|Lady and the Tramp II - Scamp's Adventure|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 27 February 2001|
Agreeable if uninspiring, "Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure" should please small, dog-loving children. Grown-ups who tune in will mainly be impressed by the care the animators have taken to reproduce various aspects of the 1955 original.
Disney animation fans will of course recall that "Lady and the Tramp" was the story of a star-crossed romance between proper cocker spaniel Lady and wrong-side-of-the-tracks mutt Tramp. Despite seemingly overwhelming odds, all turned out happily, with Tramp being adopted by Lady’s family (two humans who the dogs assume are named "Jim Dear" and "Darling"). At the end, Darling had a little baby boy, while Lady had a litter of pups.
Although in movie-goer time it’s been 46 years, in screen time, the new movie picks up six months later. One of the great advantages of animation is that the onscreen performers haven’t aged out of their roles, although Lady (voice of "Little Mermaid’s" Jodi Benson) looks slightly more matronly and Tramp (voice of Jeff Bennett) has matured – in a Disney movie, parenthood will do that to a dog. Their offspring consist of three (slightly prissy) little females who all look like mom and Scamp (voice of Scott Wolf), who looks just like Dad as a pup. Unlike the rest of his family, Scamp is not happy about living in a house and abiding by the rules – he wants to be "a junkyard dog." Tramp hasn’t told the kids about his own disreputable past as a stray and Scamp sees his father as a sell-out. When Scamp gets out of the yard, he hooks up with a junkyard pack headed up by the bullying Buster (voice of Chazz Palmintieri). Scamp falls for feisty Angel (voice of Alyssa Milano), but will he wise up and head for home before it’s too late?
The message about the importance of family is laid out in fairly broad terms, so that little ones should be able to absorb (albeit not necessarily consciously) the analogy between Tramp’s adherence to the house rules and a real parent’s obligation to go to work in the morning. Depicting Scamp as a rebellious adolescent has its ups and downs. Kids will identify with him, but he’s so callow that he doesn’t have the personality of his dad in the first film.
The movie seems much more interesting (at least, for most adults) when viewed with the audio commentary track from director Darrell Rooney, co-director/producer Jeannine Roussel and animation director Steve Trenbirth. The commentary track comes in surprisingly dimensional stereo, putting the trio up close and personal for the listener. Through chance, the three filmmakers have very distinctive voices, so it’s easy to know who’s speaking at any given moment.
The songs are decent if unmemorable. The big soaring ballad, "A World Without Fences," comes in Chapter 5, while a comedy ragtime number in Chapter 8, "Junkyard Society Rag," is equipped with some good ambient sound effects in the mains. The rears are employed intermittently, giving us sense of being surrounded by fireworks in Fourth of July segments in Chapters 16 and 21, but although they carry music during the songs, they’re underutilized for the most part. The songs have a slightly quaint flavor – although the mix carries through the sound system, the musical numbers sound almost like well-produced cast albums for stage productions.
The DVD also comes with a making-of, several vintage canine-themed cartoons and an interactive game. It further includes trailers for other Disney films but, blessedly, each trailer has its own chapter, so that they can be bypassed (although there doesn’t seem to be a way to skip over them entirely to get to the film).
"Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure" in fact bounds around a little like its hero, with a pinch of coming-of-age, a dash of romance, a few songs and a few jokes, including elements of various genres without committing to being anything in particular. It lacks the delighted sense of invention that permeated its forebear and it doesn’t have the self-assurance of the original’s romance. It’s pleasant, but it doesn’t feel as if it has much life of its own.