[Review] - Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Courtesy of Sony Animation
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was an odd duck. The oddest I've seen in some time. Here was a film, based on a children's book, that while aesthetically appealing to children, was 90 minutes of Python-like absurdity. It was clever and original and wickedly funny, and featured Bruce Campbell as a villain. There was everything to love about that film, and you didn't have to be five to find any charm. In fact, it was far more satisfying form an adult perspective than any non-Pixar animated film to come out in a decade. And Sony, being Sony, has never met an idea they couldn't hammer into the ground while attempting to make it a franchise. Cloudy was a film that didn't need a sequel, was not naturally born to a sequel, and now in the aftermath of a sequel, should never have gotten a sequel.

Cloudy 2 lacks any of the spark that made the first film great. It relies too heavily on revisiting the jokes from the first film, has no original theme to explore and wasted all of the best jokes in the trailer. It's a tepid rehash that can best be described as maintaining the law of diminishing returns that governs Sony Animation. This is a film whose only charm could be found by five year olds.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that is not a monkey.

Cloudy 2 doesn't have a point. I mean that from a structural perspective. There is no thesis to the film, no moral to tell, except for the moral that the first one told, and that Flint apparently forgets ten seconds into this film. It tries to set up a few themes over the course of the film, but either doesn't understand how to address them, or just forgets. There is the intention to learn that friendship should be valued and relied upon, but considering that Flint abandons his friends several times over the course of the film, and the characters contribute nothing to the story, that idea falls a little flat. About the only one that plays through to completion is "don't meet your heroes," which is a very bleak message to put out what is very obviously a kids film.

Despite being from the writers of Horrible Bosses, there is nothing for the adults here. So many of the gags are cut and pasted from the first film, it relies entirely on an infant's enjoyment of endless repetition, just another mindless entry in a potential series of mindless entries that will boost Sony's bottom line. And that is so disappointing, it makes the film feel that much worse.

All the characters from the original return, except Bruce Campbell, and by the end of the film there is no indication as to why. Aside from Flint (Bill Hader) and Tim (James Caan), none of the characters contribute anything to the film. Sam (Anna Faris), Chicken Brent (Andy Samberg), Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), Manny (Benjamin Bratt) and Earl (now voiced by Terry Crews) all join Flint on his adventure, but none of them are necessary. They each get to repeat a gag from the first film, and then fade into the background. Even Steve the monkey, who was the standout character from the first film, only gets one gag worth a chuckle. If Sam had been the only other character to return, the film wouldn't have changed in any significant way, except that when she got kidnapped it would seem a lot more like a Mario Bros. game than it already does.

 Part of the problem is that this film has a villain. Chester V (Will Forte) is a Thomas Edision by way of Steve Job billionaire tech gods, who seeks to steal the FLDSMDFR (a gag that was funny once in the original, and is beaten into dead horse pulp here) for nefarious purpose. The original didn't have an outright villain, other than man's own hubris, so the film was able to explore the concepts of achieving potential, coming together as a community, and learning to love your own faults, as well as those you love. Here, it's a bland "stop the bad guy" plot, as seen in every film ever. Chester seduces Flint with the promise of glory, and Flint must discover that Chester is evil, which is very obvious to everyone but Flint.

The trailer promised a plethora of food puns, and there were. Sadly, they were all in the trailer, and just repeated over and over during the film, each time with the expectation that they would be just as funny the ninth time as they were the first. Lesson to aspiring writers: puns have no shelf life. Use them and discard them, never revisit. The rest of the movie is largely humourless, with great stretches of film where it's not that the gags aren't funny, it's that they are non existent. At the time, I made a note that the best laugh of the film came from something that happened during the end credits, but a few days out and I can't remember anything about the gag, which isn't a good sign.

The one shining star in this otherwise disappointing endeavour is Berry the strawberry, who is this film's Steve. He steals every scene, and was the only character to produce a consistent laugh track from the audience. Sadly, beyond that, anything new is stale, and everything else is just repackaged. The opening credits, the opening narrations, the character conflicts (which were all resolved at the end of the last film). It's a lesser quality Xerox of a film that was impressive.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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