Meatballs 2 is good fun but lacks the freshness, spontaneity and zaniness of the original.
'''REVIEW: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (G)
Judi and Ron Barrett's beloved children's picture book was a kooky, colourful surprise hit in 2009.
It saw brilliant young inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) build a machine that turned water into food and wound up creating delicious yet disastrous weather.
There were spaghetti twisters, jelly clouds and meatball hail, all in vivid Technicolor and 3-D. It seemed so yummy you wanted to lick the screen.
In this inevitable yet welcome sequel, new directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn haven't thought up a more imaginative title than the obligatory "2".
And that's pretty indicative of this bright, bubbly yet largely uninspired sequel, which seems to lack the crackle and pop of its charming, winsome original. Not that there aren't some memorable moments.
This time, Flint (Hader) wins a coveted job inventing for Chester V (Will Forte), a Steve Jobs-style guru who runs a sleek Google-like tech company.
But working nine-to-five proves a grind for young Flint, who is just a kid after all (which the movie conveniently ignores).
So when Flint learns that his old invention has led to his island town being overrun with animal-food hybrids, he teams up with his old pals Sparks (Anna Faris), Brent (Andy Samberg), Manny (Benjamin Bratt) and his dad (James Caan) to stop the outbreak.
Despite the stodgy first act, Meatballs 2 clicks quickly into gear when Flint and co go back to the island and encounter crazy new animal-food combos such as flamangos, shrimpanzees and susheep.
This, of course, sets the tone for a McDonald's-meets-Jurassic Park style plot, where the kids are inevitably put in danger amid marauding spider-burgers and snapping taco-diles.
The scares come as quick as the gags, such as the leak in their boat (cut to an actual leek in a boat).
It's another light, bright, gastronomic delight, with more vividly animated food creatures conjured up from the minds of many young creative types, no doubt, and it's all geared towards toy lines that are sure to come.
But story-wise, Meatballs 2 is as uninspiring as that "2" in the title. Chester gives Flint a "BS USB" to plug into his water-to-food device, and clearly has nefarious intentions.
But how many kids will get the "BS" acronym? It will hopefully go over their heads, as will the plot leaps and references to Google, Apple and Steve Jobs.
Meatballs 2 is good fun but lacks the freshness, spontaneity and zaniness of the original. Without wanting to be too cynical, a more fitting title might be Reheated Meatballs with No Chance of Part 3.