Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, 2013.
Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn.
Featuring the voice talents of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris and Terry Crews.
Flint Lockwood now works at The Live Corp Company for his idol Chester V. But he's forced to leave his post when he learns that his most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs took many by surprise. What everyone expected to be a half-baked pile of forgettable tosh turned out to be among the best computer animated movies ever made with its quick humour, well-written characters, gorgeous designs and an interesting story. So successful was the film in terms of critical and movie-goer praise that Sony decided to push forward a sequel, only this time there isn't a book to be based upon. It was never going to be a piece of cake but unlike Jurassic Park III, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 certainly lives up to the brilliance of the first movie, even if it doesn't quite match it.
Set moments after the ending of its predecessor, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn't hesitate in introducing a new character in the form of Chester V - an inventor Flynn has idolised since he was a child. Through a series of (mostly) pointless and contrived events, it transpires that the FLDSMDFR has evolved to create not only its own eco-system but it a whole menagerie of food/animal hybrids who look to be quite menacing. So, under the orders of Chester V, the gang must get back together to head home to Swallow Falls in order to finally shut down the FLDSMDFR.
Your enjoyment of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 depends on answering one question - do you like puns? If you're answer is "no", then chances are you'll probably groan at the movie more than you'll laugh. Although it doesn't rely solely on pun-tastic humour, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is pretty pun-stopable when it comes to food related puns. There are a few points in the movie where the dialogue is nothing but puns that are rattled off one after the other like a quick-fire Milton Jones stand-up and just when you think they've pushed this central gag to its limit, they manage to pull out another food-based pun. The central gag of the food-animals is inspired and never fail to raise a chuckle, whether it be a hip-potato-mus, water melophants, shrimpanzees, subwhales, susheep or mosquitoast, all the food-animals cut the mustard and are sometimes absurdly cute.
One of the shining graces of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was that it wasn't a kids movie that had jokes in there just for adults - it was a movie where the jokes where written for everyone of all ages. At times, the movie felt more like a parody of a kids film and this is followed up in its sequel. The whole movie has its tongue placed so firmly in its cheek but they balance it out rather well to make sure it still entertains its target demographic while not talking down to adults. Very few movies get this right and while Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 does slide a little more towards safe kids-friendly fodder with a perfunctory 'best friends' storyline, it never loses sight of what made the first movie so special.
This of course is also helped by the superb voice cast including Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, James Caan and Benjamin Bratt all embracing the absurdity of the movie and their performances are beautifully matched with the animation of their characters. The lack of Mr. T is noticeable, but Terry Crews does a good job in not trying to replicate him and do his own thing. Will Forte and Kristen Schaal are fine additions to the crew, but their characters are a little flat and under-developed and Forte doesn't quite match up to the greatness that Bruce Campbell brought in the first movie.
And that sadly is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2's biggest problem - it just isn't quite as good as the first one. It stands up as its own movie and it was always going to be a tough act to follow, but there's something about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 that doesn't quite get the same reaction as the movie that came before it. The characters are all there, the humour is great, the animation is gorgeous and the story is very good (even if it is bogged down by superfluous subplots), but it doesn't quite have that spark of brilliance that made everyone stand up and take notice of its predecessor.
But regardless of how it compares, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is still still one of the best animated movies to come out this year and is a close second behind Despicable Me 2. If puns are not your thing than you probably won't get much joy out of it, but Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has a lot of heart and is genuinely funny. It doesn't quite tick all of the boxes, but it's certainly no turkey.
Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth's co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.