Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco
1996, G, 89 min. Directed by David R. Ellis. Voices by Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, Ralph Waite, Sinbad. Starring Kim Griest, Robert Hays, Veronica Lauren, Kevin Chevalia, Benj Thall.
REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., March 15, 1996
In this sequel to Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, the filmmakers essentially duplicate the recipe of the first, winsome movie but change the location from the wilderness to the city. Then, for good measure (good being a figurative term, here) or perhaps feeling the need to alter the flavor a bit more, they throw in a few scatological jokes here, a little sexual innuendo there, to spice it all up. The resulting concoction, while not vile, left a slightly sour taste in my mouth, especially in contrast with the sweetness of its predecessor. Not that the 1993 version was pristine, but there the few low-brow jokes were tempered by an otherwise witty, heartfelt, and sapient script, some sensational scenery, and top-notch photography. When the intrepid trio of animals faced the daunting Sierra Nevadas, you shared the awe of their undertaking. You inhaled the piney scent, shivered in the chill wind, tensed at the sound of a snapping twig. But in Homeward Bound II, Ellis and his crew never quite capture the feel of the big city, its pith or its perils. Instead, they rely on pedestrian, even offensive stereotypes to give the movie its urban flavor and the result is alienating rather than engaging. Shadow, the old, wise, and unwavering retriever; along with Chance, the incorrigibly impetuous bulldog; and Sassy, the bossy, prissy, imperious Himalayan, must once again find their way home -- this time through the streets of San Francisco. On their journey, they meet up with a gang of streetwise strays who, in rap-like cadence, ridicule the pampered pets for their devotion to humans. They also run into a pair of junkyard dog-thugs and a dimwit duo of dognappers. The latter encounters are Stooge-like farces -- cheap and bone-wearying substitutions for valiant adventures. Even the one heroic feat is ruined by awkward staging and poor human performances. The sequel does have some fine and funny moments (canine baseball commentating, for one) but, with an appetite whetted by the earlier picture, I came away from Homeward Bound II hungry for better fare.