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The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 (June 17/02)

Disney's neverending quest to cash in on their own properties continues with yet another sequel nobody asked for. But, oddly enough, it works here because of a story that doesn't feel unnecessarily grand; The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 seems like just another few days in the lives of these characters we've already been introduced to.

The movie picks up a few years after the original left off, and Quasimodo is still toiling in the bell tower along with his three stone gargoyle friends. He's happy enough, but still longs to find someone to love. No longer fixated on Esmerelda, Quasi has become good friends with her and her little boy. Meanwhile, the circus has come into town, bringing with it the evil ringleader who has designs on a spectacular bell watched over by Quasi. He sends in an innocent tight-rope walker to keep Quasimodo distracted while he figures out how to steal the valuable antique. But little does he realize that his supposed diversion is falling for the hunchback, a feeling that is mutual for the lonely Quasi.

It's not an over-the-top storyline; rather, it's an enjoyable enough little adventure that doesn't require one to have seen the first film. The songs aren't exactly memorable and the animation is nowhere near the stunning quality of a Disney theatrical release, but the movie does have a certain amount of charm about it. That's due in no small part to the fact that every actor who voiced a character in the original has returned, most notably Tom Hulce as the Hunchback. He, along with actors like Kevin Kline and Demi Moore, belies the small budget of the film and turns in some stellar voice work.

Look, the target audience for The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 is clearly young kids, and they'll no doubt eat this simple tale up with a spoon. But adults will probably also get a kick out of it, if only because it's not the overloaded extravaganza far too many children's movies tend to be (Scooby Doo, I'm looking in your direction).

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