Comic-Con isn't all about superheroes murdering each other. It's also about little kids, and one of the biggest kids movies in attendance at SDCC 2013 was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, the sequel to the unexpected 2009 blockbuster about a scientist named Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) whose invention led to a natural disaster involving various giant foods. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 continues that story, and follows Flint and all his friends as they return home to find that the food has evolved into various animal-like creatures. And for the record, yes, this really is a weird franchise.
I spoke to Kris Pearn and Cody Cameron about their first film in the director's chair(s), the strange nature of the whole Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie series, and some of the darker storylines that were cut from the films. Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs 2 opens in theaters on September 27, 2013.
CraveOnline: I never thought a film would be released called Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Kris Pearn: We didn't either. We didn't think a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie was going to get released. Right?
I loved the original idea, about let's take this kids' book which has no plot, just interesting visuals, and then turn it into something like a disaster movie. That was genius. Where do you go from there? Tell me about the development of this.
Kris Pearn: Well, having worked on the first film, both me and Cody were story artists for four years, give or take a few months on that first movie and we had tried a couple of different things in that film but didn't make it. So, we had a whole monster movie ending, where there was like this food volcano and it turned into this sentient food army that was attacking the villagers and the movie as two and a half hours long.
Kris Pearn: It ended up on the floor but we had this itch. It's like, "Okay, so we've done this whole disaster movie thing." The hook was like, "Something's gonna fall on your head." So, we wanted to take the idea of a monster movie and that was the thing that excited us. It was like, "What if?"
Cody Cameron: What's the evolution of the island? What's the evolution of the machine?
Kris Pearn: Right. We had a little bit of a vestigial tail of that idea in our movie with like, the roast chickens and the gummy bears and the pizza slices. That really excited us in the first film. We had to fight to keep it in. So, what if we just made that your hook on this adventure?
So, the hook is to turn the food actually into characters?
Cody Cameron: Yeah. We have food tribesmen, food-animal hybrids and we also have food monsters. We also have like, three different classes of food, as well.
Is there like a food pyramid? Is there a caste system? How does this work?
Kris Pearn: [Laughs] We used to have the cheeseburger hunting his condiments and all of that stuff but it got to be that the movie was becoming about that so we had to…
Cody Cameron: Yeah, we didn't want to be making a statement about fast food or anything like that.
Even the trailer is so full of puns. Do you just have a room with the walls covered in puns?
Cody Cameron: Yeah. In fact, in the very beginning, we were throwing a lot of food puns around and we also had Craig Kellman, our character designer, who went off one weekend and drew a bunch of food-animal hybrids and it's fun because it's actually fairly easy when you've got a food name and an animal name. You know, you've got a Watermelon and an Elephant and you have a Watermelephant. The body's already big, the vine becomes the trunk and the leaves can be the ears. It's like, they kind of happen pretty easily.
Kris Pearn: We love dumb jokes.
Cody Cameron: Don't worry, it's not a whole movie of food puns.
See, that's a disappointment to me. Puns are dying and these types of movies are keeping them alive.
Kris Pearn: We'll hopefully, you know, save the pun. [Laughs] Who was the lady who was always trying to save the children?
Cody Cameron: Oh yeah, it was Meathead's wife on "All in the Family."
Kris Pearn: I bobbled the joke we used.
Cody Cameron: Susan… Sarandon? No.
Kris Pearn: Go ahead, we're wasting your time. [Laughs]
No, that's all I want to hear about is the puns, sir. Judging from the trailer because I haven't seen the movie yet, because you haven't shown it to me yet, it looks like it's got more of almost a Jules Verne vibe, you know? Like, almost like a frontier or discovering a strange culture.
Kris Pearn: A little bit.
Cody Cameron: But also, we were really influenced by a lot of the Lucas and Spielberg and Richard Donner and Joe Dante films of the 80's. It is a bit of that Jules Verne or that Island of Dr. Moreau thing but we also really tap into like, Jurassic Park, ET, Star Wars, Ghostbusters… There's a lot of that kind of… I don't know if Lucas and Spielberg are genres themselves but it's a lot of that type of thing.
You said you had a lot of ideas that didn't make it into 1, now they're making it into 2. What ideas do you have from 2, that didn't fit into the film? Like, a direction you didn't go in, completely?
Cody Cameron: [To Kris] You wanna talk about the Hot Dog Mayor? [Laughs]
Tell me about the Hot Dog Mayor!
Kris Pearn: We definitely had a bit of a Soylent Green moment in our film, where the Mayor shows up on the island and he's been living off of these little, sentient hot dogs, and he kind of already looked like a hot dog. If you look at his design like, the Bruce Campbell thing, you just put a bun on him and he's pretty much there. So, he got a sun tan, he's wearing a beige jacket so he's like, eating these hot dogs.
Cody Cameron: There are like, little caterpillars on leaves and he's plucking them from the leaves and eating them and he's like, addicted.
Kris Pearn: It got a little hard for the studio to have a mayor who was hooked on this hot dog meth, that he was like a meth addict, that he was into these hot dogs. There was a good reason that ended up on the floor and it might end up in Part 3, though. [Laughs]
Cody Cameron: He was in a terrarium and he had little ketchup and mustard water bottles, like a rat in a lab.
Kris Pearn: Like the first movie, we had a lot of big themes. Our objective isn't to be overly preachy with anything because food's always a very political thing. We definitely wanted to say something about the context of this movie, so the first film had a little of "Bigger is better," this film is a little bit about, "Who owns food and where does food come from, and is food people?" And then thinking about what you eat, there was stuff there that we dropped because it was getting a little bit too arch. The mayor was a good example of that.