Homeward Bound Ii: Lost In San Francisco

on March 08, 1996 by Joseph McBride
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After "Babe," an animal movie that doesn't use lipsynching seems almost primitive. "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco" features a bunch of dogs and cats not moving their mouths while aimless chatter and wisecracks fill the soundtrack in voiceover. This sequel is serviceable family-market fodder, but even little children might expect something more sophisticated these days.
   Following in the pawprints of Disney's 1993 "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" and the studio's 1963 version, "The Incredible Journey," this one has the family pets stranded in an urban environment rather than in the wilderness. The usual stunning San Francisco vistas add visual interest, but much of the movie takes place in grungy alleyways and streets that could be anywhere. (Some scenes were filmed in Vancouver.)
   Debutin g helmer David R. Ellis (an experienced stunt coordinator and second-unit director) has a lively filming style, using low-slung tracking shots to conveys the animals' points of view, but the story (using characters created by Sheila Burnford in her novel "The Incredible Journey") lacks tension or suspense. Perhaps the animals are jaded this time around, getting tired of humans leaving them behind, but they don't seem terribly eager to get home. The film dawdles with a yawn-inducing romance between the bulldog Chance (voiced by Michael J. Fox) and a sultry pooch named Delilah ("Miami Rhapsody's" Carla Gugino), while streetwise Riley ("Houseguest's" Sinbad) adds welcome edge to the proceedings.
   Thoug h it might be a plot necessity for the humans in these movies to be somewhat ineffectual, the dad and mom (again played by Robert Hays and Kim Greist) appear so dimwitted in "Homeward Bound II" that it seems unfortunate their pets bother returning home. Starring Robert Hays and Kim Greist. Voices by Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, Ralph Waite and Sinbad. Directed by David R. Ellis. Written by Chris Hauty and Julie Hickson. Produced by Barry Jossen. A Buena Vista release. Drama. Rated G. Running time: 88 min
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