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'Deerly' beloved Greedy trend of sequelization continues with cutesy 'Bambi II'

Hurry, before it's too late. You only have 70 days -- actually 67 from today -- to purchase "Bambi II."

That's the "marketing" campaign being used to sell the ill-advised sequel to "Bambi," one of Disney's greatest animated films.

In this day and age where movies are now "franchises" complete with numbers after titles, the troubled Disney studio is returning to its beloved classics like "Cinderella" and sequelizing them. Now comes "Bambi II" ($29.99, Buena Vista Home Video).

The reasoning behind this direct-to-video movie was to make "a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the inception" of "Bambi." (Yes, that's inception, not anniversary.)

I don't buy it, but many people will.

To be honest, the nicely compact 64-minute movie is cute even if the reasoning behind it smacks of greed. It can't help but be adorable with those endearing original characters, including Bambi, Thumper and Flower. The story picks up right where the original "Bambi" ended with Bambi being led away after his mother's death by his father, the Great Prince of the Forest (regally voiced by Patrick Stewart).

Dad wants to go about his princely duties and find a suitable doe to care for Bambi; but Friend Owl convinces him to keep Bambi until the spring, thereby providing ample time for bonding.

Be sure to watch this movie with preschoolers or impressionable youngsters. The story deals with Bambi's pain and fears from his mother's death; and there are frightening scenes where Bambi is attacked by a pack of hunting dogs or is in peril from "man."

The DVD comes with the featurette "The Legacy Continues," where the animators discuss their intimidation at tackling a sequel to a much-loved classic. They even try to convince us that since real animators are doing the work, it's OK that they used "digital techniques." Again, that's nice to hear, but "Bambi II" doesn't quite have the richness and depth that made the original such a beautiful work of art

Other bonus features are Bambi trivia tracks and games and activities including "Thumper's Hurry & Scurry" and a Disney sketch pad.

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Speaking of cute animals, Dog Days of Buffalo, a local training, grooming and day-care center, has released a new training video for puppies called "Positive Puppy Kindergarten."

While nothing may replace taking part in the actual six-week class with your pet, this DVD is a good start. The easy-to-navigate disc allows you to choose weeks one through six or pick out specific lessons including socialization, house training, sit, heel (loose-leash walking) and chew training/bite inhibition.

In fact, not only is this a good puppy primer, it's also a helpful reminder to use with older dogs. Dog behaviorist and Dog Days owner Suzanne Harris gives directions so easy to follow, my basset mix, Honey, listened attentively while I watched the DVD (in fact, I think she expected a treat for sitting). As Harris says, "If you integrate training into your daily life, all day long, so will your dog."

"Positive Puppy Kindergarten" is available on DVD or VHS for $40 through Dog Days, 632 Amherst St. (886-3647, www.dogdaysusa.com).

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Just in time for Valentine's Day is "Yu-Gi-Oh! Volume 4.2: My Freaky Valentine" ($14.98, 4Kids Entertainment Home Video). The three-hour DVD has eight episodes of the popular kiddie show-trading card empire, including "My Freaky Valentine" (parts I, II and II); "Fate of the Pharaoh" (parts I, II and III); "The Challenge" and "Trial by Stone."

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DVD Extra

Disney Princess Sing Along Songs Volume Three: Perfectly Princess: Another collection of songs sung by Disney princesses including Jasmine, Ariel and Cinderella.

Bonus features: Princess Pen Pals, karaoke and more. ($19.99, BVHE. Available Tuesday.)

e-mail: truberto@buffnews.com

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