Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)

(On Cable TV, August 2014) Given how much I liked the original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, it’s no surprise that I found the sequel underwhelming –but when underwhelming merely means “enjoyable to watch” as compared to “you should see this, no really”, then it’s not much of a demotion.  Picking up moments after the end of the first film (but with added back-story weaved into the recap), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 goes wilder than its predecessor in presenting an island filled with sentient food creatures, with punny names from Cheespider to Shrimpanzees.  Many of the previous film’s characters are back in this second serving, starting with the lead couple.  It’s in considering the addition of a human villain that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 seems more ordinary than the first film: The villain’s actions are transparent enough to evoke comparison with bad sitcoms, and once you start thinking about the premise, the addition of sentient food creatures raises a number of questions (“What determines what can be eaten?” being one of the first ones) that can’t be satisfactorily answered within the context of a fast-paced family comedy.  Still, despite those nagging questions, there’s no denying the visual richness of the results: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is bright, colorful, packed with movement (at times, a bit too much for a first viewing –there seems to be freeze-frame details packed in every other shot) and showcases a rolling parade of gags.  Several of them land effectively, leading to a succession of smiles from beginning to end.  As a family film, it’s not too bad: funny, optimistic, paced quickly enough to reward multiple viewings… it could have been much worse.  It’s no shame if it doesn’t quite reach the level of its predecessor.

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