All that Flint Lockwood dreamed of was becoming a great inventor. All he ever wanted was to help people, to help make the world a better place.

He did that in 2009's surprise animated hit "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," a sweet, zany gem and a genuinely funny movie for kids and adults alike in which his new invention made breakfast, lunch and dinner fall from the sky in danger-sized proportions.

You can have too much of a good thing, however, and that required Flint and his new friends to save the day in a movie that was seemingly made expressly for 3-D when you consider people dodging menu items including pancakes the size of Buicks.

With its distinctive animation and depth of focus among 3-D elements on the canvas, that picture remains one of the top animated 3-D movies, and its successor is another visual splendor.

The original film became yet another hit for Tulsa actor Bill Hader, who voices Flint, and it inspired a sequel opening Friday in which Flint must again be heroic with the help of his monkey sidekick ("Steve!") and extended friends and family.

He must also try to remember who his real friends are when his boyhood idol - Chester V, a TV "science guy" known for his food bars and closely resembling Steve Jobs as an evil scientist - attempts to cloud Flint's judgment about his pals and steal his food-making machine for his own gains.

This is hardly the most original storyline for a sequel, including all of the requisite bad-guy-hoodwinking-our-hero plot points you might imagine. But all you need to know is that Will Forte delivers this stock character's lines with great evil gusto, and that former "Saturday Night Live" castmates Hader and Forte bounce off one another hilariously.

The remainder of the story is slight and kooky: Flint's add-water, food-comes-out machine was not destroyed as we had believed, and it's now creating an island ecosystem, driving his hometown's population out and creating "living food" creatures.

"Revenge of the Leftovers," anyone?

The point of the movie is to deliver a goofy adventure, and when you have shrimpanzees, flamangos and watermelonphants - you have to see them to believe them - you have a buffet of pun-filled options to choose from for Flint and his pals to run from and/or befriend.

The puns fly as fast as the action, and when a character says, "Piece of cake" or "Easy as pie," you know to expect a dessert the size of a house to be served up as the characters make their way through a jungle full of humorous nods to "Avatar," "Jurassic Park" and "Lost."

While the kids are engaged from the start, adults can enjoy the comedic banter, as the directors of the original "Cloudy" (who made last year's funniest film, "21 Jump Street") return as producers with the "Horrible Bosses" writers in tow.

Flint and his friends - and this movie is about how well you treat your friends - are a true ensemble, each with their own funny lines to deliver.

These include Flint's brave meteorologist sort-of girlfriend (Anna Faris); his moustache-unibrow dad (James Caan); the gruff, by-the-book town cop (Terry Crews steps in beautifully for Mr. T from the original); and the hilarious Steve ("Steve!") the talking monkey, voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, who's having too much fun as usual.

"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" is a fun romp rooted in the idea that "goofy is good," especially when it's a tasty treat done with a knowing wink and a smile.


That sounds like Bill Hader

Ever since Tulsa native Bill Hader voiced Flint Lockwood in 2009, he has become one of Hollywood's most in-demand voice talents for animated and live-action works, as well as for film and TV.

You can hear Hader's distinctive voice and his other vocal options, including accents and other inflections, in the following works. Two coming in 2015 will be his first key roles in Pixar animated films.

Movie Character Year
"Inside Out" Fear 2015
"The Good Dinosaur" Forrest 2015
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" Flint Lockwood 2013
"Turbo" Guy Gagne 2013
"Star Trek Into Darkness" Marcus ship announcer 2013
"Monsters University" Referee and Slug 2013
"Bob's Burgers" Mickey 2012
"Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil" Hansel 2011
"South Park" Farmer 2011
"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" The Voice 2010
"Ice Age: Dawn Gazelle 2009 of the Dinosaurs"
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" Flint Lockwood 2009

'CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2'

Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Terry Crews 

Theaters: (3-D) Cinemark Tulsa, AMC Southroads 20, Cinemark Broken Arrow, Starworld 20, RiverWalk, Sand Springs; (2-D) Eton Square, Admiral Twin Drive-in 

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes 

Rated: PG (mild rude humor) 

Quality: 3 Stars (on a scale of zero to four stars)


Michael Smith 918-581-8479