Pocahontas II: Summery/Commentary

by Jen South

With animation that hasn't been seen in a straight-to-video move before, our story begins.  Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.  Just picture it: Gulls circle a dark, moon painted section of London.  The boats creak in the nearby harbor and the music whispers and softly moans in warning as the camera pans slowly upward to the single light still burning in the darkened world.  Look with me now.  In that window.  At the man standing, bathed in golden light, his back to us as he ponders the great mysteries of life. Like why, for instance, is the English postal system so bad in 17th century England and why isn't there any merchandising for his movie when Disney's already raking in big bucks for the next Lion King feature?  Unknown to our blond stranger, he's breaking curfew by having his light on after hours and the SWAT team is even now circling his one room apartment. At the appropriately dramatic moment, carefully timed to match the upsurge in music, the soldiers burst into the room only to find their quarry gone. With his usual style and crooked grin, the stranger, John Smith (like that surprised you) gets the jump on the crew (quite literally) and makes good his escape in some of the best scenes in the entire movie. Pursued and finally cornered for his unpaid back taxes while he was away in Virginia, John Smith is quite gleefully dropped into the murky water far below him (don't throw me in the briar patch) by the reappearance of an even thicker necked Ratcliff, proving that, if you don't drop the villain from a great height in the first movie, he's bound to show up in the sequels. Meanwhile, the English king, a man ahead of his times in his footwear fashion sense, decides that waiting for the peace envoy he just sent to the New World is taking too long, they should have sent him by plane, not boat. Besides, war, peace, what's the difference?  One can only feel sympathy for his queen and think that this must be an argument against arranged marriages. John Rolfe, the peace ambassador, another John because, even back then it was still the "single most popular boys' name",  got the job because no one else wanted it, and realizes too late that maybe he should have done sometime called "research" before he arrived in the New World.  Despite it all, our heroine, Pocahontas, manages to find the point behind his arrival and, with nothing to do now that her best friend is married and doesn't call her or write to her or even mention the last five letters she's gotten, not like its so hard to pick up a phone every now and then - sheesh, you'd think that getting married gives you the expected duty of forgetting your single friends or something like tha- oh - sorry.  Where was I?  Oh yes.  So Pocahontas decides to go to London to see the king. Besides, she's heard that he's putting together a new version of the Bible and she wants to remind him not to make this one so thunkingly heavy. Impressed with any man daring enough to wear pants that large and brightly colored in spite of what it makes him look like, Powhatan only sends one warrior to guard his daughter.  With all that circus tent fabric, he figures Rolfe must have at least two or three other men hidden away in his striped pants in case of emergency. Meeko, Percy, and Flit stow away aboard the departing ship and provide the passengers and crew with hours of amusement much to everyone's relief after the first few thousand rounds of "100 bottles of beer on the wall" "I spy with my little eye something that starts with W" and the continuous chorus of "are we almost there?". After an exhausting voyage that appears, by the animation, to take a day, the ship finally docks in the harbor of London.  Luckily the town is packed with people just bursting with song and Pocahontas,  wearing her soon-to-be-patented mini skirt (guaranteed to never show anything that shouldn't be seen no matter how long you hang upside down from tree branches) is still as bursting with curiosity and eloquence as ever. Arriving at the Rolfe household (empty of any members of Rolfes' family who learned he was returning a week early and hastily departed for their "summer" residence) Pocahontas is introduced to Mrs. Jenkins, who's point in the movie seems to be - well - hmmm… who's point in the movie seems to be a vague, disquieting warning about the dangers of tea addiction. Rolfe then goes to see the king with news of his success only to be greeted by Ratcliff's smirking face and an invitation to the Hunt Ball, which will occur directly after the Fishing Ball and be followed by the Bar-B-Q Ball. Ratcliff also checkmate's the king's chess piece and even to me, living in democracy, beating the king at any game, much less chess, seems to be a very bad political move. As already proven, Pocahontas is willing to sacrifice a great deal for her people and so she agrees to undergo the tortures of things like corsets and hoop shirts and metal shoes that are interchangeable because no one has invented the notion of right and left feet yet.  There's a cute incident involving underwear but the accompanying song by Mrs. Jenkins is enough to rip the ears off your head.  Or at least make you wish you could. Once Rolfe and Pocahontas arrive at the ball they are accosted by (count them) a woman in the Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland) dress, prince Philip's drunk father (Sleeping Beauty), and a woman who uses the word "drippingly" and must have a point behind her even if I can't seem to find it.  There's also a dance and I swear I've seen Pocahontas' first partner somewhere before.  Pocahontas and Ratcliff engage in a brief wrestling match "just for old time's sake" and then the caterers arrive and "dinner is served". Or at least it should be, except that the entertainment has been scheduled first and the clowns arrive.  One can only imagine that the king must be fuming that he can't open his presents until after the cake and ice cream is served. After being treated to a magic show that includes headless bodies, bodiless heads, and encouraged crowd mockery, Pocahontas is finally faced with Ratchiff's evil plan.  The original actor set to portray the "Beast" in Beauty and the Beast is led in and summarily tormented and humiliated with stacked graphs and video clips from Good Morning America showing how much the "real Beast" is now making in bow tie endorsements alone.  Pocahontas feels pity for him and when he breaks down and cries:  "My agent told me it wasn't a wise career move.  That I'd be trapped in a stereotype for the rest of my life", she feels union bound to step in and stop the torture. Sensing his opportunity, Ratcliff convinces the king to have her arrested which is greeted with cries of "Off with her head" from a certain, easily excited member of the court who usually spends most of her time living in a world inhabited by large white rabbits and drunk mice. (Another warning against the dangers of tea drinking?) As the palace guards drag Pocahontas away, she fights the panic that comes from realizing that she is about to be separated from the only person who can get her safely back to her people and out of this insane world.  After watching the entire incident from the safety of his chair, Rolfe makes a daring decision.  Leaping to his feet he storms home to file a formal complaint. While Pocahontas quickly changes into a cheaper version of her first dress and uses her glass jewelry as fishing lures to catch herself some dinner out the window of her prison, Rolfe restlessly paces his garden. Hopelessly despondent that the wording of his letter just doesn't feel strong enough, he sinks down to sit under a tree.  If only he hadn't lost his thesaurus, he'd be able to come up with another word that means "please". Suddenly the music swells and, sensing the arrival of the hero of the story, Rolfe turns to find a "mysterious stranger" has easily circumnavigated his expensive security system and invaded his privacy.  The fight scene that ensued is dropped from the film due to lack of interest. On the "mysterious stranger's" part, that is. Finally propelled, and goaded and prodded and kicked and pushed and threatened, into action, Rolfe rows a small boat into the Tower of London's flooded basement where the guards are too busy squabbling over who should have called the plumber before they tried to fix the leaky pipe to cause too much trouble. Tired of Rolfe standing around waiting for something to happen (the Second Coming, maybe?) the "myster - oh, you know who it is! distracts the guards. Luckily Flit has brains the size of - well, a humming bird, and leads Rolfe to the cell Pocahontas is being kept in. Overcome with relief to be spared having to try to make small talk with her bodyguard anymore, Pocahontas throws herself gratefully into Rolfe's arms. Never having touched a woman before, Rolfe mumbles a vague hint about building a theme park in Virginia and quickly introduces her to the "mysterious stranger".  Who turns out to be - you guessed it !  Good old Michael Eisner!  Yeah, right.  All right, so its John Smith.  Anyone surprised? After a hurried reunion, the group makes a daring midnight escape (daring because curfew is still being strictly enforced) and flee the city.  Or at least they end up in a very run down, overgrown section of the city.  It was hard to tell, neither of the men stopped and asked for directions. Meanwhile, Mrs. Jenkins slowly sinks into a tea induced stupor. Back at camp, Rolfe and John Smith get into a disinterested argument over how Pocahontas is going to help her people, if she's going to help her people, and most importantly, who really had the map when they left the Tower. Still suffering from the effects of prison induced claustrophobia, Pocahontas makes a sudden break for the door and dashes like (I kid you not) a bunny rabbit into the misty woods.  This gives John Smith the opportunity to confront Rolfe about his feelings for Pocahontas and Rolfe responds with a look that indicates that a bug might just have crawled up his nose. Calming herself in front of what looks like the beheaded version of Grandmother Willow, Pocahontas comes to the realization that unless she gets this whole English-induced mess sorted out, she's not going to be able to get home in time for the annul Easter egg hunt on the tribal chief's longhouse's lawn.  John Smith half heartedly voices some insincere protests, with an apologetic look that says "its in the script", and, realizing that her mother's necklace has no monetary value, Rolfe finally returns it to her. Back at the palace, the king and his long suffering wife are meeting with Parliament, who are busy trying to decide that, if the king shows up in nothing but his royal cape and royal long underwear and the royal Goofy shoes, is it all right for them to have a "relaxed dress code" on Fridays too.  Pocahontas' arrival in her trademark buckskin mini provides distraction enough and, with the elegance and panache of Perry Mason, she convinces the king to avoid war with her people.  John Smith makes a dramatically appropriate entrance at a pivotal moment and some way, something, somehow makes it through to the king that "things are not as they appear". Not bothering to waste time gathering the king's soldiers, the fearless trio and their respective sidekicks head off to the docks just in time to jump, swing, swim, and crawl aboard Ratcliff's departing ship.  A wonderful fight scene ensues and, when Pocahontas drops the ship's anchor, all that can be heard for miles is the overhead hum of traffic helicopters as a huge pile-up unfolds in the harbor. Still the unchallenged hero of the story, John Smith eventually takes on Ratcliff in a duel to the death.  Or rather a duel that lasts until John uses some of those rugged good moves of his and takes the sword away from Ratcliff.  But wait!  Ratcliff has a gun!  He's going to shot John Smith! Again!  Oh no!  No, wait,  its raining and flintlocks don't work when their gun powder gets wet.  Oh, well, nice try. Rolfe clocks Ratcliff on the head with a swinging boom (the part of the sail, not the sound effect) anyway and Ratcliff gets swung out over the water where, if you listen closely, you can hear the sound of a clock ticking as something green circles in the water below.  John Smith's stunt double (Eric from the Little Mermaid in a blond wig) stands up and the animation goes down hill from there.  But other than that, the day is saved!  Our heroes have won! Or have they? Back at the castle, John Smith is flocked with women (not a single good looking lady in the lot), Pocahontas' stunt double steps in to fill for her (Irene Bedard in animated form), and Rolfe gets to wear a new shirt.  While John Smith is convincing the band to play "Getting Jiggy With It" Irene and Rolfe have an uncomfortable conversation as they stand around the punch bowl and wait for John Smith to arrive.  Which, of course, being the hero, he does. With Rolfe sinking quickly back into historical obscurity, Pocahontas and John Smith bid each other a cheesy parting farewell.  After which they both burst into laughter and the kiss that follows is cut from the movie, being considered too long for young, impressionable viewers. The next day, Pocahontas, in the beginning throes of small pox fever, boards the wrong ship and instead of finding John Smith at the wheel, discovers a dandified Rolfe lurking in the shadows.  His sudden appearance and the fear that he is going to insist that she wear a corset again combined with the fever push her over the edge into delirium and what Rolfe mistakes for her melting into his arms is actually her passing out. The ship, full of seal farmers bound for Antarctica, gets caught in the setting sun as the ship sails out of the harbor and bursts into flame. Most of the crew and passengers go down with the ship but Rolfe is able to get away on one of the few lifeboats by pretending to be a lost child's father. And as the thick smoke rises from the sinking remains of the aptly titled Really, Really Big Ship, and the credits begin to roll, we, the audience, can only sigh in relief, knowing, in our heart of hearts, that there's still room for yet another sequel. * * * * * * The End

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