“All Dogs Go to Heaven 2” won’t be bow-wowing them at the box office. Even under the best of circumstances, this bland follow-up to the 1989 animated adventure would be hard-pressed to fetch many paying customers. But with Disney craftily timing its reissue of “Oliver & Company” to compete for family audiences, this premiere effort of MGM’s newly established animation division likely will roll over and play dead. Like its predecessor, however, the sequel may collar a few bucks once it’s diverted to video.
The first “Heaven” cast Burt Reynolds as the voice of Charlie Barkin, a raffish mongrel who earned his wings as an angel by helping an orphan girl. For the sequel, Charlie Sheen provides Charlie’s speaking voice, while Jesse Corti does the warbling whenever Charlie has to sing.
“Heaven 2” begins with Charlie utterly bored by the sunny predictability of Dog Heaven, where bones are plentiful and fleas are not allowed. Even after he’s reunited with his best buddy, the newly deceased Itchy (voice by Dom DeLuise), Charlie yearns to return to Earth.
Both dogs have their day when the villainous Carface (Ernest Borgnine) bungles his attempt to steal Gabriel’s Horn and it plummets to San Francisco. Charlie and Itchy are assigned to retrieve the trumpet. Trouble is, Charlie doesn’t take the assignment very seriously.
While Charlie spends most of his time sniffing after a beautiful Irish setter named Sasha (Sheena Easton), Carface tries to give the devil his due. Red (George Hearn), a demonic cat, uses Carface as a pawn in his quest for Gabriel’s Horn, which he plans to use to keep all dogs permanently penned inside Alcatraz.
When Carface fails in his appointed task, Red tricks Charlie and Itchy into helping him by giving them magical collars that allow them to be seen and heard by mortal dogs. And humans.
Under the direction of Paul Sabella and Larry Leker, “Heaven 2” ambles along with all the zip of an arthritic schnauzer. Sporadically, the action stalls while the characters perform one of the derivative tunes written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and the artwork is passably witty during Red’s rendition of “It Feels So Good to Be Bad.” Small children with short attention spans may get restless at various points during the pic.
Judging from the closing credits — which list animators from Taiwan, Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, France and Thailand –“Heaven 2” provided gainful employment at studios throughout the world. Unfortunately, the finished product is undistinguished. Particularly disappointing are the Dog Heaven sequences, which appear washed-out and are inadequately detailed.
As for the chief vocal talents, DeLuise (a holdover from the first “Heaven”) and Borgnine get most of the laughs, and Hearn is adequately menacing. Sheen and Easton bring surprisingly little personality to their efforts.
Adam Wylie is OK as the voice for David, an 8-year-old runaway whose endangerment provides Charlie with a chance for redemption. This character, incidentally, is the only human in the entire pic to be drawn with as much detail as the dogs.