Cloudy-with-a-Chance-of-Meatballs-2-BannerReleased in 2011, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was an unmitigated success for Sony Pictures Animation. It’s hardly a surprise then that a little over two years later, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is upon us. With new directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn taking over the reins from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the sequel is as appealing and visually imaginative as its predecessor. Sadly, the same can’t be said for an unfocused narrative that’s not quite as clever as it thinks it is.

With Swallow Falls in a state of disrepair following the disastrous food storm caused by an out-of-control invention, Flint (Bill Hader), Sam (Anna Faris) and his friends and forced to leave their hometown for San Franjose, California. There, Flint accepts an invitation to become a Live Corp employee by its CEO, Chester V (Will Forte). His first task is to return to Swallow Falls and locate the FLDSMDFR before any more damage is done – or so he thinks.

Picking up directly after the events of the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 continues the story in amiable fashion. The narrative this time around, however, isn’t nearly as cunning or as meaningful. There’s little in terms of development here, with Flint the only real character to be fleshed out (the supporting characters are kept to the background). It’s unclear whether the intention was to keep the sequel as close to its predecessor as possible, but its humble nature sort of feels like a detriment to the leaps taken previously.

But once the initial disappointment has faded (and that’s pretty quick considering how lively the whole thing is), it becomes clear how satisfying it is to see Flint and his friends back for another adventure. It helps too that the pace doesn’t let up and that gags are thrown around right, left and centre in quick succession. If one fails to make you chuckle, then it doesn’t matter as there’ll be another one moments later that’ll be sure to catch you off guard and make you howl even louder, most of which involve Flint’s monkey sidekick Steve.

As much as the narrative is inferior, that was never the heart of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in the first place. Rather, it’s the animation that reigned supreme. Thankfully, it’s a similar case here. The design is out-of-this-world, not only seen through the environments established, from the clean, crisp lines of Live Corp’s state-of-the-art headquarters to the messiness of Swallow Falls, but also through the sheer inventiveness of the foodimals.

Despite a few disappointments here and there, the team responsible for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 have done themselves proud. From the rat-a-tat dialogue fired between the characters to the striking visuals and the enthusiastic voice performances (Hader, Faris and Fotre are particularly great), this is a film that, while it may not ever truly validate its need for existence against its forerunner, is a delightful extension of the world audiences fell head-over-heels in love with.