Bambi II
directed by Brian Pimental
(Disney, 2006)

I expected to be disappointed, but really wasn't. I will not give away too much here, but will address six aspects of this DVD: the themes addressed, the level of anthropomorphism, the technical quality, the target age-level, the special features and the music.

1. There is no real plot, in a linear beginning-middle-end storyline sense, and the movie instead is more of a slice-of-life story that focuses on two themes. Theme one is Bambi's father, voiced superbly by Patrick Stewart, trying to figure how to become a good single parent, get closer to his son (instead of overfocusing on teaching him to be the Young Prince) and enjoy life, along with being responsible. This theme is very well done, as far as I'm concerned. The second theme is the true meaning of courage, and a rivalry between Bambi and another fawn, Ronno (who tries too hard to impress everyone and comes off as a bully) is the showcase for that, with Thumper giving interesting advice. This theme was launched, but remains unfinished, and might be the basis for the next sequel (my guess).

2. While the original Bambi contains a high level of anthropomorphism (attributing human qualities to animals), Bambi II goes one step further, including several errors in depicting animal behavior that go beyond anthropomorphism to the edge of absurdity (e.g., a downy baby duck coming in for a landing right beside its parents, an opossum family "playing possum" as if on cue, all the animals gathering to see if the groundhog would see his shadow). If another sequel is planned, consulting an ethologist is highly recommended.

3. The technical quality of the film is high. They matched the lush colors of the original, and almost matched the level of detail, although some of the backgrounds are too fuzzy.

4. The target audience for the original was children, but the film found some appeal to many adults. Bambi II is aimed at children, and hits that target squarely, but is likely to have less appeal to adults.

5. The special features include interviews with three of the stars (the perfectly-cast Stewart as the Prince, Alexander Gould as Bambi and Brendon Baerg as the irrepressible Thumper), information on how the animators figured out how to draw deer and rabbits, a hide-and-seek game featuring Thumper and educational tags.

6. The music is likely my least favorite aspect of the film. The background musical score is fine, but the songs are too Pollyanna and light for me.

So, does Bambi II match the original? It does not. Bambi is a moment of movie magic that still stands as some of the most beautiful animation ever done, with a powerful story.

Is Bambi II a good movie for kids? Yes, it is. And watch out for porcupines.

by Chris McCallister
4 February 2006

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