Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2
Director: Cody Cameron & Kris Pearn.
Cast: (voices of) Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Terry Crews, Kristen Schaal.
THE first Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was zany with more than a chance of becoming a favourite for fans of quality CG animation.
It was a feast for the eyes, with its wacky food-gone-crazy antics mashed onto a disaster-movie base to create a tasty new treat that was very different to the offerings served up by Pixar, Blue Sky, Dreamworks or any of the other major animation houses.
Naturally, Sony Animation had to go back for seconds, but the latest helping of this story is a bit like eating chocolate cake - sure the first piece is good, but the more you eat, the less enjoyable it becomes.
Cloudy 2 is a frenetic barrage of colour and action, with plenty of bizarre set-pieces to keep the attention of a young audience... Teens and adults will be left hungry for something more substantial.
Cloudy 2 picks up where the first film left off, with Flint Lockwood (Hader) and his friends saving the day from his invention that turns water into food, which ran amok and turned their island of Swallow Falls into something that resembles the floor under the kids table after Christmas dinner.
Just as they're celebrating shutting down Flint's FLDSMDFR (yes, that's what the invention is called), famed inventor Chester V arrives at Swallow Falls to lead the clean-up operation, ushering residents off the island and recruiting Flint to work at his company.
But all is not as it seems, and soon Flint and his friends are heading back to Swallow Falls, which has become a menagerie of "foodimals" that could threaten to takeover the world.
These "foodimals" are both the best and worst thing about Cloudy 2. While they are visually impressive and make for an interesting plot device at times, they ultimately become a tiresome parade of bad puns - their portmanteau names like "shrimpanzees", "watermelephants" and "flamangoes" are increasingly groan-inducing, yet it seems this is the bulk of the film's humour.
They're a good example of the kids-only gags that have replaced the all-ages laughs of the first film, with only the background antics of Flint's monkey Steve saving the day.
As a children-only adventure, Cloudy 2 works reasonably well. It's a frenetic barrage of colour and action, with plenty of bizarre set-pieces to keep the attention of a young audience. It revels in its "mysterious island" setting, the plot isn't too bad, and it does a good job of maintaining momentum, mostly by ditching things such as character development, any deeper themes, or any kind of emotional investment.
On the other hand, the teens and adults will be left hungry for something more substantial. The inventiveness of the first installment seems reduced to a one-ingredient dish, the themes are so subtle as to be almost non-existent, and its difficult to find much of a care-factor for Flint and his friends because they're not meaty characters.
This is where the difference between these two servings of Meatballs lies. The original was a well-cooked smorgasbord for the whole family, while the sequel is like a kids dessert menu - all sweets, no substance.
If you think the food metaphors and similes I've whipped up in this review became increasingly tiresome and childish, then that perhaps is the best analogy of all for describing Cloudy 2.
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