Genre: CG Animation
Director: Kris Pearn and Cody Cameron
Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews, Kristen Schaal
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: Sony Pictures Releasing International
Official Website: http://www.cloudy-movie.com/site/
Opening Day: 10 October 2013
Synopsis: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" picks up where Sony Pictures Animation's mouth-watering comedy left off. Inventor Flint Lockwood thought he saved the world when he destroyed his most infamous invention -- a machine that turned water into food causing cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes. But Flint soon learns that his invention survived and is now creating food-animals – "foodimals!" Flint and his friends embark on a dangerously delicious mission to battle hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees, hippotatomuses, cheespiders and other foodimals to save the world – again!
The last we left aspiring inventor Flint Lockwood and spunky weather girl Sam Sparks, they had just successfully evacuated the people of his hometown of Swallow Falls to escape the cheeseburger hails and pasta tornadoes generated by his Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator - or essentially, a device he invented that turns water into food. ‘Cloudy 2’ picks up mere moments where its predecessor left off, returning our heroes to where it all began, which has since turned into a Jurassic Park of Hippotatomuses, Tacodiles, Bananostriches and Wildebeets.
Ah yes, more than the original, co-directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn - taking over from the original pair of Phil Lord and Chris Miller who have since moved onto next spring’s ‘Lego’ Movie - seem more than happy to let their movie be filled with as many food puns as possible. Besides the aforementioned food animals, there are Shrimpanzees, Susheep, French fry-legged Cheespiders and swarms of Mosquitoasts, all of which are churned out by Flint’s ‘FLDSMDFR’ - or the acronym by which Flint’s device is referred to time and time again.
Beyond the puns however, co-screenwriters Erica Rivinoja, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein can’t quite capture the charm, intelligence nor heart that made the original such an unexpected delight. Indeed, those who have read the original Judi and Ron Barrett’s children book will probably agree that despite the mountains of excess (pun intended), Lord and Miller grounded their satire of disaster movies (think ‘Twister’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’) with a heartfelt father-son bonding subplot between Flint and his level-headed dad (James Caan) as well as a lively and yet unlikely romance between Flint and Sam.
Nonetheless, as Flint returns to Swallow Falls at the behest of his idol inventor Chester V (Will Forte) to retrieve and terminate his FLDSMDFR, the relationship between Flint and his dad has once again grown colder; what’s more, Flint and Sam have somewhat lost that Spark (another pun intended), with Flint so mesmerised in doing Chester’s bidding that he refuses to believe Sam’s plea to take a closer look at the so-called food terrors. Yet while the familiar themes of reconciliation and romance are once again on the table, their treatment is more perfunctory than poignant, lacking in the conviction and clarity that made them resonate in the first place.
That the storytelling isn’t up to par with the original is certainly a pity, especially when one considers that the technical artists must have really challenged themselves to do better this time round. In that regard, there is no doubt that they have succeeded exceedingly. One marvels at the amount of detail on the screen - from the flora to the fauna to the ‘Foodimals’ mash-up, almost every frame is an aesthetic wonder in itself. Not only are the living creatures weird and wonderful, they also pop off the screen with zaniness whenever some action sequence rolls along - and it is no understatement to say that the animation and even the 3D quality of it is simply stunning.
And yet with the expense of the plotting is too the characterisation, which relies too heavily on its audience’s nostalgia for its own good. There is too little time in between the puns for the characters to interact, so much so that they have lost much of their idiosyncrasies (remember just how Baby Brent ended up wearing a stuffed chicken suit) and by extension their endearing nature. The same can be said of the energetic voice cast, which while just as excellent as before, are given much less room to emote in between the frenetic proceedings.
Not that we suspect family audiences will mind - everything moves at a zippy clip, and the visual cornucopia is likely to be sufficient distraction from a less inspired plot than the original and, for that matter, a bunch of less distinctive characters. As long as you subscribe to the filmmakers’ credo that everything begins and ends with the imagery, you’ll probably enjoy this feast for the eyes. And oh, if your humour falls along the line of ‘there’s a ‘leek’ in the boat’, you’ll have the time of your life gorging on them insatiable food-borne puns.
(Not nearly as clever or original than its precedessor, this visually sumptuous sequel offers a visual feast and an endless buffet of food-borne puns)
Review by Gabriel Chong