Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs II continues more or less where the first left off. The story resumes a short time after the end of the first film, that I saw (and reviewed) just a little while ago. I was right to obtain the video to the first film, as there’s a lot in the second film that isn’t easily intelligible without the first one.
As with the first film, yes there’s lots for children to enjoy. But there’s also a great deal that likely goes over their heads, subtle meanings making reference to other films & aspects of modern culure, including products & logos.
Where the moral of the first film seemed to promote sustainability while decrying the excesses of our commercialized civilization, Meatballs II seems to go in a different direction.
Yes there’s symbolism. But there’s a very specific target of the satire, and it’s no longer about our excesses. Instead the film targets a particular corporate culture.
I am mindful of Jobs, another film celebrating a particularly nerdy flavour of the American dream. You’ll recall that Meatballs I concerned an inventor whose creations backfire. Technology in that world is a mixed blessing that (literally) promises pie in the sky unless all that pie buries us when it falls on us.
In Meatballs II we see a different understanding of technology & invention. Where the first film is an inspirational tale of pure nerdiness & creativity, the second film is much darker, suggesting heroes & villains, good guys & bad guys.
And the bad guys are clearly a recognizable brand, namely Apple & their guru Steve Jobs, shown as a phony new-age guru who may mouth “Namaste”, but doesn’t walk the talk. Oh no. He’s evil through and through. We see a kind of idea factory that recruits our inventor hero Flint Lockwood, but only for the purpose of stealing his ideas.
We see visual flamboyance as in the first film, but the humour is often lame. And yes, there’s this odd attack on Apple. If I didn’t know better I’d be wondering: who stands to benefit from this. If the film had been made by the competition (HP or Microsoft) it would be totally explicable, a cartoon version of an attack ad. I am reminded of Apple’s ads mocking the PC. Perhaps this is karma?
The thing in the film that I liked best is a tune by Paul Mccartney. And yes, the film is flamboyant visually. But where the first film had an integrity that made it feel like a healthy meal, this time my tummy doesn’t feel quite so good.
Sigh, so maybe I shouldn’t have asked for seconds. I had more than enough meatballs the first time.