Toon Talk: Hunchback of Notre Dame 2
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
The Hunchback of Notre Dame ii
Bells Are Ringing
In the news recently, the heirs of Victor Hugo were attempting to block the publication of a sequel to his classic novel, Les Miserables. Apparently, nobody has told the family about Disney's latest direct to video sequel to their animated film based on Hugo's other great work, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Nay-sayers could argue that the Disney version, with it's wise-cracking stone work and happy ending, strayed far enough from the original already to allay such further claims. Regarded by many as "to dark" and/or "to adult", Disney's Hunchback is unfairly overlooked at times, although it does have it's fair share of champions, myself included. (For further Toon Talk on the original The Hunchback of Notre Dame, see my review of the recently released DVD, coming soon.)
So it was with some surprise that Disney chose this story for it's sequel-making video marketing machine. In retrospect, one wishes they had left well enough alone: with no nasty deaths or uncomfortable sexual tension, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II ends up as bland as it's title.
Taking place several years after the first film, the sequel picks up where Quasimodo (again voiced by Tom Hulce) has become fully-integrated into the citizenry of Paris. Esmerelda (Demi Moore, her voice even huskier then usual) and Phoebus (Kevin Kline, acting more along the lines of his silly Road to El Dorado character then his nobel soldier from the first film) are married with child, a motor-mouthed rugrat named Zephyr (Haley Joel Osment). And Quasi's trio of gargoyle pals (Jason Alexander as Hugo, Charles Kimbrough as Victor and Jane Withers, replacing the late Mary Wickes, as Laverne) are still hanging around the cathedral.