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Arriving back at Swallow Falls in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

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★★★★✩

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn

Starring Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Will Forte

Rated PG

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I walked into this movie determined that I would not laugh harder than the eager, soda-sipping, snot-flinging kids that surrounded me. I walked in with my head high and my ego puffed, confident that I would not shed a tear at the emotions on screen until little Timmy and his barely coherent sister next to me were bawling with sentimentality. I walked in, steadfastly thinking that this was a silly animated flick that had no power over me.

But Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 defies all expectations. It does not allow for any solemnity or stone-heartedness. From the first dazzling shot of seamless animation (reminiscent of a cute-ified Avatar) to the final triumphant montage of the relatable nerd-turned-hero Flint Lockwood, the movie is a quick-moving sequence of fun, cheesiness, and heartwarming messages.

Those who are fond of the first installation in the series will appreciate this movie’s similar use of amazing visual effects, easy and almost nonstop food-related puns (“There’s a leek in the boat!”, “Uh-oh, we’re TOAST”, and “This is bananas!” among the highlights), and dedication to heartwarming themes, including friendship, love, and the magic of discovery.

Whereas the first movie stretched the boundaries of imagination through bigger and bigger food items, the sequel completely redefines imagination with the creation of “foodimals”. These foodimals are living, breathing, empathetic, and delicious creatures brought into being by a malfunctioning FLDSMDFR (Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator — a name almost as catchy as LBDSMDFR, coincidentally my next UROP project). Each foodimal looks like a cuter, tastier version of the actual animal, and characters like Barry the strawberry can leave the audience abashedly wiping away tears with a single, unintelligible “wooooooo.”

The plot will especially resonate with MIT students, as Flint Lockwood desperately tries to choose between a stable life of pure research surrounded by his friends and family, and the exciting, wildly innovative life of industry at the slightly nefarious Live Corp. The makers of the movie must know exactly how it feels to be enticed into an internship or job with the promise of fancy technology and endless free food. At Live Corp., Flint Lockwood is showered with gadgets and obscurely delicious drinks such as “Quinoa Iced Lattes.” We know how hard it is to pull away from those massage chairs and that all-access gym membership, Flint, we know.

Lockwood’s friends are the same bunch of annoyingly entertaining-to-watch static characters that rely on one or two key quirks that never develop. Sam Sparks, his girlfriend, is the pretty and naïve meteorologist with a moral compass that is never misaligned. Flint’s dad cares only about his son and fishing (and, in an ideal world, fishing with his son). Baby Brent is the goofy, happy-go-lucky ex-bully whose catchphrase, “Uh-oh!”, will make you laugh at least once (if only because of the sheer number of times it is used). And Flint’s monkey lab assistant, Steve, usually saves the day in some unbelievably wacky way.

We do not witness these characters growing or developing, but it doesn’t really matter. These characters will not expostulate any universal truths about the human condition, but they keep the movie quick, witty, exciting, and endlessly fun.

If you’re looking to have about an hour and a half of fun as a break from psets, go to this movie. If you’re looking to increase the number of puns in your repertoire, go to this movie. If you’re looking to start a diet, don’t go to this movie, because everything looks delicious.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is not required to do more than entertain, and this hilarious film meets and exceeds this obligation by far.