Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2  (2013)    73/100

Rating :   73/100                                                                       95 Min        U

The sequel to 2009’s ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ which despite very much flying under the radar was a really great film, making it onto several lists of the ‘top 50 animations of all time’ I’ve seen published since (like this one). The next instalment begins with the clean up operation of central character Flint Lockwood’s home island, after the inventor last time around peppered the area with super sized food dripping from the heavens courtesy of one of his more bananas, and yet genius, schemes (thus the title, and his pearing up with saucy meteorologist Sam Sparks). Enter traditional bad guy and cereal capitalist Chester V who intends to use Flint’s invention to steak a claim on his own evil food bar empire – all via the Foodbar 8.0, the only problem is he was Flint’s childhood inventing idol when he was growing up, will that boyish admiration be left in tatters?

Chester and his company Live Corp are a not too subtle parody of Apple (and the latte Steve Jobs, who also co-founded animation giant Pixar {Cloudy is from Sony Pictures Animation}) – which not only fits thematically but is arguably comedic with shadier undertones for a company currantly sandwiched between tax avoidance scandals and a price rigging pickle, not to mention their support for SOPA and PIPA… All satire aside though, Chester is one of the weaker ingredients in the film, and he comes across as fairly creepy – more akin to something out of South Park than the loveable creatures Cloudy normally serves up. Indeed, the visual richness and appeal of the animation, and the filmmakers sense of humour, is really where these films stand out – the creation at Live Corp of a zero emission car that runs on ‘cute’, for example, and the shot of the tank being opened up to uncover a cuddly sort of kitten squashed into it – but full of beans and happily purring away, its huge eyes gazing lovingly up at the driver. Nice.

Despite Chester V, Flint becoming a little too weak for a central character, and an over reliance on monkey jokes via his close friend Steve (who is indeed a monkey) eventually the film comes into its own with a wonderful story arc that sees all the food from the previous film literally come to life Jurassic Park style, allowing the animators to really put their creativity to the test – generating a visual feast for the eyes. Flint returns to the island to get to the root of the problem, along with several of the characters from the first film – his father, Sam Sparks, Manny, Brent and of course Steve, but on their adventure they encounter a new companion, Barry, the next stage in culinary evolution (pictured above, with their first meeting below) who turns out to be one of the best helpings of the series, and I think I speak for all the adults in the audience when I say – I WANT A MOTHER FUCKING TALKING STRAWBERRY THAT HIDES IN MY BACKPACK AND SAYS ‘MOOOOOOO?’!!!

Despite the film’s early weaknesses and the slight leekage of interest, I’d still fallen in love with it come the end, and judging by all the young sprouts in the audience running around dancing at the end credits, they relished it even more than I did. Bill Hader stars as Flint, with Anna Farris (who sizzles perfectly in the role) as Sparks, and James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Ben jam in Bratt, Terry Crews (replacing Mr Tea) and Neil Patrick Harris rounding out the rest of the support. There is a brief post credits scene too. Mooooooooo?

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