By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Flint, “Baby” Brent, Sam, Earl and the rest of food world gang return for seconds in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.”
The gastronomical animated action comedy picks up just moments after the 2009 original ended, with inventor Flint and friends having saved world from his infamous invention—a machine that turns water into food. The device worked a little too well—raining cheeseburgers and causing spaghetti tornadoes. Having resolved that crisis, Flint soon faces another one when he discovers that his invention is still operating, only this time it is turning food into animals (a.k.a. foodimals) back at bucolic Swallow Falls. Flint and his friends embark on a dangerous mission to battle hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees, hippotatomuses, cheespiders and other food-animal hybrids to save the world again.
Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Bill Hader returns as the voice of Flint, a well-meaning genius, who can’t seem to control his inventions. Joining him again are fellow “SNL” alum Andy Samberg, who reprises his “Baby” Brent character and comedienne Anna Faris as Flint’s weathercaster girlfriend Sam. They assemble at a press conference to talk up the animated sequel alongside with one-time NFL linebacker-turned actor Terry Crews, who takes over for Mr. T as the voice of nimble former police officer Earl Devereaux.
The family friendly animated comedy is inspired by “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” a children’s book written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett.
Q: How does making a movie like this allow you to flex your voice talent unlike live action acting?
Samberg: I get to scream a lot.
Hader: It’s funny. All you do is yell all your lines. All of my lines in this movie, I’m screaming, even when it’s a very nice intimate moment between me and Faris.
Faris: We’re really enthusiastic. For me, the first one was my first animated experience so you have to learn to work by yourself. You don’t get the feedback (from the other actors). But one of the challenges I love is making the effort noises, like how do you fall down a cave of peanut brittle?
Hader: Yeah, (directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn) would say, “You’re in a pancake bog.” And then you do your voice, and then they’d say, “No, we said pancake bog. That was clearly was Jell-o.”
Samberg: Bill has pancake bog blindness.
Crews: For me it was tough because I was taking over for the talented Mr. T. I looked at Cory and Chris and said, “Aw man, how do I do that?” and they said, “We want the best you. We want Terry Crews.” I thought that was very cool and that allowed me to get loose and just have fun and scream just like the rest the guys. It was a unique experience for me. I was honored. I felt I had enough juice to take that part over.
Samberg: (joking) It’s weird, because they asked me just to do Mr. T.
Q: Anna, did you crave any particular food while making this?
Faris: I’m always craving food, and the sessions were always exhausting. The whole “Cloudy” world is so much fun and everyone knows I’m a crazy fan for nachos. I’m always eating nachos.
Samberg: (to Faris) Yeah, that’s why we call you Nacho Faris. It’s like, “Hey, we need to take these pictures. Where’s Nacho?”
Faris: I think the whole theme of food is so much fun to work with. Obviously, the kids love it (and) we love it. It’s really fun and a big part of the movie.
Hader: (in a slow, smarmy voice) I sometimes crave bread. This is not a gluten-free movie.
Q: Did you have a favorite food animal?
Hader: I liked dog. (To Samberg) Haven’t you eaten dog?
Samberg: I’ve eaten with my dogs.
Faris: I’m disappointed we didn’t use a cornicorn, which is, of course, a unicorn made out of corn. But they only wanted “real” animals.
Q: Terry, did they film you while doing the voice?
Crews: It’s the genius of the creators. There’s a really cool stylized art to this (movie). Animation is where I got all of my entertainment from the past 10 years. I have five kids so I go to a lot of animated movies. To know the difference between what’s boring and what’s exciting on the screen while it’s being animated, these guys are masters. When I watched Ear move for the first time, I was like “holy cow!” To see his movements and doing those things, I wish I could do them in real life. The two-hand gun thing is too awesome. I tried to do the two-hand gun thing in “Expendables 3,” but I got shot. (He laughs.)
Q: Is this an anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) movie or a pro-GMO movie?
Samberg: It’s chaos theory—nature finds a way. I just thought of that. It popped into my head.
Hader: They’ll be quoting that years from now—the Samberg Theorem of Nature.
Q: Andy, you have a big year this year with your departure from “SNL,” and now this new comedy series, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” You also just wrapped a TV series called “Cuckoo” in England.
Samberg: (to his fellow cast mates) Sorry, guys, I’m going to take this.
Hader: (yawning) Let’s take a smoke break.
Samberg: I feel great. Terry’s on the show with me. Anna’s got a new show (CBS’ “Mom”) too. I had a great time doing the show in England. We may do more of them, depending. I’m nervous about the show, obviously, but (also) excited. It’s cool. It’s cool to still be seeing Bill after “SNL.” I’m happy. I’m getting married soon. Everything’s good.
Hader: (teasingly) He’s getting married to a girl!
Q: How do you think this sequel turned out?
Hader: It feels bigger (than the first one). When I saw it, the scope of it was so big from the first movie.
Q: If this franchise continues, what do you think the next one should be called?
Crews: “Cloudy in the ‘hood.”
Hader: (doing his Flint voice) “Uh, Sam, we may wanna get outta here!”
Q: Are you interested more in your kids’ reviews or the critics’ reviews?
Hader: I have two kids. The four-year-old loves the first movie but won’t accept that (Flint) is me. I’ll say to her, “That’s daddy!” and she kind of looks at me like, “No, it’s not. You’re crazy.” So I hope when she sees this one she realizes that Flint is her dad.
Crews: I’m nervous. I took my five kids and my grandkid to the first movie and we loved it. It was an event. It was one of the greatest days in my family life. (When I got cast in this) my son looked at me and said, “Don’t mess it up.” I think they’re going to like it.
Q: Bill, you’re doing other animated features, right?
Hader: (mock surprise) No! This is the only movie I’ve done. This is the only animated movie I will ever do. No, yeah, it’s pretty cool. I’m doing these two Pixar movies. One’s called “Inside Out,” and the other is called “The Good Dinosaur.” “Inside Out” is directed by Pete Docter and the same team that did “Up.” It’s pretty fantastic. I just saw the storyboards.
Q: What’s your impression of doing voice work for animation?
Hader: I’ve been doing it for a while. Everyone assumes it’s really easy but it’s the hardest job. When I leave a session for this or any other movie—I did “Turbo” where was the bad guy—my brain doesn’t work. It’s incredibly hard work, but it’s gratifying.
Q: Is there a reserve in your brain for childish humor that you tap into?
Hader: Have you not been paying attention?
Samberg: It’s a dream job. You can’t curse, though; that’s the only thing you can’t do.
Hader: I grew up watching animated movies and thought how cool it would be to be a part of those things. Now, I get to make a living that way. It’s insane.
Faris: My parents are happy I’m doing a movie they can see.
Samberg: I’ll second that.
Hader: I’ll third that.