Animated film (2013). Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures. Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. Written by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M Goldstein and Erica Rivinoja, based on story by Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Rivinoja. Cast includes Anna Faris, Will Forte and Bill Hader. 95 minutes. Colour.
The fact that original directors and writers Lord and Miller only return as executive producers with a story credit would usually spell danger, particularly given the directorial inexperience of Cameron and Pearn. However, of the three sequels to well-loved animated Children's SF films released in 2013, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 beats both Monsters University (see Monsters, Inc.) and Despicable Me 2 (see Despicable Me) on jokes, innovation and sf content.
Having destroyed his hometown in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint Lockwood (Hader) is relocated with the rest of the inhabitants of the now quarantined Island of Swallow Falls to San Franjose. There he lands a job for Chester V (Forte), his childhood idol and CEO of Live Corp. This allows for ample Satire of the "we're not evil, honest" California Technology industry, specifically Apple and its messianic founder Steve Jobs; Lockwood is put to work in a wage-slave cubicle – the Edisonade ideal subverted by capitalism – whilst V surrounds himself with multiple holographic AI Doppelgangers (see Utopias; Dystopias).
When V needs a patsy to go back to Swallow Falls for his own nefarious reasons, Lockwood is the obvious candidate and he, of course, invites all his friends from the first film, including (utterly chaste) love interest Sam Sparks (Faris). On their return, they find the island Ecology transformed into a free-range food-based version of Isla Nublar from Jurassic Park (1993) crossed with the day-glow colours of Pandora in Avatar (2009). Against this background of Genetic Engineering run amok and vegetables as Dinosaurs (see Evolution), there is plenty of room for other references to genre Cinema and use of SF tropes. But most of the running time is devoted to chaotic Humour, ranging from awful puns and wonderfully silly gags for children of all ages to more sophisticated treats such as a pitch-perfect Tom Waits pastiche (see Music). A messy, hyperactive delight. [ML]
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