From the visual smorgasbord -- especially Lockwood's secret laboratory where such electronic gimmicks of the 1980s "Simon" game and an Atari joystick create the "Tron" look -- to the food jokes, the movie worked for all ages.
The sequel, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2," comes across like eating leftovers.
There's still some pleasure out of the reheated dish, but it lacks the appeal of the original.
"Meatballs" picks up on the island where all of the culinary madness started.
Food items are evolving into living creatures such as Shrimpanzes and Flamangos. The fear is the creatures will learn to swim and become a threat to the mainland.
Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), the wide-eyed inventor behind the original food fight, is recruited by mega-billionaire inventor Chester V (Will Forte) to find the source of the food transformations.
With the aid of his friends and family, Lockwood sets off on a "Jurassic Park"-style adventure.
The script -- by five different writers -- bounces between trying to re-create "Jurassic Park" scenes using fruits, vegetables and meats to food-inspired puns.
Variety among gourmet gags are so limited, one pun about there being a "leek in the boat" gets repeated.
The jokes become as stale as week-old bread, plus there's no way a young audience is going to pick up on 99 percent of them.
The only pun that seems to resonate through all demographics is a line about having to "cut the cheese."
The film also pokes fun at corporate America. Those scenes are too mature for youngsters and wear thin quickly for adults.
Directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn give the film the frantic pace and bright colors needed to keep the attention of kids.
There are no major problems with "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2." There's also nothing very original or entertaining about this sequel.
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" (2½ stars)
Jokes in this lackluster sequel are over the head of youngsters and not funny for adults. Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Faris, James Caan and Terry Crews voice the characters.
Rating: PG for crude humor.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Olympic, Stanwood, Pacific Place, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Blue Fox Drive-in and Cascade Mall.
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