LADY AND THE TRAMP II
Reviewed April 8th, 2001 by Brian White
Disney knows you have extra money somewhere, and they won't stop until they have all of it! That's the impression that all of these direct-to-video follow ups to their animated classics give to this consumer. Sure, don't give us a Lion King DVD; give us Lion King II. We do have Lady and the Tramp on DVD, but instead of releasing a movie we want, Disney has outsourced the animation (the film was produced in Australia) on a sequel to grab a quick buck on a direct-to-video release. Upon looking at the package, at least on DVD, you soon recognize that there is a real effort to give you value for your money. All in all, if you have children, this is an excellent movie, and Disney has put lots of quality bonus material on the disc as well.
Lady and the Tramp is certainly a Disney classic. Being a popular animated feature from the fifties, it has become, to a certain degree, part of our culture. The familiarity of the spaghetti scene alone attests to the film's popularity. Judging by the wonderful documentary included on the disc, Disney tried their best to follow up on the magic. Cynics among us might balk at the obvious Disney formula to the story, but the kids sitting around the TV are really going to dig this cartoon. Nothing sells quite like puppies, so the heroes are puppies: Scamp, the son of Lady and the Tramp, and Angel, the stray dog that he meets. Basically, Scamp is sick of his wonderful home life, and yearns for the freedom of the street. He runs away and becomes a street dog, only to realize his father's past. Then, he becomes a Jedi, or something. Well, maybe not a Jedi, but try to hold back the tears when they start talking about family and sing those cute songs by Norman Gimbel and Melissa Manchester. This is a good looking, cute movie that despite its blatant commercial nature has some heart.
The animation here is similar to more recent Disney efforts. It is a combination of traditionally animated characters and some computer-animated objects. This was done to great effect in Beauty and the Beast, but here it is sometimes a little distracting. There's something weird about watching the truck move. This is made more obvious when you compare it to the hand-animated truck movements in the original, as seen in the documentary.
How does it look? Fantastic. The anamorphic, 1.66:1 transfer is beautiful. The artwork and look of the film is based on the colorful, Victorian palette from the first film. The movie is quite beautiful in places, especially in the establishing shot of the town.
For audio, Disney has provided both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and the DTS track sounds better. Basically, both are very rich and deep. This isn't a very dynamic surround mix, but the music and sound effects are quite nice. .
For extras, this disc boasts some very special material. There is a screen specific commentary from director Darell Rooney, director and producer Jeannine Roussel, and animation director Steve Trenbirth. All three love this project, and the original, so it's great to hear their observations of the film. The included documentary is a wonderful look at the making of the original film, hosted by Walt Disney himself, edited together with information about the current film. Animators from both films discuss their art. You see the computer stuff from the current film, as well as the hand-drawings and cells from the original picture. Any fan of animation will love this featurette. As with the Dinosaur disc, there's a game on the disc, which involves poking at the remote to find the dogs, which is kind of cute. This disc brings animated menus to a new, and very Disney-esque level, and rounding out an already rich package are three classic Pluto cartoons. Money spent here is spent wisely.
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