Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) follows on from the phenomenal success of the surreal 2009 original, which came out of nowhere to challenge animation hotshots Disney Pixar and Dreamworks. Adapted from the beloved children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett of the same name, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs followed inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and quick-witted weathergirl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) as they attempted to fix the inexorable shower of food created by Flint’s ‘Diatomic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator’. However, things are about to get tasty.
Opening to the people of Chewandswallow moments after the first film concluded, the population have weathered the tempest of burgers and spaghetti but now find themselves in a pickle, with their mid-Atlantic island awash with gigantic leftovers. Larger-than-life business mogul Chester V (Will Forte) has arrived to save their bacon and assist with the clean-up effort, relocating the residents to the mainland and hiring Flint to work in the science department of his company, Live Corp. However, Flint is ordered to leave his post when Chester V requests he return to the island to locate his Diatomic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator, which has turned Chewandswallow into a jungle of myriad menacing food-animal hybrids.
Hidden behind a wall of comic asides, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 lacks some of the original film’s cutting criticism. Its pointed message about how ostensibly thoughtful corporations should still be perceived as cogs in the capitalist machine feels a little overcooked – especially when the film’s antagonist – with his trendy company and styled goatee – is as close one could get to depicting the late Steve Jobs without getting sued. Once Flint and his friends arrive at the candy-coloured island, we’re presented with a flamboyant reimagining of Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs are recreated with spring onions and baked potatoes have mutated into hippopotamuses. The jokes the come thick and fast, with more delicious food puns than you could shake a celery stick at.
This staccato approach to humour often comes across as a little anxiously anarchic compared to the poise and restraint of the original. However, there are still smiles to be mustard here, with enjoyment to be harvested by observing the film’s buffet of anthropomorphic food creatures – be it the Shrimpanzees, the terrifying Tacodile or even the unbearable cutesiness of Barry, the gibberish-speaking strawberry. Whilst hardly a dish fit for the gods, this psychedelic sequel may be the middling desert to a surprisingly moreish meal. Despite lacking the panache of its predecessor, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 remains a feast for the eyes that fans will no doubt relish.