Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is vivid colourful and hilarious

Pixar has a proven knack for existential tearjerkers whether you’re worried that your favourite gang of toys is about to face a fiery death or watching an old widower face a life of horrible loneliness. Dreamworks for its part has made a mint off of Mike Meyers’ horrendous Scottish accent and Eddie Murphy’s incessant bleating while cramming awkward sexual innuendos into half-baked fairy tales.

For the last few years it seemed that heartstring manipulation and crass easy jokes were the only two options. Thankfully with Sony Pictures’ efforts behind the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs series we’ve got a new franchise with a distinct new voice.

The first Meatballs film which came out in 2009 was a surprise because while it looked like a standard Sunday-afternoon-nap of a kids movie from afar it was packed with jokes and had a wildly original story to boot (based on Judi and Ron Barrett’s book of the same name).

The story followed a fledgling child inventor named Flint Lockwood (played with heartfelt sweetness by SNL sweetheart Bill Hader) who developed a machine called the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator” (or FLDSMDFR) that could transform water into any sort of food — just type in cheeseburger and it pops out. The machine eventually loses control threatening the world with a mountain of food that’s also taken on a mind of its own.

Everything gets relatively sorted or so you’d think — in the sequel we learn that the residents of food-covered town Swallow Falls are forced to leave while it’s cleaned up. In comes Chester V (the reliably great Will Forte) an obviously evil scientist and head of the Live Corp Company who offers to clean up the town and gives Lockwood a job in his think-tank.

The story’s too convoluted to fully describe here but Chester V essentially wants to steal and copy the FLDSMDFR for his own use and ends up sending Lockwood — along with a hilarious ragtag crew that includes his dad Tim (James Caan) his girlfriend Sam (Anna Faris) his best friend Brent (Andy Samberg) his monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) news cameraman Manny (Benjamin Bratt) and scene-stealing cop Earl (Terry Crews) — back to the island.

Soon enough we learn that the island has turned into a food-based Jurassic Park with edible animals dominating the grounds. There are hilarious creatures ranging from “shrimpanzees” to “hungry tacodile supremes” and countless others. As it unfolds the gang tests relationships foils the plans of corrupt big business and develops empathy for a new ecosystem.

If it sounds like standard family movie fare that’s because it is. The reason Meatballs 2 is a must-see however is because it’s done so much better. Visually this is an eye-popping experience with bright colourful backdrops inventive characters and elastic fantastical animation that tips its hat to Looney Tunes and John Kricfalusi instead of rigid rendering programs.

Further this movie is absolutely hilarious. Outside of the bizarre and entertaining concept the script has been punched up numerous times to the point where nearly every scene ends with a top-notch joke. Credit that to the writers including Phil Lord and Chris Miller (of Clone High and 21 Jump Street ) alongside Horrible Bosses team Jonathan Goldstein and John Frances Daley (the latter of whom also starred as Sam in Freaks and Geeks ).

By the end of the film you’ll have laughed and gazed in wonder at the vivid colours and wild storyline and leave feeling completely satisfied. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is in fact a perfect family film.