There is a certain kind of frantic cartoon that I really can’t stand. From what I can see it started with Ren and Stimpy but Sponge Bob Squarepants is absolutely the same sort of thing. It just seems so angry and watching it is like being shouted at for twenty minutes (and so it was that he finally turned into his parents).
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on the other hand took that same kind of manic energy and made it fun. Yes it was a bit nuts, like Daffy Duck, but it had some good ideas and it was highly enjoyable. If you are familiar with that film then you know exactly what to expect from the sequel. Often when a second film just gives you more of the same it doesn’t work but here it is exactly what is required. It’s primary colours, infectious enthusiasm and huge eyeballs from start to finish.
The set up here is that the FLDSMDFR machine from the first film survived its apparent destruction and has been acting like a cross between the Genesis Device from Star Trek and Heston Blumenthal, creating an entire ecosystem of food creatures. This gives the writers total freedom to come up with as many cuisine/animal puns as they possibly can with shrimpanzees, watermelephants, tacodiles, mosquitoast and cheesespiders (that last one doesn’t work so well). This is all quite fun but it is in the design that they have really gone to town. These edible beasts all look great, like a Hollywood version of the vegtanimals stand at the county fair.
The originality here happily compensates for the lack of it elsewhere and it doesn’t matter than it borrows from Spielberg’s dinosaur epic (Jursnackic Park? I’ll leave it to the experts) as well as Up, Avatar and Star Trek again (think V,ger from the first motion picture). In fact the cinematic intercontextuality is part of the fun.
Of course I am not the target audience for this movie so I will close with the words of two people who are, my 9 year old and my 4 year old daughter. The former said it was “the cutest movie ever, the best version of a second movie apart from Harry Potter” and her younger sister said “I loved that little cute strawberry”.
You can’t argue with that.
Bechdel Test Score = 3, although one of the women is an ape.