WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (1974) was a sentimental boy-and-his-dogs flick that made no pretense of being art. What it did make was a mint, barnstorming around the country for years as a wholesome, G-rated independent release. This belated sequel, unleashed on home video in 1994 but bearing
a 1991 copyright, wrings the formula bone dry.
Billy (Doug McKeon), Depression-era kid hero of the first movie, returns to his Ozark home after losing a leg in World War II. To cure the young man's malaise, wise Grandpa (Wilford Brimley) gives him yet another pair of redbone hound pups. The dogs are named Old Dan and Little Anne, after the
devoted coon-hunting canines in the first WTRFG, but now that hunting's politically incorrect in movies, the ensuing raccoon safaris are mostly bloodless and unsuccessful. Billy finally faces his angst one cathartic night when Old Dan is killed by a tumble out of a tree. Grandpa, terminally ill,
delivers a folksy speech about God's will and kicks the bucket. Feeling better, Billy moves to Los Angeles to take a job offer.
Conspicuously cheap-looking, and lacking whatever spark drove its predecessor, WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS PART TWO resides in the doldrums; not even marathon closeups of those cute puppies can lift it out. McKeon and Brimley (the latter taking over a role originated by James Whitmore) can't do
much with the material. The only real surprise is Chad McQueen, non-lookalike son of superstar Steve, as Billy's army pal Rainie, a former carouser striving to behave like a gentleman as he courts Billy's sister Sara (Lisa Welchel). The junior McQueen has often been awkwardly cast as a B-movie
action hero in imitation of his late father; here he's nicely unaffected and natural as the would-be suitor. The character is also an inside irony for devotees of the first film, in which the young Rainie was brother to a backwoods bully accidentally stabbed to death by Billy. That the sequel
doesn't dwell on this point is one of its few subtleties.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (1974) was a sentimental boy-and-his-dogs flick that made no pretense of being art. What it did make was a mint, barnstorming around the country for years as a wholesome, G-rated independent release. This belated sequel, unleashed… (more)