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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Cheetah Girls 2
The Cheetah Girls 2
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // G // November 28, 2006
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Cornelius | posted November 30, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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OK, before we get to the part where the stuffy old guy talks about how he didn't think "Cheetah Girls 2" was the slightest bit good, please allow the stuffy old guy to first say this: if you liked "The Cheetah Girls," and if you watch "That's So Raven" regularly, then yeah, you're probably really going to like "Cheetah Girls 2." It is a movie whose sole intent is to charm tween-age girls, and by that measure, sure, it works.

Now comes the stuffy old guy part:

I have never seen "The Cheetah Girls," the immensely popular Disney Channel Original Movie which, along with "That's So Raven," helped launch Raven-Symoné into teenybopper stardom, far removed from being merely "that girl who helped ruin 'The Cosby Show.'" Despite having a young daughter, I have somehow managed to avoid for several years now the adventures of the pop quartet, adventures which I assume involve some combination of shopping, dancing, and/or screaming happily while jumping up and down in that way teenage girls tend to do.

Fortunately, although I have been required to review "Cheetah Girls 2," I have discovered that one needs no real knowledge of the goings-on of the first film in order to figure things out. There are these girls, and they sing, and that's about all there is to it, really.

For their second adventure, the girls - Galleria (Raven-Symoné), Chanel (Adrienne Bailon), Dorinda (Sabrina Bryan), and Aquanette (Kiely Williams) - head to Barcelona in the summer before their senior year in high school to compete in an amateur music contest. Once there, Galleria becomes upset that everyone would rather go shopping instead of rehearse. Meanwhile, Chanel isn't too fond of her mom's boyfriend, Dorinda meets a hunky Spanish dude, and the girls find a rival in a young starlet (played by real-life teen diva Belinda). The band breaks up, they get back together, they're out-schemed by the young starlet's villainous manager-mother, and, of course, they go shopping.

It's the sort of thing one would imagine Barbie would spend her summer doing if she were a real person and not a ten dollar hunk of plastic. Which isn't too far off the mark - the Cheetahs are something of an ultimate girl fantasy, best pals who dress fabulously, get famous, and meet cute boys.

But as a movie, it doesn't work. The songs are bland, generic, overproduced bubblegum pop, and the dance numbers are a snooze. That's a bit of a surprise, considering director/choreographer Kenny Ortega also delivered the lively "High School Musical," a Disney movie so popular that Ortega has actually become a marketable name to the Mouse House crowd despite a career built on TV movies. Where Ortega's "High School Musical" was bouncy and catchy, the musical sequences here are drab and uninspired, mainly due to the screenplay's assembly-line plot and characters whose only real stand-out traits are their colorful names.

Even the basic premise reveals a lack of imagination or interest: once again, popular characters get rounded up and sent to Europe. Disney took the idea to the big screen with their "Lizzie McGuire" movie, and here, they don't change things much. Give the girls some light conflict in the friends department, throw in a romance or two, and make sure there are enough songs to fill up a soundtrack CD. It's not a movie, it's part of a marketing machine. (Actually, it's the lack of story and character that makes it not a movie, but you get the idea.)

Surprisingly, the popularity of "The Cheetah Girls" franchise (Disney followed the movie by putting the band - minus Raven-Symoné - on a concert tour) was enough to make "Cheetah Girls 2" the highest-rated movie in Disney Channel history, even topping the powerhouse of "High School Musical." Sadly, the movie's quality just isn't up to what ratings like that deserve. Even by Disney Channel standards, this sequel is weak and shrill and not at all fun.

But that's just a stuffy old guy talking.

The DVD

"Cheetah Girls 2" arrives on DVD in a hideously named "Cheetah-licious Edition," which includes the extended version of the movie (I'm unable to tell what exactly is different from the broadcast version, but I believe the ending has been extended, resulting in yet another overlong musical number) and a "sing-along version," which is nothing more than the extended version with karaoke subtitles over the songs.

Video

Once again, Disney releases one of their made-for-TV films in a full screen format, as originally broadcast, even though it was filmed in widescreen for future HDTV use. (Clips of the film used in the bonus material is shown in widescreen.) I'll let you argue amongst yourselves as to which is the "correct" ratio; I vote for full screen, considering the wider HD version as an "open matte" for the digital age.

Anyway. While not impressive, the presentation here is crisp and solid. The film's cinematography does little to show off the Spanish vistas, but that's no flaw of the transfer itself.

Audio

The Dolby 5.1 is also decent, with the musical numbers coming in quite clearly. Optional Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

A music video (3:19) for "Dance With Me" (performed by Drew Seeley and Belinda) mixes clips from the movie with shots of the singers dancing in a nightclub.

"Cheetah Tips: How To Be Cheetah-licious" (9:55) has the group offering up fashion advice, and then there's a tour of the wardrobe department. Fans will like it enough.

The disc rounds out with the usual assortment of Disney trailers and previews.

Final Thoughts

If you're seriously thinking about picking up "Cheetah Girls 2," chances are you have no need for this review, really. But for others curious as to what the fuss is all about when it comes to these Disney Channel movies and/or the Cheetahs, just remember that they're made for young girls and nobody else, and Disney isn't kidding about the "nobody else" part. To the general public: Skip It. To the Cheetah fans: the disc will give you plenty of what you want, making it Recommended.
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