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CINDERELLA II: DREAMS COME TRUE
Special Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Jennifer Hale, Rob Paulsen, Corey Burton, Tress MacNeille, Holland Taylor, Russi Taylor
Director:  John Kafka
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
Studio:  Walt Disney
Features:  See Review
Length:  73 Minutes
Release Date:  December 18, 2007

No matter how your heart is grieving,
If you keep on believing,
The dream that you wish will come true.

Film ***

My earliest movie memory is being seven years old and going with my parents to see Cinderella.  It was actually the second part of a double bill with the God awful live action film One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.  I couldn’t forget that one fast enough.  But Cinderella was an entirely different story.

It was a picture that captured my heart like very few have in my life.  It was a movie that made me believe in magic.  It was filled with wonderful characters, like Cinderella, her valiant mice friends Jaq and Gus, the delightful Fairy Godmother…it was also filled with horrible ones, to, like the Stepmother, the stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella, and the awful but funny cat Lucifer.  And, of course, there were characters with NO character, like the handsome but undeniably bland Prince.

Part of me viewed the direct-to-video sequel Cinderella II:  Dreams Come True with a bit of distrust.  After watching it, part of me still thinks I should.  But some films charm you in spite of their flaws, and before long, I realized Cinderella II was really like sitting down with a bunch of old friends I hadn’t seen in far too long…along with the rare delight of seeing how little they’ve changed.

The gang’s all here, in other words.  Cinderella may be a princess now, but she’s still just as sweet as ever.  Her mice friends are still the plucky stalwarts we remembered.  The Stepmother still sends a cold chill up the spine.  And the Prince still has no character.

This is a three part story, each one probably angled toward young girls, and each repeating the worthwhile moral of just being yourself.  Cinderella learns this in the first story, when the royal banquet is left in her charge for the first time, and she and her friends find themselves stifled by countless years of tradition.  Taking a chance, she decides to throw the party her way, which means open curtains, better food, better music, and the presence of commoners as well as royalty.  The result, as you can guess, is the best bash the castle has ever seen…and a newfound appreciation for the princess’ abilities to do things her own way.

Jaq the mouse learns the valuable lesson about being himself in the second story.  Convinced that he can no longer help Cinderella the way he used to since she’s become a princess, the Fairy Godmother grants his wish to become a human.  But humans don’t have all the answers either, and when a crisis erupts, it turns out only Jaq the mouse and NOT Jaq the human can save the day for Cinderella.

The final story has the most heart and humor.  Cinderella’s wicked stepsister Anastasia finds herself falling in love with a simple baker, much to the chagrin of her vain mother.  To make her dream come true, Anastasia not only has to go against her mother for the first time, but she has to learn to believe there’s something inside herself that’s worthwhile…and Cinderella sets out to help.  “You’re beautiful,” Anastasia complains at first.  “It’s always been easy for you.”  “That’s not how I remember it…” Cinderella replies.

Countering Anastasia’s story is the story of our favorite evil feline Lucifer, who falls in love with the mice’s new nemesis, the cat of the castle Pom Pom.  The mice agree to help their old enemy, IF he’ll promise to stop chasing mice.  Can he do it, folks?  WILL he do it?

Like most direct-to-video releases from Disney, there is a noticeable let down in quality.  The animation appears flatter, and some bits, like when Cinderella climbs a staircase, are so lazily done as to be inexcusable.  But the characters all look like we remember them, thank goodness, and even sound the parts as well thanks to a talented voiceover cast.  The music is fine, but the songs don’t come close to the magic of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” or “Sing Sweet Nightingale”…though fans are treated to a chorus or two from “Bippity Boppity Boo”. 

Still, for all the critiques I could make against it, I have to say, I still found Cinderella II to be charming despite its imperfections.  It was great seeing these characters again, and meeting the new ones, too.  In fact, I got the biggest, longest laugh I’ve had in a long time when Anastasia’s beloved baker was introduced…he looks EXACTLY like me!!  (Sorry…requests for autographs must be sent through my talent agent…).  ;-)

Good characters and a good message make this a film worth sharing with your kids…and if there’s going to be a Cinderella III, I say, more power to ‘em.

Video ***

I’m pleased that Disney offered an anamorphic widescreen transfer for a direct-to-video release…had they gone with full frame, no one could have really complained.  Like most animated films, it’s a bright, colorful offering that translates well on DVD…the only complaint, as mentioned before, is that it’s a bit flatter looking than the normal Disney fare (read:  theatrical release).  That being said, this is still a quality offering that suits the subject matter nicely.

Audio ***

A choice of Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 tracks for Cinderella II?  Dreams DO come true!  This is a pleasant, vibrant listen from start to finish with good dynamic range and clear dialogue, and terrific sounding musical orchestrations from beginning to end.  The rear stages don’t get much discreet use, but they along with the .1 channel make the music sound even fuller.  A good effort.

Features **1/2

The features are mostly aimed at the kids, starting with a storybook that lets you either read along with Fairy Godmother or by yourself.  There is also an interactive game that lets you help Cinderella get ready for the big banquet in three different ways.  There is a short featurette on the music of the movie, plus a video for “Put it Together” as sung by Brooke Allison.  Rounding out are some DVD ROM extras for the kids, and a slew of coming attractions.

Summary:

Cinderella II:  Dreams Come True is a better than average direct-to-video offering from Disney that largely works because of the continuing charm of some endearing characters that feel like old friends.  This is a good program for the whole family to share.

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