Legacy Content

Toon Talk: Hunchback of Notre Dame 2
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(c) Disney

Yes, things haven't changed much around Notre Dame, most notably Quasimodo's lack of a love interest, brought to fore even more so by the upcoming festival of "Le Jour D'Amour", a sort of French version of Valentine's Day. During this celebration, it is Quasimodo's job to ring Le Fidel, a jewel-encrusted bell housed in the towers of Notre Dame.

The traveling Cirque de Sarousch (reminiscent of the creepy circus in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World) has come to town for the festivities, run by the vain Sarousch (Michael McKean, a.k.a. Lenny on Laverne & Shirley). Topsy-turvy in a tent, it's not fun he's after in Paris: he intends to steal Le Fidel, using his gamine assistant Madellaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) to lure the bellringer away from his post.

At first repulsed by his appearance, Madellaine soon falls for the hunchback in an "only in the movies" montage capped off by an embarrassing love song actually titled "Fa La La La Fallen in Love". (Yes, the gargoyles sing this one, as if "A Guy Like You" wasn't enough.)

Several rote plot twists later, we find Phoebus uncovering Madellaine's subterfuge, but not before Sarousch can not only steal the bell, but kidnap Zephyr as well. Quasimodo must learn to trust Madellaine again in order to rescue them and, oh yeah, get the girl too.

Like almost every other direct to video sequel before it, Hunchback II feels the need to carbon copy a plot point from the original, this time with the obvious parallel in the Sarousch/Madellaine relationship with that between Quasimodo and Frollo in the first film. But this time the controlling master subjugating the misunderstood innocent is little more then a contrivance constructed mainly to keep the thin plot afloat.

An awkward subplot wherein Esmerelda questions Phoebus' prejudices, and the inane running gag (granted, continued from the original) of Hugo's romantic pursuit of Djali (who I always thought was a billy goat), do little to distract from the main love story of Quasimodo and Madellaine, in itself a watered-down version of the similar "bad girl falls for big lug" romance from Hercules.

In other words, while watching this film, one gets a vague feeling of having seen it all before. Even the one stand-out song, Quasimodo's "An Ordinary Miracle", comes off as little more then a second verse of his still superior "I want" ballad, "Out There".