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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – Movie Review

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

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With Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the filmmakers took the concept of a food storm and made a beloved tribute to disaster films, coupled with puns galore. For the sequel, there is more of a Jurassic Park vibe on-screen fitting with the idea of this being a “lost world”, as our characters head to an island full of magnificent animals. These animals being food hybrids leads to plenty of golden opportunities for more puns and for the animators to go nuts with the material. While the story is not as strong as what was displayed the first time around (and it’s hard for such a novel concept to be as fresh on the second trip), there is still a good amount to marvel and laugh at.

A film like this affords many opportunities for the many talented artists on an animated project to get creative and each “foodimal” is exceptionally well designed and thought out. In a moment recalling the iconic “Welcome to Jurassic Park” line from the Spielberg blockbuster, the camera panning out to reveal the various animals is one of the happiest images I’ve seen this year. The little details and pure deliciousness on-screen make all of the foodimals that much more charming and they prove to be as sympathetic as the main heroes. The surprising scene-stealer is a little strawberry aptly named Berry, who accompanies the characters on their adventure. In addition to being absolutely adorable, he gets some of the funniest moments and his own personal journey is one of the more well-developed in the movie.

The clever designs are also applied to the human characters, featuring the same rubbery-limbed movements they showcased in the first film. From Flint Lockwood’s quickly typing fingers to Officer Earl’s zany hopping, each character has their own unique animation that fits them. It is very evident that the animators took a lot of inspiration from the Fleischer Brothers’ style of squash-and-stretch rubber-hose cartoons. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is further proof of the growing influence of classic hand-drawn animation techniques on today’s digital features. Considering Sony Animation’s follow-up project is a new Popeye adventure, this was fantastic practice and a preview of what to possibly come.

The use of humour in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 continues what original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller brought to the first one. There is a lot of emphasis on delightful puns and all of the creative ways the filmmakers utilise food. The physical comedy and use of colours also add to the humourous nature of the script, so even when something funny is not being said (which is rare), the animators and storyboard artists more than pick up the pace. The voice actors, consisting of plenty of SNL alumni, also bring a lot to their characters. Bill Hader has so much energy when playing Flint Lockwood and Anna Faris provides the right combination of humour and sweetness to Sam Sparks. While Mr. T was quite the breakthrough in the first Cloudy and made the unknown decision to not reprise his role for the sequel, Terry Crews is a worthy replacement and brings the same macho delivery to Earl.

What makes Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 a bit of step-down from its predecessor is its antagonist. A Steve Jobs-like scientist with ulterior motives, Chester V is a cliché and fairly predictable villain whose every move can be guessed a mile away. Despite his wonderfully retro design, great character animation involving the most rubbery arms imaginable and the occasional funny line, he proved a bit of an annoyance every time he appeared. His ape sidekick, with her own strange story-arc, also never warmed up to me. In the grand scheme of things, he proved quite unnecessary when the unknown dangers of the mutated Swallow Falls was enough of an obstacle. Considering he is also the third straight animated villain this year to be the main hero’s childhood idol turned evil, there is even more of a been-there-done-that feeling present.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 may not have the same level of strong storytelling that the first film displayed, new director Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn show the same level of creativity that Lord and Miller displayed on the previous chapter. With puns per minute and a whole cast of lovable animals sure to make both zoologists and culinary enthusiasts smile, this serves as a nice continuation with its own brand of wonder and joy. It is obvious a lot of imagination was put into this and it’s a further showcase of the talented animators working at Sony Pictures’ in-house unit.

Review By: Stefan Ellison

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