Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Disney Sequelester - 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure

HELLO AGAIN MY COMPADRES. Did you miss me terribly? There there, try not to cry, you'll soak the carpet.

Sure to please all twelve fans who
managed to stay awake through
the original!
Welcome to 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure. I think that title is grammatically questionable. As is the movie.

This movie, you guys. This movie gave me more problems reviewing than any other sequel thus far. Partially it's because of the content - I don't think that 101 Dalmatians is a particularly good or interesting movie. It made a lot of money but also garnered a fair number of negative reviews, partially for having a beyond stupid plot but mostly for being boring as tar.

I was deeply afraid that the sequel would follow tradition and somehow be even more boring than the original, but to my surprise, it actually wasn't. Well - kind of. You'll see.

All the dalmatians (apparently there's 105 now, but I guess that title wasn't good enough) are living happily in London with Cruella DeVille and her henchminions safely behind bars.

Okay, that definitely violates the health code.
Oh hey look, it's the exposition fairy.

"Are you playing or packing? We're going to the Dalmatian Plantation in the morning!" Yes, one of the many plantations in England. I don't think this movie knows what a plantation is.

Pretty much the ONLY thing 101 Dalmatians had going for it (other than Cruella obvi) was a cleverly done atmosphere, and here... Yeah, not so much. They give the puppies these weird Rupert accents...

Only my fellow British readers are gonna
get this joke
... and have them say "wizard" and "blimey" every other word like Ron Weasley, but otherwise there's no cohesive tone like the first movie had.

The one thing that this movie does understand is theme, which it will demonstrate over and over again by having Patch look sad and say things like "Dad, do you think I'm one of a kind or just one of a hundred and one?". Since I can't tell Patch apart from any of the other puppies despite the fact that their design choice to make him stand out was to give him a black eye, I'm gonna go ahead and guess he's just one of a hundred and one(five).

Then Perdita says this inexcusable thing: "Best of all we'll be miles and miles away from that evil, ugly monster Cruella."
Excuse me, bitch is FABULOUS.
Speaking of, Cruella's out on parole and looking for meaning in her life. And she happens upon... KLAUS. He's an abstract artist with an outraaaaaaaageous FRAINCH accent. As ye do.

"Your passion for my work both repels and attracts."
When Klaus learns that Cruella is unhappy he says, "Tell me what cloud dares cast a shadow upon the flower," so I'm content knowing that he's treating my girl right.

Meanwhile, Patch was too busy watching his favorite show and got left behind on moving day. Thunderbolt can't save you now, Patch!

Yeah, nice parenting guys. Also, nice blending. That looks totally natural.
There's a tryout for a spot on the Wonderdog show (of course there is), so Patch happily ambles over to that. Thunderbolt turns out to be a big fake who's totally full of himself. Basically Patch does a crappy job and everyone laughs at him while these ladies fangirl.

This is how all women look to Robert Pattinson.
After the try-outs end, however, Thunderbolt's sidekick delivers some alarming news: They're going to kill off Thunderbolt and replace him! Oh noez! But the sidekick has a cunning plan - if Thunderbolt does some heroics in real life, maybe they'll decide to keep him after all!

Yeah, the sidekick's evil, surprise!
Thunderbolt is, somehow, a shockingly fun character. In spite of the "heroic actor who's actually an actor and the kid is disappointed" trope being done a MILLIONBILLION times before, the character is dumb and self-interested enough to not be obviously amazing from the start, but still retains some charm. And there's some fun parts when he goes looking for someone to rescue and realizes people aren't watching him be heroic. "What's the matter with you English people? Are you all having tea? How am I supposed to get my job back if you're all having tea?!"

The spot art isn't cutting it for Cruella's fix.

Although nice nod to installation art.
Oh c'mon now you're just f@#ing with me.
When Cruella proves impossible to satisfy with his art, Klaus expresses something I feel often.

My top girl Cruella decides to take matters into her own hands, as one does. She busts Horace and Jasper out of jail and captures all the puppies due to storytelling too lazy for me to handle.

She tracks down all the mongrels and delivers them to a hilariously excited Klaus. "A gift? For ME?!?! ... How very Christmas morning wiz ze twinkle lights of you."

But it turns out in a surprise twist that Klaus freakin' loves him some puppies, WITH the skin on them. And not in a Hannibal way either. He refuses to kill them, so Cruella must satisfy her desires in other ways.

Does it surprise anyone that Cruella is into some kinky shit?
Nah, she just ties him up and tries to kill all the puppies herself. But not before inexplicably leaving the room so the dogs have loads of time to escape. "Take a nap... Zen fire ze missiles!!!!!" Screenwriters, I am pointing at my eyes and pointing at you.


Patch comes running in with Thunderbolt to help save his siblings. Initially he gets caught and gets all mad at Thunderbolt for not being a real hero, but then he recovers and busts them all out. He almost gets caught by Cruella at the last second, but prevails, hurray!

I can only hope this is the last thing I see before I die.
Oh yeah and Thunderbolt somehow finds out his sidekick is evil and Thunderbolt and Klaus share some kind of weird eyebrow connection. I don't know.

This movie is a good example of something we all know: Disney loooooooves its villains. And with good reason - Disney has a lot of fabulous, memorable villains. But they often come at a price, and that price is really boring protagonists. At its best, Disney is capable of creating flawed and memorable heroes like Simba, Aladdin, and Basil of Baker Street (yes I know it was a book first, you still have to get it across in film though). But at its laziest, Disney makes flawless, perfect heroes that cater to oversensitive parents but make for boring watching and terrible storytelling.

If your characters are already perfect, there's no need for them to go from point A to point B. Sure, Patch feels like he needs to stand out, but we the audience already see that he's a morally good and strong willed character, and therefore we know that he doesn't actually need to change, which invalidates the whole journey.

101 Dalmatians 2 at once demonstrates the best and the worst of the sequel fare. There's some truly inventive characters and well-written dialogue, but there's also abysmally poor storytelling that reeks of "We already got our advance so screw it".

Next week...

1 comment:

  1. Lol! 101 dogs and he's the only one with a patch? Highly unlikely, but hilarious. I LURVE Cruella!! I mean, I'm not for the fur obsession, but you know, everyone has problems. :) I say, stop trying to kidnap the dump puppies - be patient, stalk the dogs. Some of those puppies are bound to get hit by a bus.

    Wait, Milo left Atlantis? o_O Hmm...I did see that movie. Once. And they made a sequel. Of course they did.