy Breakfast keychain that used to dangle off our bag. Barry is sugary cute.
All in all, both the new trailer and the footage we were shown promises that "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" wasn't a fluke – that the franchise can continue to grow and expand, pushing out to even more unexpected (but equally hilarious) territory.