Animated leftovers

Somebody needs to remind the folks at Disney what "happily ever after" means.

This week, "101 Dalmatians II" hits video stores - not to be confused with "102 Dalmatians," the live-action sequel to "101 Dalmatians," again, not be confused with the 1961 animated feature of the same name. (Still with me?)

Now might be a good time to mention that Dodie Smith wrote another wonderful children's book, "I Capture the Castle."

Next month, Mowgli and Baloo head back to the jungle. In March, Piglet becomes the latest denizen of The Hundred Acre Wood to get his name in the title (at this point, Rabbit should sue his agent). And later this year, Milo returns from the sea in "Atlantis II." In fact, the only animated feature scheduled for release under the Disney label that isn't either a sequel or a rerelease is Pixar's "Finding Nemo." It's especially sad for fans when one glances back to Disney's glory days of the 1990s - and then looks at the shelves of great, untapped children's literature. Looking for fairy tales? Three words for you: "The Snow Queen." At last count, there were still 1,000 Arabian nights left. (Dreamworks is releasing "Sinbad" this year, so make that 999.)

This brings us to the great debate over computer vs. traditional animation. According to accepted wisdom, Americans are tired of looking at two-dimensional drawings - and talented artists at Disney and other studios are being laid off by the score as more work is farmed out overseas. To me, that's like saying no one wants to eat lasagna any more, so pull it from the menu. The fact is, it's not necessarily choosing between, say, chicken parmigiana and lasagna - it's more that nobody is that interested in leftover pasta.

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