Cinema Review – Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

In the immediate aftermath of the foodageddon at Swallow Falls, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is given a chance to work with his idol Chester V (Will Forte), and jumps at the chance. Back in Swallow Falls, however, something odd is happening with Flint’s machine, and it won’t be long before Flint has to go back and investigate.

Much of the cast of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan and Neil Patrick Harris – have returned for the sequel, and are joined by the excellent Will Forte as Chester V, and the ever lovable Kristen Schaal as Barb the ape. Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn take over directing duties leaving screenwriting up to John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein and Erica Rivinoja, with previous directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord having input into the story. The cast are top notch as usual – even though some of them have changed a little too much from the original – and the introduction of Will Forte as the omni-present and omni-bendy Chester V is a welcome one.

The story is that Flint’s machine has allowed the food to not only become sentient – as we saw at the end of the first film – but also to imitate creatures found in nature, as well as their behaviours and habitats, which leads to some fun combo animals – including a pie-thon, shrimpanzees and mosquitoast. This also opens the film up to having a Jurassic Park feel, as much of the film is spent running away from creatures that the characters don’t understand, as well as some gorgeous, Speilberg-esque cinematography. Oh, and also foodimal dinosaurs. Hurrah!

Story wise; at the end of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Flint had saved the day by taking his unpronounceable machine out of orbit, but the town of Swallow Falls was still under siege by giant food. It’s a good job that Flint’s idol Chester V was on hand to take on the clean up job with no ulterior motive at all. Noooo… Flint has to learn valuable lessons about cherishing all life, even if it scares him, and realising who his friends truly are. And that to a strawberry named Barry, he’s an idol. All standard lessons for kids – except maybe the strawberry – but ones that are done in a fun way. The trouble is that the pacing is a little all over the place; moving the characters away from the island for six months to facilitate the growth of Yum-rassic Park (I just came up with that) feels a little messy too. The good news is that Steve the monkey is back and still has great advice (‘can’) and a fear of birthday cake candles.

After the success of the first film, it was clear that there was room for a sequel, and the idea behind the foodimals is a great one, but there is less quirkiness here than we had the first time out, and it was the quirkiness that made the first film so special. Sure, the characters use ‘finger guns’ for a lot of the film, and Flint still has a heart of gold, but many of the little touches are missing, and they are missed. Thank god for Barry the Strawberry (‘Nnwoo?’) and the screaming leeks. John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein and Erica Rivinoja’s script is still full of good lessons and little oddities, but the supporting cast of Steve, Barry, the runaway TV and the various foodimals steal the show.

Directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn do well with their first major film, but their lack of experience in the director’s chair shows; the visuals are great but the film feels less coherent than the first one, and some of the life lessons feel a little tacked on, as though the directors got caught up with the action and forgot the morals. As well as this, Flint’s voyage through his former home feels like little more than a thin thread to tie scenes, that sometimes feel like stand alone shorts, together.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a decent follow up to a surprisingly good film. The supporting cast steal the show – the background of this film is a busy and entertaining place – but this means the audience attention is often diverted. The scale of the film is wonderful, as are the nods to Jurassic Park, but while all the ingredients are there, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is just not as tasty as its predecessor. We are bound to have a final course here, let’s just hope it’s dessert and not a cheese cart.

Rating: 3/5

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