By Simon Miraudo
March 18, 2014
Man cannot survive on puns alone, but it seems kids will happily eat them up. The Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs franchise is one of the more unlikely success stories of recent years, coming from low-rent cartoon factory Sony Pictures Animation (home of Surf’s Up!) and earning some rare acclaim to compliment its boo-koo bucks. Directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn take over for Phil Lord and Chris Miller on this sequel (written by Jon Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, and Erica Rivinoja), which, smartly, doesn’t alter the formula one iota.
Sure, the first one involved amateur inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) creating a machine that induced food-related weather and this one introduces food-mutated animals into the mix. Nonetheless, its source of humour has not changed: that words for food can be easily – and hilariously – slotted into the place of other words. This is what has powered the series to more than $450 million at the box office.
Still, even I – of the pun-obsessed review headlines – was slightly worn out by all the wordplay. Much of the movie is spent with characters screaming the names of foodimals in awe or terror. “Tacodile!” “Shrimpanzee!” “Watermelophant!” (That last one draws a long bow.) I nonetheless consider myself a fan of this saga, thanks to its dynamic, outrageous animation style (separating itself from the slightly more “realistic” world of Pixar), and the fantastic vocal talents of ingenious SNL graduate Hader, as well as the enthusiastic Anna Faris, playing Flint’s meteorologist girlfriend Sam Sparks.
The adventure begins when Flint is hand-picked by the Steve Jobsian Chester V (Will Forte) to join his cult-like enclave of inspiring thinkers, and then asked to return to his home of Swallow Falls so he may examine the newly-created wildlife that resulted from his original invention. Although danger lies ahead, Sam and friends pledge to venture back, once more unto the breach with him. Those friends include big baby Brent (Andy Samberg), Steve the Monkey (Neil Patrick Harris), police officer Earl (Terry Crews), Sam’s camera-operator Manny (Benjamin Bratt), and Flint’s pop, Tim (James Caan). That ensemble is undeniably appealing.
Much madness ensues, resulting in an unusually dark and violent (yet still very cartoonish, so don’t panic, parents) ending. Nonetheless, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is just a sideways step from its predecessor. That’s great news for adults who want a guaranteed good time for their tiddlywinks, but maybe a little bit tiresome for those who aren’t exactly keen on being endlessly introduced to such groan-inducing creations as the Sasquatch, Mosquitoast, Bananostrich… the list is, almost literally, endless.
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 will be available on Quickflix from March 20, 2014.