Director – Paul Sabella, Screenplay – Arne Olsen, Kelly Ward & Mark Young, Story – Ward & Young, Producers – Sabella, Ward, Young & Jonathan Dern, Music – Mark Walters, Songs – Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Animation Director – Todd Waterman, Art Direction – Deane Taylor. Production Company – MGM Animation.
Charlie Sheen (Charlie Barkin), Dom de Luise (Itchy Itchiford), Sheena Easton (Sasha La Fleur), Adam Wylie (David), Ernest Borgnine (Carface Carruthers), George Hearn (Red), Bebe Neuwirth (Annabelle)
Up in Dog Heaven, Charlie Barkin is joined by his old friend Itchy, but feels bored with the constant perfection of the afterlife. Charlie’s old nemesis Carface escapes down to Earth with Gabriel’s Horn, which opens the gates of Dog Heaven. Charlie eagerly elects to go down and retrieve it. Along with Itchy, he is sent down to San Francisco. However, Charlie becomes sidetracked in his mission by the beautiful singer Sasha La Fleur – but is unable to do anything as they are only insubstantial ghosts on Earth. Carface then takes them to the seer Red who gives them magical collars that give them corporeal bodies again. Charlie readily accepts his collar so that he can woo Sasha. However, Red is in fact a cat agent of the underworld who is using the collars as part of a diabolical plan to obtain the Horn.
This is a sequel to Don Bluth’s modest All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989). This time around neither Bluth nor his studio are involved – the only returnee from the original is Dom de Luise again voicing the part of Itchy.
Instead, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 has been made by an MGM subsidiary, MGM Animation – although this is not an actual studio merely, it appears, a coordinating body with the actual animation having been shipped out to be animation studios around the world – the credits list studios in a mind-boggling eight countries (South Korea, France, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Thailand Ireland). MGM later spun the rather slight concept out as a tv series, All Dogs Go to Heaven (1996-8), which lasted for three seasons.
All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 starts out blandly. When the film visits a bar (albeit a doggie bar) and you see that all it serves is root beer, you get a sinking feeling. The doggie version of Heaven has a dreary insipidity – it looks more like a prim dog obedience school than the afterlife. Not to mention the big gaping plausibility hole of how come a villain like Carface ended up there – isn’t Heaven meant to be the place for the pure of heart?
Certainly, once down on Earth, the film offers some nicely stylized oil colour renditions of San Francisco’s backgrounds. It also develops the interesting Devil figure (a cat), which adds a darker undertow and good-evil counterbalance that was not present in the original, which only superficially dealt with a vision of doggie Heaven. And in fact the character arc of Charlie’s transformation to care about the kid is dealt with in stronger ways than it was in the first film. There are some engaging slapstick sequences running through a cop station and with a cop car pursuing the heroes on a bike through the street, and the show ends on a rousing supernatural climax.