A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the original Disney take on Hunchback of Notre Dame had certain charms, not the least of which were the lovely songs, and more specifically, Tom Hulce's singing of them. This direct-to-video sequel has Mr. Hulce's singing, but sadly lackluster songs. The story is rather heavy-handed, but the lesson, about looking beyond the surface for the real value of things and people, is a good one. Although it's far weaker than the original, fans will enjoy reuniting with the characters, and will find some entertaining moments.
A weak sequel, It's like The Exorcist(1973) becoming The Magician and Cannibal Holocaust(1980) becoming Cannibal Playdate
What's the story?
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME II involves the Festival d'Amour, when Parisians gather at Notre Dame and proclaim their love for each other by shouting it to the rooftops. Poor Quasimodo has no one to shout about until he meets Madellaine, who is part of a traveling circus. The evil circus manager, Sarouche, forces Madellaine to steal from circus attendees, and he has his sights on one of Quasi's bells, one that is especially necessary for the big love festival. The bell is plain on the outside, but inside is encrusted with jewels. As Quasi tells Madellaine "It's more beautiful on the inside." (Get it? Get it?) Will Madellaine overcome her aversion to Quasi's looks? Can Quasi look past her thieving ways to see who she really is? Will the evil Sarouche be stopped?
Is it any good?
There's a reason some films go straight to video. The characters, settings, and situations are the same, but something is missing. In this sequel, the biggest shortcoming is the quality of the music. The songs are weak imitations of those in the original film. Luckily, there aren't many of them.
If you've ever seen a Disney film, you probably know how this one turns out, but there are some pleasures to be had on the way to the end of this one. Quasi's gargoyle friends provide comic relief, and the animated Paris is lovely. It's predictable and a bit ham-fisted in getting its message across, but the underlying lesson, of looking for the truth beneath the surface, is a good one for everyone to be reminded of from time to time.
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