Nov 3, 2013

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 [3D] [U]

Dir: Cody Cameron, Chris Pearn

I enjoy titles.  I enjoy coming up with them and I love to see a well crafted title, indeed that alone can be enough to get me into a cinema or interested in hearing an album.  Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is not a title that I was immediately sold on; it's unwieldy and unappetising in several ways, but I ended up seeing it when I heard it described by Mark Kermode as 'David Lynch for kids'.  I found it not quite what I expected - more Lynch crossbred with Looney Tunes - but still an hilariously funny and highly inventive movie.  I didn't, however, leave thinking 'that needs a sequel', but it made lots of money and so here we are.

Cloudy 2 opens moments after the first film ends, with Flint (Bill Hader) and his friends planning to start a lab together.  However, Flint's childhood hero, Chester V (Will Forte) shows up and offers him a job working at his suspiciously Apple-like company LiveCorp, who are taking care of the cleanup of Swallow Falls.  Flint takes the job, but is soon manipulated by Chester into going back to Swallow Falls - now overrun by living, sentient, foodimals - to find the FLSMDFR.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 never really stood a chance.  The first film was incredibly refreshing; an anarchic, witty, surreal thing of the kind we don't often see, it's the kind of thing that, one suspects, can't be repeated.  This proves to be the case right from the off.  The first film established its anarchic tone with a banana falling from the sky and knocking the Columbia lady from her pedestal and with the title card 'A Film By A Lot Of People'.  Cloudy 2 replicates these moments, this time with a banana foodimal and 'Another Film By A Lot Of People', but they feel like empty echoes, desperate attempts to recapture what was fresh in the first film.  And so the tone is set.

There are only two new elements to the film: Flint's hero worship of Chester V (who, oddly, was never mentioned in the first film, it's almost as if he's an afterthought) and the Foodimals.  Neither really works.  Chester V's ultimate role in proceedings is obvious from the off, and the weird motion of the character (an odd fluid movement through his spindly limbs) is as offputting as the voice Will Forte gives him.  He's neither funny nor threatening and the broadsided satire of Apple feels pretty empty.  The foodimals fare even worse, because ultimately all they are - and all a great deal of the film is - are a collection of food puns.  Some are mildly amusing, but even these become wearing because there are just so very many of them.

The existing characters fail to develop beyond where they were at the end of the first film.  A forced conflict puts a wedge between Flint and his friends, but the dynamic between the characters falls flat throughout.  This is, sadly, especially true of Flint and his weather forecaster girlfriend Sam Sparks (Anna Faris).  There was a nice progression of their relationship in the first film, and a connection that made the characters a great fit together.  All of that spark has gone this time, even before that issue becomes a plot point.

The animation is solid enough and there are some scattered laughs (thanks largely to Steve the Monkey), but overall Cloudy 2 is a listless and uninspired sequel to one of the most entertaining kids movies of the last few years.

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