|Lady and the Tramp II - Scamp's Adventure (Limited Issue)|
|Written by Dan Macintosh|
|Tuesday, 20 June 2006|
“Lady And The Tramp II” is an animated ‘like father, like son scenario’ and The Prodigal Son story, rolled into one animated film. Its plot revolves around Scamp, son of that famous Disney character, Tramp. Scamp doesn’t know how good he has at home with Lady and Tramp, that is until he decides to venture into the cold outside world. But the way Scamp sees it, his life is all rules and no freedom.
Scamp’s last straw comes when his owner insists that he take a bath. But he’s sick of being told what to do; he just wants to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. This frustration gives him the notion to run away and find “A World Without Fences,” as one of the film’s songs states. A maddening series of events convinces him of his need to get away: He’s interrupted while playing with his dad, and warned by his owner about making a mess. He messes up his master’s hat while playing with the baby, Junior. Lastly, he makes a big mess when fetching a ball with Junior, which ends up dirtying three other house dogs—just after their baths.
Like that underappreciated Prodigal Son in the Bible, Scamp complains, “I always get blamed for everything.” He also whines, “I just don’t feel like I belong here.” Finely, he asks, understandably, “What good are teeth or claws, when you can never use them?”
After leaving home, Scamp hooks up with Buster, a Junkyard Dog and former street friend to his dad. When Buster proudly wears the hat he’s just stolen from the dogcatcher, Scamp sees this hooligan’s gang life as his destiny. “Junkyard dogs rule this town, and Buster rules the junkyard dogs!” Buster boasts. At first, this unrestrictive life feels like heaven to Scamp. In the junkyard, he finds many of the same furnishings that were also back home—albeit dirtier ones—where he can jump on and chew them to his heart’s content.
Scamp appears well on his way to passing a Junkyard Dog initiation test of sorts; that is until he gets locked in the pound. It’s then that his true family comes to rescue him, and Scamp realizes loyal family is of much greater value than personal freedom.
It’s a simple and familiar story. But then again, most kid’s movies—especially Disney films—are predictable this way. Disney is famous for taking a story, almost any story, and Disney-fying it. I once attended The Groundlings improv comedy show when one of its sketches involved taking a famous novel suggestion from the audience, and then acting this story out in Disney fashion. I yelled out “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyevsky, and dang if they didn’t pull off an improvised mini-musical that looked and sounded just like a Disney movie! Typical Disney films take time-tested stories, and then plug in child-ready humor and morals. This latest Disney film may be a new story, but there’s nothing particularly original about it.
Instead of imagining what the life would be like for Lady and Tramp after their initial adventures together, this film dumbs it down to include a couple of new young ones. These pups are obviously intended to appeal to the youngest members of Disney’s demographic. Sadly, there’s no humor meant for adults, which highlights how much we’ve all been spoiled by Pixar.
The movie’s only small attempt at humor is provided by Don Knotts’ dogcatcher character. But he’s relegated to acting flustered and stupid, and doesn’t have one memorable line. In fact, the dialogue is straight and narrow, from start to finish, without any funny or fun side roads.
Of course, there is a puppy love interest. Scamp immediately falls for the sweet young thing, Angel. We learn that Buster incorrectly believes Angel to be his girl, but she would certainly beg to differ. Soon after Scamp befriends Angel, she calls him Tender Foot when he tries to prove his non-existent junkyard dog credentials to her. It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to predict that Scamp and Angel will end up together, and that they’ll also return to live at home with Lady and Tramp. Angel’s hard luck life story helps convince Scamp that the junkyard life is not a good life. She’s been passed from family to family, like a canine orphan. Unlike Scamp, all she really wants is a peaceful home again. The plot never incorporates any unusual twists to put this foregone conclusion into doubt.
Watching this dog family interact brings to mind ‘50s TV sitcoms. It’s a stereotypical nuclear set, which is plain and colorless. We all know that individuality is what makes each person interesting, yet there are no such discernable character traits found in these simplistic animated figures. But if some these characters had a few flaws, even its dogs would come off more human.
This film’s music is good, although it’s nothing special. There are five vocal numbers, beginning with the opening “Welcome Home,” and closing with “Always There.” The singing is passable, but not noteworthy. Chazz Palminteri, whose rough-voiced speech is perfectly suited for his king of the junkyard dog dialogue, is hard on the ears whenever he sings. It makes you glad he only has one song in the film. The overall sound is good, and the mostly orchestrated instrumental music is fitting for this lighthearted tale.
The look of the animation is just as plain as the plot, the dialogue and the music. In contrast, some of the scenes in “The Lion King,” such as ones that captured the magnificently large scope of jungle life, were positively cinematic. Granted, this small New England town can’t—and shouldn’t—compete visually with Africa’s mighty jungle. But it could have looked much better. Only during a scene when fireworks go off to celebrate July 4th does this film look and sound larger than life. When the big, exploding flowers burst into expanding colors, it’s as if the local high school fireworks show is going on right there in your living room.
This is the kind of DVD that makes you ask why. Why go through all the trouble of writing a script, composing songs, and putting it all into living color animation when there’s no compelling story to tell? Insightful young minds may get the point from its storyline that there’s no place like home. But I doubt it. They’ll be slightly entertained by the sight of cute dogs romping around, but most adults will zone out and tune it off.