After watching “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure,” I found myself both admiring this sequel and noting things about it that are peculiar to sequels and TV animation. That leaves me torn between giving it a 7 for being one of the best Disney sequels I’ve seen in a while, or a 6, for still falling short of big screen expectations.
One thing that struck me was the visual design. I won’t say that it’s exactly like the original artwork and backgrounds from “Lady and the Tramp,” but it’s respectably close. This sequel has a richer look than most. And the detail? You could swear that it came right out of the first film . . . and you’d be almost right. On a making-of feature the filmmakers talk about how they were so struck by “Lady and the Tramp” that they wanted to replicate the street, the house, even rooms in the house so that it created a bridge between the two films.
Another bridge is a scenic homage to the first film in which Scamp and a female dog end up at the same back-alley restaurant as Lady and the Tramp, with the waiters reprising their “Bella Notte” serenade. The filmmakers also point out that the wrecked dogcatcher’s wagon from the first film now sits at the top of the junk heap in the sequel.
But after an opening that features Jim Dear and Darling (the married couple) with all their dogs—the point being to establish that Scamp is aptly named, and a bit of a mischief maker—“Lady and the Tramp II” bears little resemblance to the original story. In fact, it has more in common with another Disney animated feature, “Oliver & Company,” only instead of a kitty hooking up with a gang of street dogs it’s Scamp getting mixed up with a band of self-proclaimed “junkyard dogs” who live in a junkyard and steal food and good times from unsuspecting locals.
Scamp (voiced by Scott Wolf) has to prove himself as Oliver did and go up against a nasty Doberman, same as Oliver. Only this Doberman (Chaz Palminteri) is the leader of the pack, a former protégé of Tramp’s during Dad’s street years. Complicating matters for Scamp is that Buster still holds a grudge for choosing Lady and domesticity over him and the street life.
A more pleasant complication is a pretty female dog named Angel (Alyssaa Milano), who confesses, after Scamp confides in her, that she envies the home he ran away from. They have an adventure together that will remind Disney viewers of “The Lion King” cubs, while the pressure to conform to the order of the pack mounts and Jim Dear, Darling, Tramp (Jeff Bennett), Lady (Jodi Benson) and all their friends scour the town looking for Scamp. Along the way there are five engaging tunes from Melissa Manchester and Norman Gimbel that add as much life to the story as the retro-looking art design and familiar characters.
If only the plot wasn’t so familiar, and the run-time the equivalent of a TV movie (69 minutes).
Still, “Scamp’s Adventure” is a better-than-average sequel from Disney that tries hard to be a legitimate sequel. And that has to be worth something.
“Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is rated G.
“Scamp’s Adventure” is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio, “enhanced” for 16×9 television monitors. It comes to Blu-ray disc via an AVC/MPEG-4 encode that looks clean and crisp as can be, with no artifacts and plenty of detail. Colors look rich, too, with just the amount of light to make them look nicely saturated. Sharp detail abounds, in medium shots and backgrounds as well as in closeups.
The featured audio is an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 options and subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish. Like the video, the sound is rich, with just enough rear-speaker action to provide a sense of a wider sound field. And when the songs kick in, all the speakers come to life.
In addition to a decent making-of feature there are sing-along songs (“Welcome Home,” “A World without Fences,” “Junkyard Society Rag,” “I Didn’t Know I Could Feel This Way,” and “Always There”), three Pluto animated shorts, a Puppy Trivia Tracks pop-up option, and an audio commentary from director Darrell Rooney, animation director Steve Trenbirth, and producer/co-director Jeanne Roussell that seems to speak to adults rather than the younger audience the film seems geared towards.
This is a combo pack, and so a DVD version of the film is also included, and there’s a buy-any-2-and-save-$10 coupon.
As direct-to-video sequels go, “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is better than average and families who love “Lady and the Tramp” should enjoy this entry from Disney. But it still has a direct-to-video feel, despite the care that the filmmakers took to create bridges to the original film.