"101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure" (Special Edition) isn’t entirely a separate story from the original 101 Dalmatians. Picking up where the first film left off, "101 Dalmatians II" focuses less on the relationship between dog owners, Roger and Anita (the fabulous Jodi Benson provides her voice here, Ariel) and more on the Dalmatians, especially one in particular–Patch. The story opens in Dalmatian-Disney fashion with a lovely voice over from canine dad, Pongo (Samuel West) catching the audience up where the previous film left off. It’s nice to see that the film (made in 2003) kept the original hand drawn animation look that made the original 101 so appealing. It’s a nice, nostalgic touch especially in a time of 3D computer animation. So where exactly does the story head after the original? To the Dalmatian Plantation, a country farm where the family can live free from any thoughts of the wicked dog snatcher, Cruella De Vil.
Before the move to the country, it becomes quite obvious that Patch (Bobby Lockwood) feels all alone amongst the many, many, many puppies that occupy the house. After watching his favorite TV show about a courageous dog named Thunderbolt, Patch wants desperately to be one of a kind, just like his hero. An advertisement on the television looking for a one-of-a-kind dog to come to the set of Thunderbolt’s new adventures (and win a small part) leaves Patch eager and excited to go and meet the great Thunderbolt face to face. Of course, what one of many pups wants isn’t always what he gets, especially when he’s moving the very next day. That night, Patch worries he’s just “one of one hundred and one” and wanders off, falling asleep in the kitchen. He wakes in the morning to find he’s been left by the entire family and decides to go find Thunderbolt instead of trying to find his family.
It turns out that Thunderbolt (Barry Bostwick) is supposedly being written out of his TV series for a younger dog, so his sidekick Lightening (Jason Alexander) tries to come up with a plan to keep that from happening. The plan: have Thunderbolt do something heroic in the real world, like he does on the show. Of course, Lightening may be up to no good after all those years being Thunderbolt’s sidekick. Bostwick does a fantastic job portraying a star dog that really has no idea how to be heroic without a script, and Lockwood is perfect as the lonely Patch, who knows all of Thunderbolt’s moves and teaches him how to be heroic, or to at least try to be.
Meanwhile, across town Cruella De Vil (Susan Blakeslee) is trying to get furs, but can’t seem to get anyone to help her. While moping around the London streets in her beat-up car, she spots a canvas with one lone spot. She meets the artist, Lars (Martin Short) who takes him to see the rest of his work which is basically canvases covered in spots. No doubt, Cruella De Vil’s obsession with spots starts all over again.
There’s some adventure similar to "101 Dalmatians" involving Cruella De Vil and her accomplices and a few songs here and there that help fill out the 71 minute running time. While the story is fairly similar to the original, it is a nice difference to focus on one of the puppies, especially when the theme is something as familiar as feeling left out, and longing to be one of a kind. The relationship between Bostwick and Patch works well here, especially as they go on their way to help save Patch’s family who are, once again, being held captive by Cruella and crew. The new addition of Alexander as Lightening adds extra conflict and humor. And the teamwork between all the dogs is, as in the original, worth rooting for.
While not as good as "101 Dalmatians", "101 Dalmatians II: Pup’s London Adventure" is a lovely story of discovering where you belong in a world of so many, and how truly unique and important your role in that world can be. With terrific voice talents and nicely developed characters, "101 Dalmatians II: Pup’s London Adventure" is recommended for fans of the original and newcomers who are looking for an inspiring, sweet tale.
VIDEO: "101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure" presented by Disney in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. Despite the fact that the budget is not up to the usual for animated theatrical releases from Disney, the film looks a few steps above average animated direct-to-video fare. Characters have decent detail/animation and colors looked reasonably rich. Sharpness and detail are also first-rate on this smooth, crisp transfer.
A little bit of edge enhancement was the only concern spotted throughout the presentation. Pixelation was absent, while print flaws were not in evidence. The film's color palette also looked spot-on, with fine saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The film is offered with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The film's audio was an average "family-friendly" sound mix, with tame use of the surrounds and a fairly narrow spread across the front soundstage. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and crisp, full-sounding music.
Music & More
There are two music videos included on the Special Edition are: “You’re The One” by and “Try Again”. Both include clips from the film.
Games and Activities:
Thunderbolt: An Inside Look
Here, you get to go into Thunderbolt’s trailer and look around. In his trailer there is a link to “Thunderbolt Bloopers” which include a few animated outtakes from scenes in the movies. There’s also a brief fake advertisement for Thunderbolt action figures, powder, and one for dog biscuits. There’s also some spoof letters from other dogs read by Thunderbolt and a few other odds and ends that may appeal to a younger audience.
Patch’s Twilight Adventure
This is a game where you search for keys across London to help rescue the puppies from Cruella De Vil. There are clues to help you find your way to the keys. The game is setup like a map and the clues are miniature match-the-shapes puzzles. Once the clue is revealed, you guess where to go. At your destination you are given questions based on what you see/watch. Once you answer the question correctly, you get a key. There’s a narrator who helps by giving you the rules, telling you what to do, and offering some narrative along the way. Fun for younger children and, of course, kids at heart.
Lost in London
Patch’s brothers and sisters are lost, and you must help them by answering questions about London landmarks. You are given a question and three multiple choices. Once you pick the right answer you learn more facts and see real footage about the famous location. This game has some fun music while you think and is great and informative because it teaches you about famous places around London. This is great for older children.
Behind The Scenes “Dog-umentary”
Some scruffy, cute dogs take you to meet the directors Jim Kammerud and Brian Smith. They show you a story pitch and explain how pitching a scene works before it ever gets made. Then the dogs go to meet one of the animators who shows them how he works by hand drawing the puppy’s movements. They also meet artist/Art Director Bill Perkins who shows us how a background is designed. This is one of the more interesting processes to watch. We also get a behind the scenes look at the studio where we see some voice recording (including: Barry Bostwick, Martin Short, Jason Alexander, Susan Blakeslee, and Bobby Lockwood). Overall this is a quick, fun look at a few processes that make the movie come to life.
Final Thoughts: While the film certainly isn't up to the original, this is a basically enjoyable direct-to-vid animated effort. The DVD doesn't offer much in the way of extras, but audio/video quality are fine. This is a re-release of the original edition with the addition of the "Patch's Twilight Adventure" game. Those who didn't get a chance to buy the original release (which is now out-of-print) should pick this edition up, but those who have the original don't have enough of a reason to upgrade here.
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