(Cut to the vegetable in the boat. See below.)
When I first heard the premise for the original CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, where an inventor creates a machine that turns water into food that eventually gets out of hand and starts producing enormous food that falls from the sky, I thought it was absolutely ludicrous. I avoided the film at first but eventually caved and saw it in theatres. To my great surprise, I actually loved it. It was incredibly funny and offbeat and one of the best animated features I’d seen that year. Given the film’s success, a sequel was naturally put into production and I found myself right back where I started again when I heard the premise of this one, which I will get into in a moment. The question then became, would I be just as pleasantly surprised the second time around?
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 begins with a reasonably lengthy recap of what you might have missed the last time out. This works for a couple of reasons. Aside from catching the audience up, it also helps to remind us that what we are about to watch is not meant to make any logistical sense whatsoever. It is meant to be silly and the introduction helps situate the viewer on the appropriate page to appreciate what is to follow. Essentially, after Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), our favourite wide-eyed inventor, has saved the day from his own food generating contraption, his favourite inventor, Chester V (Will Forte), sweeps in to lead the cleanup initiative, as Flint’s leftovers left a pretty big mess behind. Naturally, Chester’s intentions are far from pure and, when he can’t get a handle on what Flint created, he enlists Flint to help him, without revealing his sinister plan. This is when Flint discovers that all the giant food his machine created has now come to life and has taken over his home town, with the potential of giant cheeseburger/spider hybrids threatening to leave that island and attack the mainland. You can see how suspending all sense of reality could come in handy here.
Flint is joined on his expedition by all of his cohorts from his first adventure, including girlfriend, Sam (Anna Faris), his father (James Caan), and his monkey, Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), amongst others. There is no reason for all of these people to be bound together in this mission other than they were the standouts from the first film, but their chemistry together works well enough to make you look the other way. That said, one shouldn’t look away too often given that CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 is an explosion of colour and imagination (green onions as dinosaurs, potatoes as hippos) that will surely wow all the little ones who have been waiting impatiently for this film to come out. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of this film. It is not as clever nor as spontaneous as the first film, but it still manages enough bizarre and unexpected humour to make it plenty enjoyable. It may play like leftovers at times but at least CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 still tastes almost as good as when it was first served.
How many sheep would you give Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2?