|'a film at least worthy to hold a talking strawberry in the general direction of the Cloudy 1'|
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 has no right to be as good as it is. The sequel to a terrific and original animated outing this, by very definition, must lose at least one of those things. In fact, by losing Chris Lord and Phil Miller, Cloudy 2 lost a lot more. You suspect it is more careful planning than 'luck', but even with Lord and Miller gone, even with the fact that this loses the sheer surprise of the first film, it has found Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn to carry the series on in a similar direction and they've produced a film at least worthy to hold a talking strawberry in the general direction of the Cloudy 1.
At least part of the key to the film's success resides in maintaining the madcap atmosphere of the first offering. By setting the narrative on an island filled with Foodimals (food/animal hybrids that have become sentient) Cloudy 2 guarantees that, no matter what the script is like, it will have the visual flair and in-jokes to keep you tittering. The joke about the leak (leek) in the car/boat does not get old enough to not raise a laugh the second time around and the constant slew of Foodimal-based punnery (Sasquash, Shrimpanzee, Watermelophant) peppers the visuals and script with constant simple delights. It's a joy to be back in this world: recognisable and developed in equal measure.
The script does though show signs of not quite being as well developed as its predecessor. Earl (Terry Crews, replacing Mr. T) has nothing as funny as his contact lens 'I have my eye on you' speech and is more reliant on being slightly louder than last time. In fact, there is definitely a fall-back here on making something loud if it's not quite funny enough to get a laugh. Flint (Bill Hader) screaming at the talking strawberry is funny, but it isn't exactly clever and just in case you miss the leek joke, the leek himself is there to cry in alarm at you. There's nothing here that's quite as well designed as the last film's laugh-out-loud sequences; the final chicken fight or Flint's Dad (James Caan) trying to use a computer.
The villain (Will Forte's Chester V) is a much better development, clearly riffing off the fashionable tech-savvy allure of, mainly, Apple and other leading industry giants. Chester's corporate elitism and intellectual strip-mining plays well against the slightly anarchic style of Cloudy 2 as a whole and, whilst he does show up implausibly during the conclusion, it is probably a good idea for the film not to attempt something quite as out there as the first effort's nightmarish chickens.
The greater focus on heart might hide some of the corporate cynicism (and lets not forget this is ultimately a film made with Sony money, no matter how liberal the main talents) but this is still hugely more entertaining than many animated sequels. Just look at the mass critical shoulder shrug in the general direction of Rio 2 compared to the delights this offers.