CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2
The animated sequel is a dubious prospect the stories and characters that animated films deal with are so simplistic that most sequels struggle to find new things for the familiar characters to do, case in point being the tedious Ice Age and Shrek sequels and the slightly better Madagascar sequels, while their recent venture into sequels has marked the creative decline of Pixar. The animated sequel has however become a regular box-office fixture throughout the latter half of the 00s with companies relishing the prospect of lucrative franchises that young unsuspecting audiences will flock to.
To this extent, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 disappoints it is a film that is merely coasting along off the wacky visual delights that the first film held. The first film had a simple arc wacky inventor creates a machine that makes food rain down from the skies. The fun of the film was in seeing a world populated by giant-sized food and the sheer colour and vibrance of Lord and Millers visuals. The sequel is stuck with simply replicating that and not doing a whole lot more. We have now gone from a story where the hero and girl of the show were fighting their way through a storm to turn the food-making machine off to one where the familiar characters from the first film are on an expedition to return to the island, which has now become overrun by food. The main spin is that the food is now living and sentient. We also get the introduction of a villain to the show that the first film never had. It feels very much that what we have is just a repeat of the first film plus a bit more.
What is missing is the novelty that the first film had. This film does compensate by coming up with some wackily creative food creatures rampaging cheeseburgers and taco monsters, butter frogs, a cute and cuddly strawberry (which look like a dead ringer for FT from the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes sequels) that becomes the climactic hero of the hour after taking control of a power suit, a swamp made of pancakes and syrup, scenes with Flints father taking a horde of pickles fishing, among others. Part of the fun of the show is the visual puns where lines like there is a leak in the boat, oh no, its jammed, easy as pie or should be a piece of cake can be taken literally, or where we encounter flamangoes, shrimpanzees and guaca-moles, visit Mussel Beach naturally filled with mussels lifting weights and where the subs are actual submarines. If nothing else, it leaves Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 with more visual life and creativity gone into it than some of the other animated sequels that have disappointed over the 2013 summer season such as Despicable Me 2 (2013) and Monsters University (2013).
In its mid-switch to regard the creatures as an endangered and non-threatening species, the film reminded more than a few times of The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), the least of which is not wistful scenes with the food animals grazing, including spring onions designed like brontosauruses. The proliferation of living food did naturally lead to an interesting debate among the critics circle after the preview about the biology of such an eco-system like if all the food and plant life are living then what do the creatures eat? Or how can an eco-system maintain hierarchies of parents and children when all the creatures are brought to life artificially? Does that mean that the smaller creatures are stuck as children forever unable to grow up? You suspect that anything that tried to make biological sense of such would be utterly surreal.