Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (Special Edition)

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True was a direct-to-DVD sequel released in 2002. Many Disney purists held their noses when this DVD was originally released, but a lot of parents (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) bought it for kids who loved the character and didn’t care about the lower level of animation, storytelling, or music the sequel presented. Disney stopped selling it by 2004, but where there is money to be made, the Mouse House never scruples to keep a product from the paying public. The current “Special Edition” hits the shelves just in time for Christmas. Two words if you’re too lazy to read the whole review: AVOID IT. This direct-to-DVD sequel of one of the best loved Disney animated movie musicals, Cinderella, is just as crappy as you expect it will be. The movie is not set up as one coherent story; rather it strings together three unrelated stories using Cinderella’s mice buddies and the Fairy Godmother as framing devices. The mice, led by Gus (Corey Burton) and Jaq (Rob Paulsen), want to put together a book of stories for Cinderella (Jennifer Hale.) The Fairy Godmother (Russi Taylor) helps them out and listens to them tell the stories, which, of course, unfold right in front of the poor unsuspecting viewer.

All of the stories involve some sort of variation on the theme of “be true to yourself.” Cinderella tries to plan a ball soon after her marriage and is pressured to look and act the role of princess. She ultimately realizes that she needs to stand-up for herself and act the way she is most comfortable. The second story is a Brady Bunch rip-off with Jaq wishing he was bigger and the Fairy Godmother turning him into a man. Only as a shrimpy little mouse can he really help out. We just need Greg and Bobby stuck in Sam’s meat locker and it’s 1972 all over again. The last story involves formerly wenchy step-sister Anastasia (Tress MacNeille) wanting to get next to a baker, much to the chagrin of her still wenchy mother. Of course, Cinderella counsels following her heart and Anastasia stands-up to her mother.

All of these simplistic and beaten to death after-schoolish morals are presented in a cheap television quality animation style. It makes a fan of the original movie wonder if it was lack of time, money, or interest that caused them to reduce the quality so much. Even other DVD sequels from Disney have had better animation quality than is presented here. Unlike the original, this is not a musical, with characters bursting into song to help convey their emotions. Rather, some horrible pop princess type songs are given the montage treatment in each section. Everything presented on the screen screams cheap, trite, crass, and derivative.

This is a movie geared squarely at 5 year olds and they will probably enjoy it. If your kid is any older than that, skip this and get the original or at the very least the mildly-better Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. No one without very young children should go anywhere near this thing. Although simply releasing many of their direct-to-DVD sequels shows Disney as a company that has often cared more about profit than art, this release sets a new low. Advertised as a “Special Edition” the release contains one additional extra not included in the 2002 release. Since the extra is a game that will only appeal to either very young children or the mentally incompetent, it hardly justifies calling this release a “Special Edition.” If you have the version released in 2002, do not buy this version thinking you are getting something different.

The new game is called “Race to the Royal Ball” and involves using your DVD remote to move Jaq and Gus through three very simple games to get them to Cinderella’s ball on time. This reportedly kept the interest of my six year old niece but even my ten year old couldn’t stay with it for more than a minute or two. It’s just lame. The other game is along the same lines. It’s called “Cinderella’s Enchanted Castle” and involves item recognition. If you know that logs in a fireplace can burn, you have mastered the knowledge needed to play this game.

The other item that may appeal to the very, very young is a DVD storybook. It’s a basic story about Jaq and Mary, two of the mice. Two options for either “read along” or “read to yourself” are provided. If your child is just learning to read and you don’t have any books (or cereal boxes) in your house, this is good for 10 minutes of diversion in your life.

The final two extras are related to the music in the movie. One, “Musical Magic,” is a five minute explanation to someone at the kindergarten level of how movie music works. The movie’s composer talks about how he writes the music and who plays it. It’s very basic, but might be of some interest to a young child. The extra also shows the recording of the movie’s three awful song by someone named Brooke Allison. The second extra is a video for one of the songs, “Put it Together,” performed by Allison. All the songs are very processed vocals over forgettable music that sounds put together on a computer.

This is the worst example of the direct-to-DVD sequel that Disney has put out. Some of the others have a redeeming feature and a couple are not half bad. This one, unfortunately, is awful in almost every way. As I noted at the beginning, AVOID IT.