Before I begin the review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, I think it’s important to address the issue no other critic seems willing to address: the title. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a ridiculous title, it contains far too many syllables, and you feel you need a long-run up to even start to attempt it. “Anyone want to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2?” you are about to ask, but because of the effort involved you opt for “Anyone want to see Gravity?” instead.
There are many alternative titles I would like to suggest. How about Cloudy 2: A Further Chance of Meatballs. This is better since most people will shorten it to Cloudy 2, but it still makes sense. Cloudy with a Chance of Sequels also works better since it’s no longer than the original title, contains a pun, and is more accurate than the actual title, since (SPOILER ALERT) the film contains no meatballs (and if one takes the film’s conclusion to its natural conclusion is actually pro-vegetarian).
Finally, in honour of the FLDSMDFR (Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator) machine which the series revolves around, it could also have been shortened to CWACOM2 (kwah-com 2). So to prevent me losing the will to live when I refer to the title, it shall henceforth be known as CWACOM2. I’d like to think the name will catch on, and soon “CWACOM” and “CWACOM2” will be the only way the adventures of Flint Lockwood are ever referred to, even by the film’s creators.
Anyhow, CWACOM2 begins at the exact point CWACOM ended. Flint has prevented the FLDSMDFR from taking over the world with its replicated food, and is now ready to start a new lab with Sam Sharp and all his other friends on the island. Flint’s hero, Chester V, has other ideas, however. He offers him a job at his company, Live Corp. However, we soon learn that this is just so Flint can be kept off the island and doesn’t learn of Chester V’s plans to utilise the power of the FLDSMDFR for himself.
The original CWACOM was a brilliantly inventive film which seemed to have more ideas and imagination than Dreamworks entire back catalogue combined. It’s mad-cap humour and underlying message also reminded me of The Muppets (a good thing, obviously). Certainly its world-creation and jokes that appeal to both adults and children come from a very similar place. For example, the joke in the first film where all the food starts just attacking famous landmarks could have lifted straight from The Muppets, both relying on the audience’s knowledge of the clichés in disaster films.
In CWACOM2 there is a similar level of humour, and especially great puns as our adventures come across “foodimals” like “Shrimpanzees” and “Flamangoes”. Similarly the art design of the world is bright, colourful, and above all imaginative. Not only are we in awe of what we see, it provokes us to imagine our own foodimals (I was gutted a Bananallama didn’t feature for instance). This provoking of imagination allows me to forgive some of the film’s flaws, which despite its best efforts isn’t quite as strong as the original.
Its main problem goes back to its title; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 makes no sense. The sky is no longer raining food, and yet there’s a reference to it on the first page. The plot and ideas are original enough to sustain the film, however unfortunately the emotional thrust of the first film is no longer there, and this makes it a little predictable.
In the first film Flint had to prove himself as an inventor, as a potential boyfriend to Sam Sharp, and as a worthy sun for his fisherman Dad. Having succeeded at all these things, the film retreads some of these familiar beats in the second film, but leaves little room for tension as we have already seen him overcome these problems in the first film. Yes, there is a further plot where Flint feels the need to prove himself to his idol Chester V, but because we know said character is up to no good from the first five minutes of the film, there is no emotional connection with that storyline.
It is a similar problem to Despicable Me 2, and what saves the film the execution of the film’s ideas. In short it is a film that provokes thought but never any great emotion.
Nevertheless CWOCAM2‘s title and missteps are easy to forgive because the film is just so much fun. Also it has a really adorable strawberry: