Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Double Bill

Turning up in 2009 with an unwieldy and uninformative title, the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs film (hereafter known as CWACOM) turned out to be an unexpected delight. Based on the book by Judi & Ron Barrett, it is set on the island of Swallow Falls and focuses on Flint Lockwood, an enthusiastic young scientist who invents the the "Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator" (FLDSMDFR for short), a machine which turns water into food. Naturally, things spiral out of control in time-honoured science-goes-wrong fashion and it is up to Flint to save the day, as well as win the approval of his technophobe father and the heart of sassy weather girl Sam. However, that brief recap doesn't really capture just how inventive, bright and laugh-out loud funny the film is, particularly as the plot develops in gloriously silly ways to include a giant mutant meatball and a man in a chicken suit fighting mutant chickens. It's perhaps a bit too frenetic for its own good and the Day-Glo brightness of it all might induce a migraine or two, but whereas most animated features struggle to deliver one moral message, this manages to get four or five across in the midst of all the madness. Great fun.

All of this translated into a healthy box office hit, so it was only a matter of time before CWACOM 2 came along. This time, it riffs on monster movies like King Kong and Jurassic Park as our heroes from the first film return to Swallow Falls to find it has been transformed into a forbidding Food Jungle, full of wild 'Foodimals'. Now, regular readers will know I'm not a man for puns, but one can only imagine the pun-tastic brainstorming sessions in the creative process which came up with creatures like Flamangoes, Cantelopes and Tacodiles. That's where most of the fun comes from this time round, since the plot is less engaging, centred around Flint's seduction by cool scientific company LiveCorp and its owner Chester V, a thinly veiled pastiche of the likes of Apple and Google. There's plenty of action and it's still good fun, but without the novelty and emotional depth of the original. I'd give it twix out of ten.

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