What story is there left to tell exactly? Why does the 1942 Disney classic “Bambi” need a sequel? Truly, no sequel is needed since “Bambi” is a true classic and is one of the great animated movies in film history. At the end of “Bambi” Bambi himself was grown and found a mate and was to raise his own family. The same for Flower and Thumper. When I first heard of “Bambi II” I assumed that somehow this would be the same exact story that we had in the first movie, except that it would be about Bambi raising his son and the new fawn would go on adventures. What else would the sequel be about?
Quite a bit, apparently. “Bambi II” is not quite a sequel as it is “Bambi 1.5”. In between Bambi (Alex Gould) being a young fawn after his mother’s death and him growing up at the end of the first movie there is all sorts of adventure and growing up and finding a mate that really wasn’t covered in “Bambi”. That’s what “Bambi II” is: a sequel to the first part of “Bambi” and a prequel to the ending.
Here Bambi is raised by his father, The Great Prince (voice of Patrick Stewart). Bambi misses his mother very much and his father only knows how to be the solitary ruler of the forest. The Great Prince is disappointed in Bambi and Bambi wants desperately to earn his approval. But the first part of the movie is very lighthearted all the same and features some romping and adventure with Bambi, Thumper, and Flower. Bambi has a rival fawn, a slightly older deer who has started to grow antlers and is named Ronald.
The animation here is very reminiscent of the original film and stands up quite well in comparison. “Bambi II” seems to be drawn in a more classical style compared to much of the CG animation being done these days.
I suppose “Bambi II” is very much your typical coming of age movie with struggles for acceptance, and the eventual growth (we know just where the story has to go because it ties into the end of “Bambi”), but it is surprisingly good. I expected a junky direct to video sequel with no amount of fun or interest involved (for an example, see “Kronk’s New Groove”…or better yet: don’t), but I was wrong. This is a cute, fun family movie. Clocking it at only 73 minutes, this is a movie that is better than it has a right to be and one that does not ruin memories of the original. The original may not have needed a sequel, but the sequel measures up as well as it possibly could be.
The DVD is a little bit light on special features, but this should not be too surprising on a straight to video release. There are two games “Thumper’s Hurry and Scurry” and “Disney’s Sketch Pad” Thumper’s game has you navigate through the forest to find Thumper. This game could get frustrating for the littlest ones. “Disney’s Sketch Pad” has one of the Disney animators giving a lesson on how to draw Thumper and advice to young artists who might want to get into animation. Inserting the DVD into a DVD-ROM on a computer gives you the chance to print out pages of the animation to compare to while you try to draw thumper. It’s a nice little lesson.
There is also a documentary called “The Legacy Continues” which is about, as one might imagine, the continuing legacy of “Bambi” and how this sequel comes about. The final bonus feature is a trivia track which runs through the movie.
I can only hope that if Disney does more needless sequels (and we know they will), that this is the bar the filmmakers will shoot for because it is one of the best needless sequel I’ve seen from Disney.