Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (2001)Rated G.
Starring (the voices of) Scott Wolf, Alyssa Milano, Jodi Benson, Jeff Bennett, Bill Fagerbakke.
Picture ©Walt Disney Home Video. All rights reserved.
Least Offensive Sequel So Far
Let me get my complaints out of the way first. The main problems with Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure are that it was made without much of the original Lady and the Tramp's spirit in mind. It's probably much easier and justifiable to say that a sequel should never have been made at all; after all, plundering your own past successes to create modernized cash cows is in itself a distasteful task. However, if we're willing to look past that (and we might as well, since there seems to be no end in sight to the cheap-Disney-animated-movie sequel's factory assembly line), we can still harp on poorly thought out details. For one thing, the notion that every direct-to-video Disney sequel must have its own musical numbers is under its poorest justification ever in a sequel to Lady in the Tramp, a movie whose four musical numbers were done totally in character and not as if they were on Broadway. Scamp's Adventure manages to match this idea incorrectly immediately. For another thing, it doesn't have a wit of charming originality in it, instead opting for the overused by-the-numbers story of an alienated kid who discovers after a large misadventure that his/her parents were right all along. The original movie was a simple pampered-lady-meets-boy-from-wrong-side-of-the-tracks story with dogs; here in the sequel, part of that is in there, but it is totally overshadowed by the obvious preachy message Disney has used before. So much for possibly being surprised.
That said, Scamp's Adventure would have to be the least offensive of the Disney sequels made to date. This is mainly due to a better-than-usual attention to animation (with the exception of a few scenes) and some pleasing turns at characters both old and new. The animation speaks for itself; it even has a computer-animated vehicle which features prominently in the movie. The characters, for the most part, are obvious but likeable. Scamp, Angel, and Buster look nice, but I thought it was funnier to see Scamp's three silly sisters, who actually look and act differently from one another (at the end of Lady and the Tramp, they were relegated to being clones). You get to see more of Jim Dear and Darling, who were mostly faceless in the first movie (this might bother some people, but I personally don't care much for the hidden faces device, so...). Tramp is characterized with a lot of confidence all around. The monstrous dog who becomes a nemesis of Scamp's is scary, and the nutty dog in the pound is funny. The only standout weak characterizations were of Jock, who was only there to give Trusty grief, and, of all dogs, Lady, who saw little in screen time or dialogue.
Of course there were nods to conventions made famous in the first film, such as Trusty's faith in his tracking abilities and the brief mischievousness of the Siamese Cats. Actually, the reference I was most dreading was the rehash of the spaghetti scene, but that actually turned out to be pretty funny. Scamp starts by rolling the meatball over to Angel, as Tramp had done for Lady, but instead of romantically dining in a civil fashion, the two pups proceed to devour the pasta as if they were fighting over a kill. I was thankful that they didn't make the odes to its predecessor too sickening.
As for other aspects of the movie, I felt mixed about the voice-acting and some logical gaps. Some of the voices were actually pulled off well; Tramp's voice, by Jeff Bennett, in particular was a reasonable duplication of the original. However, I personally didn't take to Scott Wolf's voice characterization of Scamp. It sounded too overdone and actually began to annoy me. Also, there was the issue of the dog catcher (also Jeff Bennett) trying to sound too much like Don Knotts. If they wanted that type of voice for that character, why not go ask the real Don Knotts to do it? As for the logical gaps, let's put it this way: based on the probable age of the Dears' baby, from the last movie to this sequel, Scamp probably has not aged within a year. Yet, he falls for a dog who, based on her story of having been through five families, must be much older than he is. In dog years, that could equate to a high school senior dating a sixth-grader. Maybe all of Angel's stays with her families lasted a combined total of less than a month? Who knows? Oh well, I guess these are just quibbles to say the least.
In the end, Scamp, Angel, and company are quite less grating than the characters seen in the last few Disney direct-to-video sequels. It did have its bad points, what with its out-of-place musical numbers and its plot being a mishmash of the plots from the first movie, The Little Mermaid II, and Homeward Bound 2. But seeing old faces again without having the experience be particularly painful is a blessing I count in this movie's favor. With that said, I can safely say this is the Disney sequel I enjoyed the most, for whatever that's worth.
©Jeffrey Chen, Mar. 11, 2001