This review is only turning up online after the film in question has left cinemas, but I thought I would very quickly share my two cents on it as that was the original purpose of the blog – to review animations that make it into cinemas. This isn’t really a review, just a jumbled collection of thoughts as I focus on finishing a certain project before January 1st.
The first Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs film was an unexpected delight, blending puns, surrealism, slapstick and farce into one memorable comedy, throwing every joke possible at the screen and most of it stuck like well cooked spaghetti. Even the title was a great joke. This was combined with a father-son story that was more effective than most, and a nicely offbeat, colourful aesthetic. I’d personally rank it as one of my favourite CG animations. The news of a sequel was initially ominous as the title – simply sticking a ‘2’ at the end – seemed to display a lack of thought behind it. When plot details were revealed it became clear that the title didn’t even make sense in a new context. Add to that the fact that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were no longer directing and the signs were bad.
Thankfully, however, Cloudy 2 manages to be one of the best American animations of the year that, while immensely derivative of the first film, still succeeds at being one of the most consistently hilarious things to hit cinemas 2013. It loses some of the layers of humour from the first – it’s less farcical and surreal – but ups the ante in terms of puns and visual humour to compensate. The father-son subplot feels like a rehash of the first, but the visuals are once again good enough to make you immensely hungry. It also aims for a whole new level of cuteness, clearly skewing at a younger audience than the first with its smiling strawberries and baby marshmallows. So it’s not quite as good as the first, as suggested by the title, but it is hilarious.
The chief joy of Cloudy 2 is the way it turns punning into an art form. Any combination of food/animal names possible turns up over the course of the film, some spoken out loud, others left for the audience to guess. There’s one sublime moment, however, that builds up these expectations of intelligent(ish) puns before letting you down with a sad looking vegetable – it’s the kind of joke that I’ve left deliberately vague in the explanation as it requires the visuals to make you snort out your soft drink. The funniest moment in the film, however, is a glorious visual gag that involves a wide shot as Sam Sparks leaves Flint behind in a swamp of syrup. It’s daft but inspired, like the film as a whole. With all of these jokes, explaining it is pointless (making comedy really hard to write about), just go in expecting to have your gut busted. It really is funny, even if I’m not selling it as such.
One final thought – Cloudy 2 features a clear villainous Steve Jobs type figure and a giant, invention-crushing corporation not too dissimilar to Apple. It feels, at times, like Cloudy 2 is trying to fit in a bit of satire and critique of globalism and capitalism in amongst the feast of jokes. When you come for tasty humour, such moralising is bitter to swallow.