As children we all get told off for playing with our food, but this movie goes all out to defy this argument. Hell, it encourages it!
Picking up merely minutes after the end of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, this welcome sequel treads a path slightly away from the source material, choosing to go with an original story rather than a straight adaptation of one of the other books in author Judi Barrett’s series.
This time around whizzkid inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) must rescue the island of Swallow Falls from being entirely overrun by food-imals, which his most successful device accidentally spawned. Following a couple of minutes of quick exposition to bring everyone up to speed, our young inventor and bright weathergirl Sam Sparks vow to form a lab together. However, fate takes one of its turns when Flint’s idol, legendary Live Corp head honcho and inventor Chester V, recruits him.
It’s a dream come true for Flint, but not the kind of dream where he leaves his old friends behind. This means we get more to learn more about his father, Tim Lockwood (voiced by James Caan), and hairy security specialist Earl Devereaux (with Terry Crews replacing Mr T on voicing duties there). In fact, one of the main merits of the Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs films is there’s a supporting cast who can generate a good chuckle when required. In this case, new characters are drafted in too, with similar abilities.
On the returning to Swallow Falls Flint discovered his delicious creations have evolved. The island is now populated by bizarre food animals ranging from toothy tacodiles to lumbering hippotatomuses. The only way to stop them invading the mainland is to shut down the machine for good and that means embarking on an epic journey from the breakfast bog all the way to the big rock candy mountain, battling the likes of cheespiders and fruit cockatiels.
It is at the exact moment when Flint and his pals, one of them dressed as a chicken, start being chased around the perilous jungle by a cheeseburger, with French fries legs and sesame seed eyes, that the movie stops ambling and starts clicking. It’s too weird a sight not to compel the attention.
If anything, this spectacle is topped when a horde of greedy gherkins, sliced almost in two so that they flap around chomping on things, start fighting over a can of sardines, or when we clap eyes on a beast called a Tacodile – that’s a crocodile with a heavily stuffed taco for its mouth, and a wagging green chilli for its tail.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 doesn’t quite feel as grounded in its storytelling as the original, although it does have something else up its sleeve: a willingness to just go a bit bonkers from time to time. At a point where family movies struggle a little for identity, the visual splendour on offer here feels distinct, and the filmmakers go to town with it.
It would have been fascinating to have sat in the animators’ brainstorming sessions to see just what kind of things they rejected, so gloriously bananas are some of the things that made the final cut.
Yet there’s enough fruity fuel in its proverbial tank once again, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 is a welcome, quality sequel, which very much makes the idea of a third instalment a welcome one. It’s no triumph of screenwriting or subtext. But it’s a feast of ingeniously rendered gastronomic insanity – and that’ll do.
This truly tasty sequel to the hit 2009 animation delivers another smorgasbord of entertainment. Don’t duck out of the end credits either. It’s worth it for the quick horror sequence a couple a minutes in.
By Ruth Walker