When the original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs came out I really wasn’t expecting that much out of it. So little, in fact, that I skipped my screening and never saw it. Much to my surprise it generated a lot of good reviews and was quite popular. Just goes to show that you should never judge a movie ahead of time.
Now we have a sequel, and while I still haven’t seen the first one I think Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is exactly what I thought the first one was going to be but wasn’t. Cloudy 2 feels more like a cash in on a name than a needed entity. That’s the wrap the first one could beat, but this one can’t.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Director: Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Sony Animation isn’t really known for their Pixar-level emotional films, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do good things. They can definitely create some great animated movies, it’s just that Cloudy 2 isn’t one of them. There’s creativity in here, but it’s stuck behind an odd desire to be smarter than the movie actually needs to be. To many knowing winks and meta-jokes turn what could be a fun romp through a food jungle into a film that feels like it’s trying to hard to please everyone.
The film picks up immediately after the first film ended, with Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) planning their future along with the rest of the gang from the previous movie. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, there’s not much else to know other than Flint created a machine that made it start raining food and then he and his buddies saved the day from the machine. Of course, now everything is covered in food so clean up has to begin. Enter Chester V (Will Forte), a eccentric tech billionaire caught somewhere between Steve Jobs and Ghandi. Chester is Flint’s childhood idle so Flint jumps at the chance to work for him, which eventually leads the entire crew back to their home, which has been taken over by food monsters.
It’s definitely a setting for some fantastic creativity and animation. The movie does look stunning, and the food animals that the animators have come up with are consistently fun to watch. Beyond a doubt this is a fun movie to watch for the clever use of food as living creatures and world it takes place in.
There’s just not that much more to it that makes it work. Everything else feels very forced or cliche. The movie attempts to have its “minions” with an adorable strawberry character and some pickles, but they just doesn’t work as well. The plot is paper thin as Flint and party trek through the food jungle with Chester V manipulating Flint. The common children’s film life lessons of friendship, teamwork and sharing all pop up repeatedly. The jokes, many leaning heavily into pun territory, are all delivered tongue-in-cheek, but bad puns are so overused in this way that they become lame again.
What falls through the most, however, is the film’s blatant mocking of Apple, the tech industry, and consumerism. Since the film feels so disingenuous in and of itself its mockery of the tech industry’s disingenuousness feels particularly hypocritical. There’s some fun jabs, but overall it just makes the movie feel more lifeless.
This is despite the best efforts of a talented voice cast. Hader and Faris are charming, but it’s Forte who really steals the show with a slick, accented Chester V. Unfortunately no one is really delivering any lines worth saying. I’m not saying you won’t be chuckling or even laughing (your kids definitely will when it comes to the underwear bungie jumping), but nothing opens up into the heart the film seems to believe it has. By the end the characters haven’t moved anywhere and it just isn’t that interesting once the initial fun of spotting the food animals wears off.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a sequel that wasn’t needed and feels like it. Everything in the film, except for the fantastic food monster designs, feels forced. The comedy drags and the story does little to get you really involved. Just rewatch the first one