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Homeward Bound II

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Homeward Bound II

Starring: Ralph Waite, Sally Field
Director: David R. Ellis
Rated: G
RunTime: 89 Minutes
Release Date: March 1996
Genres: Comedy, Family, Kids

*Also starring: Sinbad, Carla Gugino, Al Michaels, Tommy Lasorda, Bob Uecker, Jon Polito, Kim Greist, Max Perlich

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Whereas there are good movies for teenagers and adults opening almost every week, young kids have much less from which to choose. Most weeks bring nothing new and when they do, the movies frequently are written assuming the kids are morons, hence any script, no matter how stupid, will suffice to attract the children to the show. This was one of those weeks when a kids' movie with some intelligence had its debut.

HOMEWARD BOUND II: LOST IN SAN FRANCISCO tells the continuing saga of three animals. The plot is nothing more than a recycled version of the first one, but hey, it is still funny and there are many great lines. Once again we have the rambunctious bulldog Chance (Michael J. Fox), the trusty old golden retriever Shadow (Ralph Waite since Don Ameche died), and the feisty, smart mouthed Himalayan cat Sassy (Sally Field).

As the show starts, Chance tells us how great it is living with his human family of Bob (Robert Hays), Laura (Kim Greist) and their kids. Chance says, "They treat us pretty good here. Three meals a day and all the smelly sneakers you can eat." Right away you see that, hands down, the best part of the show is the script by Chris Hauty. The animals, other than Chance who is great, are not very emotive and frequently their expressions seem to have little to do with the words they speak but to which they do not move their lips. The directing (David R. Ellis) is pretty lame, but the script and the voices save the day and create a delightful movie for children and the adults who are fortunate enough to get to join them.

The classic line of the show, which is also in the original HOMEWARD BOUND, is when Chance tells Sassy in one of their many put down lines to each other, "Dogs rule and cats drool." Later she forces him to say, "Cats rule and dogs drool."

This time, since the family is going from San Francisco to camp in Canada, they try to put the animals in the cargo hold of the airplane. The animals escape because they fear, incorrectly, that they are being taken to The Bad Place. The movie is ostensibly about their attempting to return and the family trying to find them, but actually it is mainly a series of incidents of two dogs and a cat meeting other dogs and cats. No one seems too concerned about going home, and the humans hardly ever appear in the film.

Never mind, as an animals roam around a lot movie, it works, again, thanks solely to the dialog. Sassy, whose name says it all, tells the dogs how to cope with, "Does the cat always have to be the brains of the operation? Beauty and brains. I never cease to amaze myself." When it rains, and she is forced to sleep with her canine companions, she is disgusted, telling the audience, "Nothing smells worse than wet dogs." Ever cocky Chance is unbowed by being lost, proclaiming, "I welcome danger with open paws." He even breaks into a rap rhythm with, "I'm lost in the city with an optimistic dog and a sarcastic kitty."

Although the show is sweet, it is highly uneven. There are long passages with a bunch of animals just chatting. This part is monotonous and needed stronger editing by Peter E. Berger and Michael A. Stevenson. When we have sharp ripostes between Chance and Sassy, with fast cuts and a little action, the movie comes into its own. When the three of them get lost, Chance tells Sassy, "Listen, we're guys. We don't stop and ask directions. We know where we are every step of the way." When Chance meets a bad dog named Stinky, he tells him, "Hello Stinky, long time no smell." Finally, Chance is at his best in the ending which wraps up the movie nicely.

HOMEWARD BOUND II runs only 1:29 and would have been a stronger movie with some of the slow scenes deleted. It is correctly rated G. There is no sex, bad language or human nudity of any kind. There is a little violence in that the dogs do snarl at each other and kind of wrestle around a bit plus there is a couple of scenes where it looks briefly like there is the potential for harm. This is all handled low key, and the movie did not seem to scare anyone in the theater. I missed the sense of purpose and direction that HOMEWARD BOUND had, but the sequel is worth seeing for the continuing funny dialog that will delight people of all ages. It is not a particularly fast paced movie, so may bore some kids. Jeffrey and his friend Allison, both almost 7, both loved it as did Allison's brother Josh (recently turned 4). I recommend the movie to you and give it ** 1/2.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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