'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' was a delightfully oddball comedic gem, a perfect mix of boldly colorful animation and 'SNL' humor. The writing/directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who also paired to direct '21 Jump Street,' created a wonderfully inventive world based around the guts of Judi and Ron Barrett's original children's book. It was surprisingly relevant and intoxicatingly quirky. The second film in the series couldn't miss, right? Well, that's not entirely accurate.
It's a given that a comedy as quotable, and memorable, as the first 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' movie will reuse or repurpose some of its old material. Though you know you're in trouble when the pre-credit sequence states "Another film by a lot of people." When "A film by a lot of people" flew across the screen in the first movie it caused involuntary laughter. The second time around, when "Another film by a lot of people" popped up on the screen it caused nervous laughter. Uh oh, they're already reusing the same jokes and the movie hasn't even started.
Understandably this is a kid's movie. But that's too often the justification for producing a movie that simply rides the coattails of its predecessor without bringing anything new to the table. As we learn at the start of the movie, it's been about eight minutes since Flint (Bill Hader) and Sam (Anna Faris) saved the world by dismantling the FLDSMDFR. With an apocalypse of gargantuan food raining down on humanity diverted, the world turns to cleaning up the mess. Chester V (Will Forte), the world's most famous scientist of all things sciency is called in to do the honors. It just so happens that Chester V is Flint's lifelong idol.
Everyone's seen the trailers, and knows exactly what happens in 'Cloudy 2'. The food has evolved into "foodimals." "Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously…" thank you Dr. Ian Malcolm for those fortuitous words of wisdom. Who knew they would be explaining the reason why cheeseburgers with French fry legs are now attacking humans?
Flint and the gang are whisked away from Swallow Falls for a brief time, allowing the movie to delve into a somewhat original storyline that provides some new jokes. It lightly pokes fun at "hip" places to work like Google and Pixar. However, once Flint and his friends are back in Swallow Falls, attempting once again to hunt down the FLDSMDFR the jokes devolve into one food pun after another. There's only so much you can do with food puns until, well, the older people in the audience might start checking out.
The animation is first rate. It's one of the most colorfully detailed animated movies you'll ever see. Your eyes are never left wanting. It's certainly a visual feast, please pardon the food metaphors. Anyway, 'Cloudy 2' really is a sight, but the story and its humor – both of which excelled in the first movie – just never cleared the bar set by 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.' Also, that surprisingly human element at the end of the first movie, as Flint and his dad have their moment, is curiously missing from this one as well.
While 'Cloudy 2' will entertain the wee ones in the family, the adults may find it lacking when it comes to originality. Not only does it reuse jokes from the first movie, it rarely tries to put a new spin on them. I suppose I could use the term "stale" here, but again, enough with the food analogies, right? I do love the animation though. There's so much to look at. So much color and life to take in, it almost overshadows the lacking screenplay. Almost.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Sony release. It comes in a standard 2-disc release with a 50GB Blu-ray and a DVD. A code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy is also included. A booklet of shameless promotions, coupons, and other things is a part of the package. This is a region free release. It comes complete with a cardboard slipcover.
Perfection! Across the board perfection. Seriously. Sony's 1080p presentation of 'Cloudy 2' provides the very best platform for this wonderful animation. Bursting colors, bold lines, and beautiful lighting. It's all here. A demo quality presentation through and through.
Oh, so you need a few examples? Okay then, I guess I can provide you with that. The detail here is phenomenal. Check out the way the Swallow Falls jungle seems completely endless. There's no shortage of detail in the plants, the food, and the people. The colors are out-of-this-world vivid. I never tired of looking at the seemingly endless array of color parading across the screen. That wide shot when Flint and crew realize just how many foodimals there are is as well rendered as any of the magnificent wide shots shown in 'Monsters University.'
I didn't notice any artifacts this time around. I know in my review of the first movie I noted that there was some slight banding here and there. With the second installment, I didn't see any sign of any sort of banding. Aliasing, crushing, and any other unsightly artifact also went entirely unseen. One of the best looking discs you'll buy all year. I'm pretty sure of that.
Almost as punchy is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Sony provides for this release. It's a full-bodied presentation without a hiccup to announce. The first movie had demo-quality sound and this one follows suit.
The soundscape is as lively as ever. Once they're back on the island, surrounded by a jungle of animals made of food, there isn't a moment where the surround sound channels aren't engaged. The rear speakers are definitely worked out as much as possible. There's a clarity provided in the rear channel sound that resonates. Specific animal noises, and jungle ambiance is heard throughout the movie. LFE is also a major component here. There are plenty of scenes that call for low, rumbling bass and this mix delivers very well.
The dialogue is clean. Directionality is perfectly accurate throughout. The side speakers pick up directional speaking. Pans are seamlessly integrated, moving around the soundfield without hesitation. In short, this audio mix is every bit as exciting as the video.
'Cloudy 2' is far too derivative of the first to be considered great. Does it have funny parts? Some. Many of its jokes flat line, which is a shame. It's a real beauty to look at though. The animation design is marvelous. Really it is. With demo audio and video this still becomes a disc that I'd recommend any high-def consumer own. Even if the movie isn't up to par as far as the first is considered, at least it looks and sound amazing, right?