Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn were no strangers to the world of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. They were part of the team that was led by Chris Miller and Phil Lord (who went on to make 21 Jump Street) and were ready to step in as directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 with a huge heaping of reverence for the food falling from the sky universe.
In fact, the entire Cloudy with a Chsnce of Meatballs process has been a huge part of both these artists’ lives for almost a decade.
“It’s been a fever dream,” Cameron said to Movie Fanatic recently. “It’s been three years on this one.”
Pearn tosses in the experience making the first film to give us more perspective about the story first seen in the pages of the children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett. “We were on the story in the first film for four and a half years, and then the movie came out about eight months after we pulled off the story. You could probably look at... what? Six, seven, eight years?”
As teased in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 trailer, the film picks up moments after the first movie concludes. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) has gotten control over his invention that sent food falling from the sky. His romance is budding with weather reporter Sam Sparks (Anna Faris). Before they have a chance to celebrate, Will Forte’s Chester V (Lockwood’s hero) lands on Swallow Falls to inform them that the entire island’s population has been relocated for the food clean-up.
Through a series of events, Lockwood and his pals (including policeman Earl -- now played by Terry Crews taking over for Mr. T) head back to the island where food has taken life forms… many of which are terrifying. Tacodiles anyone? Yeah, scary!
For Pearn and Cameron, it was not like they had to start from scratch. They still had unused plot points from the first foray into Swallow Falls. “A lot of the ideas were left over from the first film. We had all of the sentient food stuff. There were longer scenes that we had boarded and so it was great to pull some of that,” Cameron said.
Both show their filmmaking prowess with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (our review is coming soon). Pearn and Cameron admitted that they are amazed at how science has changed and how they created their story as opposed to the first one.
“Back in the old days, when we started on Cloudy [laughs], we were still pinning things on the wall with a stick, and by the end of Cloudy, we were sitting with a computer and just doing that. There has been an evolution that’s just because of technology,” Pearn said. “The pipeline is digital now so you just draw on a computer and hit a button and it goes. You spend $5,000 to replace a sketch book. It’s all pipeline related. Everything is all digital now.”
Besides Tacodiles, there is a Cheespider… and although they could let their imaginations run wild this time, certain foodimals did not work.
“On this film, there was a Tyrannosmaurus mess that was like a T-Rex Smore monster that was in a scene where they were crossing a crumbly glacier, and that scene got cut from the film. So that monster left,” Pearn said. “It had a marshmallow body, a graham cracker mouth with chocolate teeth, and it would breathe fire to caramelize the crust.”
“It had this whole ecosystem,” Cameron added.
Certain foods they wanted to make come alive simply soared over their target audience's heads. “Of course, my own kids were like, ‘Creme brulee glacier? What’s creme brulee?' That became a story problem,” Pearn admitted. “We had to explain first what crème brulee is to America!”
Like most sequels, things are bigger and more involved in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. But, the filmmakers reported that they never lost sight of what made the first film such a hit. “The characters are the most important thing,” Cameron said.
They also had to delve into the mind of their protagonist, Flint Lockwood. “We also started thinking about, what does Flint need to go through? So the first film, he started the film like maybe eight years old and maybe we take him to emotionally 14 years old where he kisses a girl, starts to take responsibility for things, makes some friends, but he’s still in his pre-pubescent phase,” Pearn said.
“In this film, we wanted to graduate him into high school. We wanted to take him out of being the only weird kid and put him in a bigger place, and what happens to that guy as he starts to be accepted and starts to find out who he is in a bigger world.”
The first film was a nod to disaster movies, and if this film seems like it has touches of monster movies, that is no accident. Cameron and Pearn are clear when it comes to what influenced them.
“Jurassic Park was the big one obviously, because we have a watering hole with a Richard Attenborough of Chester’s beard and the Laura Dern outfit that Sam (Neill) is wearing,” Cameron said.
“There are 1980s movies galore that either we do exact jokes to or it’s just homage. There’s Return of the Jedi. There’s some Goonies, a little bit of E.T. and Gremlins. There’s definitely some Teen Wolf in there -- all those movies that we grew up watching and loving.”
For Pearn, he sees influences that run the gamut. “Honestly, when we started Cloudy 1, for the first two months, we sat in a room and watched Irwin Allen movies from the 1970s and Roland Emmerich films (like Independence Day) from the 1990s. We were trying to find a world in between those two,” he said.
“At the same time, we were watching Jaws and Jurassic Park and taking those cues. The idea of coming back to do another Cloudy movie, the first thing we had on the table was the genre. Let’s flip the genre and do a different story.”