Palatable at best, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is bland against its predecessor. For what the plot and characters lack in depth and flavour, it almost makes up for in vibrant and engaging (and at times overly exaggerated) animation, almost. Expect a few chuckles in this 95 minute movie, which arrives four years after its predecessor to once again bring a whole new meaning to the term “food fight”.

Cloudy 2 once again juxtaposes people with food, bringing both together in the colourful and bizarre island of Swallow Falls. Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) and friends return to the island on a mission to destroy his FLDSMDFR (the “Flint Lockwood’s Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator“) (now try saying that 5 times real quick), which now produces monstrous and dangerous “foodimals“.

What he doesn’t realise is that these food-animal hybrids are gentle, harmless creatures with families; they fight to protect themselves and survive against the real evil – humans. Thus where the young scientist had to once save the world from a wonky food-making machine that produced hefty humongous foods, he now has to make the difficult decision of completing his mission, or rescuing the FLDSMDFR and its endearing “foodimals” from an over-ambitious inventor.

To sum it up, a friend got it spot on, saying, “It was slapstick, but the writers are wildly imaginative, creating a literal feast for the eyes“. For comedic effect, the movie draws on exaggerated expressions and predictable humour, topping it off with a couple of puns, alliterations and overused idioms to deliver a movie that is now “deadly dangerous with a good chance of death“.

Favourite characters like Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), Tim Lockwood (James Caan) and Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) return, accompanied with a rather mild villain Chester V (Will Forte), his sidekick orangutan Barb (Kristen Schaal), and Barry the strawberry and family whose language is disappointingly uninspired and similar to that of the vastly popular minions of Despicable Me.

The Sony Pictures Animation though lacking in character development delivers well on action and imagination, transforming Swallow Falls into a Jurassic Park/Land Before Time jungle of “foodimals”. These creatures live in a world that is deliciously inventive, where monstrous cheespiders and supreme-sized tacodiles live alongside harmless hippopotatomus, flamangoes and shrimpanzees in technicolour wonder (which sadly doesn’t translate as well in 3D). And not forgetting the very lively and spirited Chester V, CEO of Live Corp and celebrated inventor of the Food Bar (he is now creating version 8.0 – sound familiar?), who bears a strong resemblance to Steve Jobs – except here he is also an amazingly flexible yoga guru.

With a food machine that has evolved from destroying the city to creating entire ecosystems, making Flint Lockwood the greatest scientist of all, the plot in this sequel continues rather seamlessly from the first. What it just lacks is seasoning and spice… or some horsemeat for meatballs, perhaps.

Video/Image credits: Sony Pictures Animation