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.
It’s an approach the film just about gets away with, overcoming the slightness and familiarity of its main narrative with strong characters, a healthy dose of frenetic madness, and some of the most delicious looking food seen on screen since Stanley Tucci’s Big Night.
Following a couple of minutes of quick exposition to bring everyone up to speed, young inventor Flint Lockwood and bright weathergirl Sam Sparkles 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. And in particular, that means we get more of 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, most with no shortage of vitamin C.
The plot, which has a mild echo of the main story of Up (and the film throws in some of the style of I Am Legend), goes through motions you’ll see coming fairly easily, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 doesn’t pretend otherwise. This gives it at least a little bit of wiggle room to subvert scenes slightly when it can, not least when one character does their inevitable ‘walking away from the other in disappointment’ moment.
If Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 doesn’t quite feel as grounded in its storytelling as the original, though, 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 (the film is charmingly announced in the opening credits as ‘another film by lots of people’) go to town with it. It’d be 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.
They’re not quite enough, in truth, to paper over the pretty obvious path the sequel follows, and it does feel that there was a better idea than an outright story here (ironically, the first film had a better story, but it didn’t quite stretch convincingly across the full feature). 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.
Don’t duck out of the lovely end credits, either. It’s worth it for the quick horror sequence a couple a minutes in…
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 is out in UK cinemas on the 25th October.
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