Twitter Plot Summary: More direct to DVD Disney gubbins. So bland I can’t even be bothered to do a proper Twitter length summary. Le sigh.
Quasimodo is back for more adventures in the cleverly named, direct to DVD sequel The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. Just don’t go expecting the animation to be anywhere near as good as the cinematic release – this is on par with the quality of Disney’s animated television shows. In some instances this isn’t a bad thing, just take a look at Duck Tales. When considering an animated sequel to a Disney Classic then you half expect it to be somewhat lacking in quality. Sadly this is the state of affairs with almost all of Disney’s sequel, whether we like it or not.
At least the voice cast from the 1996 original make a return, with added Jennifer Love Hewitt for good measure. She plays Madellaine, a circus girl forced to try stealing one of the bells from Notre Dame. This just so happens to be at the same time as Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) is lamenting the fact he has yet to find that special someone, and Madellaine’s task is, for want of a better term, to woo him. Telegraphing the rest of the story is almost a given once you have this basic information to hand. Quasi and Madellaine will have a “thing” going on, she will undoubtedly break away from her life of crime and join the forces of good, and the bad guy will get his comeuppance. That bad guy is Sarousche, voiced by Spinal Tap’s Michael McKean. A preening falsehood of a man, he’s not a particularly impressive villain but his acts of subterfuge both on stage and off are interesting at least.
But what about the songs, you may ask? They’re not that special to be honest, sub-par Broadway showtunes and little else. I’m not sure whether it’s to do with less talented writers working on the sequels (all due respect to them despite my saying this), but it feels like the Disney B-Team had a crack at the script and writing a few songs. It may also be something to do with the script which leaves a lot to be desired. There’s no subtlety to it, falling into that same old trap of providing a lacklustre story for the sake of milking a cinematic release. The first Hunchback film had great songs, great animation and a decent story going for it, despite being one of the least impressive and commercially/critically successful Disney Classics.
Thankfully in more recent times Disney have tried to step away from subpar sequels, but that is of no help here, obviously. With most of the focus on Quasi and Madellaine there’s no room for the rest of the cast – Kevin Kline and Demi Moore are little more than cameo appearances. It’s this level of inconsistency that proves to be the biggest harm, had they managed to craft a story that was.’t so completely by the numbers then it may have had some merit. Instead, it’s perfect fodder for background entertainment for the kids while you go off and get the housework done.