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Jim Kammerud, Brian Smith
Barry Bostwick, Jason Alexander, Martin Short, Bobby Lockwood, Susan Blakeslee, Samuel West, Maurice LaMarche, Jeff Bennett, Jodi Benson
Writing Credits:
Garrett K. Schiff, Jim Kammerud, Brian Smith

Rated G.

Widescreen 1.66:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 74 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/16/2008

• Behind the Scenes “Dog-umentary”
• “Lost in London” Game
• “Patch’s Twilight Adventure” Game
• “Thunderbolt: An Inside Look”
• Music Videos


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101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure (Special Edition) (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 1, 2009)

In past reviews, I’ve noted my lack of enchantment with Disney’s animated sequels. I really enjoyed two: the terrific theatrical release Toy Story 2, and the moderately amusing “direct to video” (DTV) flick Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins.

Otherwise, the remaining films varied from bland to crummy. Even when the movies included the original voice talent – like with The Hunchback of Notre Dame II - the pictures tended to seem plodding and contrived. Most just remade the original flicks with some minor twist, and none of them seemed inspired or even marginally fun.

Until 2003’s 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, that is. When I first saw previews for it, I thought it looked like another message-heavy piece of tripe. The ads pushed the quest for individuality of Patch, one of the puppies from the original flick. Disney’s DTV releases tend to favor blandly explored themes over all else, and I observed no reason to believe London would be any different.

To my exceedingly pleasant surprise, however, London actually worked pretty well. No one will confuse it with the delightful original or think that it lives up to the level of most Disney theatrical releases, but London proved light and lively.

At the start of the flick, humans Roger (Tim Bentinck) and Anita (Jodi Benson) plan to take their canine brood from their London flat to their giant “Dalmatian Plantation” outside of London. Patch (Bobby Lockwood) starts to feel like nothing more than one in 101 and he doesn’t think anything makes him stand out as an individual.

We see that Patch maintains an obsessive interest in his favorite TV show, The Thunderbolt Adventure Hour. When he learns that the program’s star will visit London the next day, he desires to go, but since this conflicts with moving day, this looks unlikely. A glum Patch sleeps in a bag of empty dog food, which means the family loses track of him when they move the following morning.

Feeling ignored, Patch ventures into town and attends the auditions for a guest spot on Thunderbolt. There he meets the big “T” himself (Barry Bostwick), and we also get to know Thunderbolt’s TV sidekick Lil’ Lightning (Jason Alexander). The long-neglected partner tells Thunderbolt that they’ll write the star out of the show and suggests that the egotistical hero do something special to attract positive attention. Thunderbolt goes out to perform heroic deeds, but he lacks ideas. To assist in that matter, he recruits Patch, whose encyclopedic knowledge of the TV series gives Thunderbolt possibilities for actions. When the show’s producers can’t find the star, the sneaky sidekick Lightning then promotes himself as the new lead.

In the meantime, we see that the authorities let Cruella de Vil (Susanne Blakeslee) stay out of jail on probation, but she can’t buy any more furs. Left adrift, she finds new meaning for her life when she encounters abstract artist Lars (Martin Short). He works exclusively in spots, and she becomes his muse. However, when he doesn’t achieve what she wants, Cruella decides to kidnap the Dalmatians to inspire him.

Of course, Cruella being Cruella, she harbors nasty motives. She wants Lars to use their carcasses as canvases. To that end, she bails her old stooges Horace (Maurice LaMarche) and Jasper (Jeff Bennett) to do the deed.

From there, London essentially becomes a big chase flick to stop Cruella and save the pups. Yes, that seems awfully similar to the plot maintained by the original film, and I can’t say that London does much to differ from its blueprint. However, even without a tremendous amount of originality, the flick still manages to prove entertaining.

London doesn’t do anything exceedingly well, but it makes very few missteps either. Though not excellent, most of the film seems reasonably positive. Animation often holds back these DTV releases; for example, efforts like Cinderella II: Dreams Come True showed exceedingly clumsy and awkward movement.

No one will mistake the art in London with better efforts like Fantasia, but compared to its DTV brethren, it holds up well. Perhaps I noticed fewer flaws because I felt more involved in the story than usual, but I thought the animation seemed acceptably smooth and vivid. The artwork nicely recaptured the look of the original film, and while the sequel’s animation didn’t compare with that effort, it still came across as more than acceptable.

The story doesn’t seem like anything special, and one could easily argue that it mostly just rehashes the plot to the first flick. However, the directors execute it with some fun and panache, and the voice talent helps make it more entertaining. The three stars in the cast do well, and Short seems especially amusing as tortured artist Lars. Coming off his delightful work in the underrated Treasure Planet, Short appears destined to steal every animated flick in which he voices a character, and he makes Lars quite entertaining.

Would I rather watch 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure instead of most Disney theatrical releases? No, but it’s arguably the studio’s best direct-to-video flick, and it seems stronger than quite a few of Disney’s “animated classics”. For instance, I’d definitely take London over something like Oliver and Company or The Aristocats. This may be blasphemy, but I might even select London over the vastly overrated Jungle Book. London didn’t dazzle me, but the briskly-paced and amusing adventure worked well nonetheless, and Disney fans should definitely get a kick out of it.

Footnote: make sure you stick around through the end of the final credits. The movie includes a fun bit for those who make it that far.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B / Bonus C-

101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though much of London looked very good, some prominent problems affected my grade.

The main issues stemmed from edge enhancement. Haloes cropped up throughout the movie, and they sometimes made the image less concise and more tentative than desire. For the most part, sharpness looked fine, but those haloes caused too many distractions. I also saw some jagged edges and a few weird examples of motion artifacts that made the flick look like it suffered from scan lines; these were infrequent but odd and annoying. As for print flaws, I saw a couple of small specks, but otherwise the movie remained clean and fresh.

London enjoyed a suitably cartoony and lively palette, and the DVD replicated those tones spectacularly well. The colors always came across as tight and vibrant, as they virtually leapt off the screen at times. The hues never displayed any bleeding, noise, or other concerns, and they consistently appeared stellar. Black levels also seemed deep and rich, while shadow detail looked appropriately dense but never became too thick or opaque. The highs were enough to bolster this to a “C+“, but the lows disappointed.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of 101 Dalmatians II seemed satisfying. The soundfield maintained a noticeable bias toward the front speakers, and it displayed decent spread and imaging there. Music showed nice stereo separation, and a lot of environmental and other specific effects cropped up from the sides. The soundfield showed a good level of activity and made the front domain reasonably lively, though elements tended to seem somewhat “speaker specific” at times. The track didn’t blend together as smoothly as I’d like, and panning could appear a bit awkward.

Surround usage was relatively minor, though the movie enjoyed some active moments. For the most part, the rear speakers simply reinforced the front ones, but periodic instances of unique audio cropped up from the rear. I even detected some split-surround usage. For example, when Cruella shouted “spots!” and ran around the art gallery, her voice moved nicely across the rear speakers.

Audio quality appeared solid. Speech came across as natural and concise, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded fairly tight and brisk, with good dynamic range evident. Effects also seemed clean and accurate, and they could provide some nice low-end response when appropriate. For instance, the snort of the mad bull and the backfire of Cruella’s car both offered deep and vivid bass. Although the audio of 101 Dalmatians II didn’t excel in any particular way, it still worked well for the material.

How did the picture and sound of this 2008 “Special Edition” compare to those of the original 2003 DVD? In terms of audio, both seemed virtually identical, though the 2008 release omitted the DTS track from the original issue. Since I thought the Dolby and DTS mixes sounded the same, I didn’t mind the loss of the latter, but its absence may bother some fans.

As for the visuals, the transfers seemed to be the same but encoding appeared to differ. The 2008 disc looked softer but it suffered from fewer of those jagged motion artifacts. This meant that the two didn’t offer identical visuals, but neither worked better than the other.

Although Disney touts this 2008 release as a “Special Edition”, it adds almost nothing to the original disc’s supplements. The only new component comes from a game called Patch’s Twilight Adventure. This requires you to go through a series of mini-pieces to finish a quest. It’s simple but it offers mild fun.

Otherwise, all the DVD’s extras appeared on the 2003 release. The Lost In London game provides a moderately educational and enjoyable quiz. You hear a description of a London landmark and then need to select it from three options. If correct, you learn a little more about the sight. The game offers no reward for completion, but it lacks the mind-numbing repetition of many Disney DVD guessing games, and it lets kids learn a little more about London, so it seems like a decent piece.

Purely fun, Thunderbolt: An Inside Look takes us into the TV star’s trailer. We can then check out different materials in his abode. For example, we can read his fan mail and watch some commercials. The package even tosses in some “bloopers”. This section offers a reasonably enjoyable experience.

A light attempt to relate some information about the film’s creation, the Behind the Scenes Dog-umentary lasts six minutes and 58 seconds. It shows some pooches as they roam the Disney studios and learn a little about how they made London. We hear from directors Jim Kammerud and Brian Smith, art director Bill Perkins, and anonymous animator “Dave”. Veterans won’t learn anything hear, but it’s fun to see some of the voice recording sessions, and kids should get a kick out of this creatively-done documentary.

Next we find two music videos. “Try Again” by Will Young mixes recording studio shots with movie clips, while “You’re the One” by LMNT just runs film pieces along with the song. Neither tune nor video seems memorable.

As the DVD starts, we encounter a mix of ads. We find trailers for Sleeping Beauty, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, TinkerBell, WALL-E and Disney Movie Rewards. In addition, you’ll see these clips in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks domain plus promos for The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Tigger and Pooh and a Musical Too, Little Einsteins: The Christmas Wish and Phineas and Ferb.

Most of Disney’s “direct-to-video” releases seem cheap and cheesy, but 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure stands out from the pack. It never takes itself too seriously, and it offers a reasonably clever and lively romp. The DVD features flawed but usually decent picture quality along with good sound and a small roster of supplements. Families looking for some animated entertainment should give 101 Dalmatians II a look, as it seems like a fun choice for both kids and adults.

While new fans might want to give this release a look, I can’t recommend a “double dip” for folks who already own the original disc. Both releases featured virtually identical audio, and the extras were extremely similar as well; the SE added nothing of consequence. As for the visuals, they looked different between the two, but neither seemed stronger than the other. There’s no reason for fans to replace their old discs with this one.

To rate this film visit the original review of 101 DALMATIANS II: PATCH'S LONDON ADVENTURE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main