Disney has developed a penchant for sequels. Although they aren’t all theater quality, like Toy Story 2, some of them manage to deliver good messages. While the animated sequel to the 1961 classic, 101 Dalmatians, a direct-to-video release that debuted Tuesday, is a cute story designed for kids and delivers a positive message, it is not for lovers of the original.
101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, follows one of the 101 pups as he struggles to meet his idol, Thunderbolt, the Wonder Dog, and prove that he is “one of a kind.” Patch is a cute, precocious little puppy who is often overlooked in a house overrun with spots.
However, when he is left behind on moving day, Patch decides to find Thunderbolt and audition to be on his show.
The story teaches some of the same morals that are evident in dozens of Disney movies: heroes are never as wonderful in real life as they are in the movies, and everything the main character is searching for has always been inside him or her.
The DVD offers numerous extras including a game, “Lost in London,” which requires players to answer questions about London in order to help the heroes. It also offers educational shorts about such famous London landmarks as Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. There is also “Thunderbolt: An Inside Look,” which takes viewers on a self-guided tour of Thunderbolt’s dressing room. Additionally, there are two videos performed by pop singers who haven’t made it yet, but with Disney’s help will no doubt be on top of the charts in a few months.
The movie is populated with some of the same characters as the original, including Cruella De Vil, her henchmen, Horace and Jasper, Roger, Anita and the puppies’ parents Pongo and Perdita.
New characters include Lars, an artist Cruella enlists to make “art” out of the puppies, and Lil’ Lightning, Thunderbolt’s misunderstood sidekick. While these new characters are voiced by veteran comedians Martin Short and Jason Alexander, the weak story and script do nothing to showcase their talents.
Undoubtedly, kids will watch 101 Dalmatians II and think it’s wonderful. But for adults who remember the original, it will be a flat duplication of a classic that didn’t need a sequel.
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