Reviewed by Sam Robinson
Rated G. Starring the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris. Directed by Cody Cameron & Kris Pearn.
In a world where a quota of films targeted at children are rolled out every school holiday period, originality is becoming rare. But back in 2009, a surprise gem emerged – Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was different, witty, clever, and most of all original.
It transported us into the mind of smart-yet-vague Flint Lockwood (Hader), a young inventor scarred by past failures, as he comes up with the invention of a lifetime: a machine that literally rains food out of the sky. Now, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 has arrived. It’s not as good as it’s predecessor, but makes an effort to reinvent itself to keep the returning entertained.
The film opens with a strange and unnecessary three-minute recap of the first film (seriously, just take 80 minutes to watch the first film!) before commencing the action right where we left off. The day has been saved but Swallow Falls is a mess of oversized food. Steve Jobs-like inventor Chester V (Will Forte) shows up to clean the island, evicting the town’s occupants to the mainland. But Chester has a plan to find Flint’s invention from Cloudy I and revive it for his own (evil) devices.
Flint starts working for Chester V (a long-time hero of his) at a company seemingly parodying both Google and The Jetsons. Before long, Flint and pals are summoned back to the island to search for the invention, but things have changed drastically. Swallow Falls has become a food Jurassic Park – all the food has come to life and adopted animal mannerisms.
There’s plenty of laughs to be had with this film but the best ones come from visual gags. Whether it’s Flint’s monkey Steve running around the frame with his tail alight, or a raise of the monobrow from Flint’s father Tim (James Caan), it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled. But be warned: Swallow Falls would best be renamed Pun Town. The writers must have had a field day in the office inventing food-animal (or, ‘foodimal’) puns, and really, it’s done to death. The characters encounter tacodiles, watermelonphants, hippotatomus, and more. I actually found myself distracted, seeking to spy the next unnamed foodimal and think of its name before the characters did! It’s clever, but overdone.
One thing that I love about the Cloudy movies is the celebration of invention. Flint is simply beside himself with joy as he creates new things, even if they don’t work out the way he intended. In Cloudy II Flint has to face the reality that this food world he has created in Swallow Falls has gone crazy in his absence. Flint was the one who began it all, and now he has to enter into the island to repair the damage.
I’ve just attended a weekend away with my local church where we considered what it means to be created in God’s image, and that because of sin we are now broken images. Yet incredibly, God has sent his Son Jesus – who is the creator and perfect image of God – into this messy world to save it. Colossians 1:15-16:
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
All things have been created through him and for him, yet Jesus chose to enter into the world he made, which was running amok, trying to live without him as King.
Flint has to decide whether he’s going to step up and save the world – but that’s only from mass food devastation. Jesus saves us from sin and death, by dying in our place on the cross. It’s the ultimate rescue.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a sequel that doesn’t rise to the level of its predecessor, but still manages to thoroughly entertain. I’m giving it three-and-a-half stars out of five.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and streaming on Quickflix.