Arriving in cinemas some four years after its predecessor, “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2” continues the trend of moving away from the source material by completely bypassing the second book (“Pickles To Pittsburgh”) and picking up the moment the first film finished.
When a corporate clean-up crew from Live Corp arrive, Flint, Sam, Flint’s Dad, Officer Devereaux and the rest of the gang (“Steve!”) are relocated to the mainland while the island of Swallow Falls is cleaned up. However, when team after team sent to the island by Live Corp’s charismatic and egotistical CEO disappear, he asks Flint to lead one final expedition to locate the FLDSMDFR. Arriving at the island, Flint and his friends find that the FLDSMDFR not only survived the explosion but that something else did too.
It’s not quite as witty or wildly inventive as the first film but it’s still visually appealing, and the lack of its predecessor’s warmth and charm is richly compensated for with delightful character design. The foodimals are clever and adorable while the writers clearly had a ball coming up with each species’ puntastic name. Unfortunately, they also underestimated their audience, so each foodimal name pun is explained clearly before it’s revealed, which undermines much of the humour. There’s also a slight tendency to push running gags slightly too far, but the whole thing’s so good-natured and the jokes (both visual and verbal) fly at you so thick and fast you won’t really mind.
While there are obvious allusions to “Jurassic Park”, the film is lacking the acerbic Jeff Goldblum-type character it sorely needs. With the gang all back and settled from the first film, there’s little genuine conflict to spark the story to life and it’s left to the new character of Chester V, the CEO of Live Corp and his super-intelligent orangutan sidekick to drive the plot forward. If I were Apple, I’d be checking the cast and crew list on IMDB.com and comparing it to a list of disgruntled ex-employees because there are plenty of pot shots taken at both Steve Jobs and Apple itself. ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs Sequel Takes A Bite Out Of Apple’ is the best headline you’ll never see on this blog. Overall though, there’s a slight feeling the film is holding itself back and pulling its punches. Maybe its for a potential third installment or maybe story ideas were cut during production for time or pacing, but there are quite a few interesting tantalising things which aren’t explored, such as the heavily foreshadowed Avatar-style uprising led by Barry the Strawberry that never comes to – pardon the pun – fruition. At least the returning voice cast are still on form, although Anna Faris’ Sam Sparks is given slightly less to do this time round and thanks to Mr T’s decision not to voice Officer Devereaux for the sequel, we have Terry Crews. Although he makes a sterling effort, he just can’t match the ‘edge of crazy’-ness of Mr T’s vocals. But credit where credit is due: the man can sell a chest hair gag.
As animated sequel’s go, this one’s still pretty appetising and definitely among the cream of 2013’s animated crop. It’s certainly better than the reheated leftovers you might be expecting, even if it falls short of cordon bleu. If you’ve got little ones to entertain during the half term holidays, then the forecast is bright, with just a slight chance of disappointment.