Monday, October 17, 2011

Day Thirty Four - The Rescuers Down Under

Movie: The Rescuers Down Under
Released: November 16, 1990
Formats Released: 1 VHS, 1 DVD
Format Watched: VHS
Watched With: Woody & Belle
Snacks: None

I'm actually watching this film out of my very loose plan. This is the second film in the Disney Renaissance of the 1990's. I originally was going to watch all the films of the renaissance in order, but I felt it was better to watch this film right after The Rescuers. This way it is better to see the similarities and differences in the two films.

This film also holds a very special place in my life. This is the film I saw on the very first date I went on with my now wife. I met my wife on my birthday in 1990, and this movie came out the very next weekend. I don't really remember much of the film in the theaters, only bits and pieces but I have seen it a few times since so it's not completely new.

This film made a number of firsts for Disney and for films in general. It was the first Walt Disney Feature Animation sequel, of 1977's The Rescuers, it was the first Disney film to be made completely with the CAPS system (Computer Animation Production System) which also made it the very first film to be assembled and completed in a digital environment (it would be transferred back to analog film stock for use in theaters).

My Thoughts on the Film:

Bob Newhart and Eve Gabor came back to reprise their roles of Bernard and Miss Bianca. Bernard Fox, also from the first film, reprised his role of the RAS Chairmouse as well as the outback Doctor and they were joined by John Candy, playing Wilbur the brother of Orville from the first movie. George C Scott does a great turn as the villain in the film to round out the cast. The cast was perfect for this film. I've said before that I like Bob Newhart's style, I like to think that have the same type of self deprecating humor that he has so his character in the film appeals to me.

The setting of the film, the Australian outback, is really only the location of the film and it doesn't play a "character" in the film. Some of the old reviews that I read seamed to think that this was a problem and that except for the title the film could have been set anywhere. This could be true but it doesn't really matter, it's the characters and the story that matter, the location only really sets the tone, it did it's job and got out of the way.

The use of computer animation continued it's rise in Disney Animation in this film. The sea of flowers at the beginning, McLeach's truck and the New York and Sidney skylines were all done with computer animation. As I think I said in The Great Mouse Detective, I have no problem with the computer animation as long it was not done for the sake of doing it. All of the computer animation in this film was used effectively and transparently and used in a spot where traditional animation would have been a nightmare.

This film also featured an amazing soundtrack by Bruce Broughton. It is amazingly easy to get swept up in the music to this film. From the didgeridoo at the opening, the outstanding "flying" theme, the "Bernard the Hero" theme and even the little call back to the Rescue Aid Society anthem. Unlike the location, the music almost does play a character in the film.

My Favorite part of the film:

It's hard to choose an absolute favorite in this film, but I have a couple. Top of the list is the Indiana Jones-esk map scene showing the RAS SOS traveling from station to station on the map, along with the "native" mice (I love Hawaiian shits, so mice in them rock). The flight sequence at the beginning of the film is great as well. This I remember from the theater, I remember almost getting the feeling of flight looking at the screen and that stuck with me. I love, in general, that Bernard is basically the true hero of this film, and he gets the girl!

Thing's I never noticed before:

- Mice in Hawaiian shits!
- Mice tricking Air Force people away from the computer with a random phone call
- Cockroaches as waiters (yuck) in the fancy restaurant
- "Pea Soup"
- The Outback Doctor using a shotgun to administer "shots"

Final Thoughts:

I was actually a little shocked to learn that this movie only made $47 million at the box office, an initial return of only $10 million. I would have thought that this movie would have made a lot more. I think it's a case of timing. This movie came out right after The Little Mermaid, which was a strict musical fantasy. That movie was a smash hit showing that Disney meant business again. The Rescuers Down Under, was grounded in real life. There were talking animals, but only kids could understand them. There was no magic, no fantastic (other than Australia) settings and no singing. When this movie came out people were expecting something like The Little Mermaid, but they got this, and I think it turned some people off. Their loss. I was a 16 year old on a first date and I remember parts of this movie, so I know I'm not alone in thinking that this movie has a little going for it.


  1. This is by far my favorite underrated Disney movie. It's got everything that blew people away in "Avatar" and "How to Train Your Dragon" -- except you know in the back of your mind that people with pencils created everything the characters do onscreen. I dare anyone to watch the whole scene after the kid rescues Marahute and not think, "Holy s**t" even once.

  2. this my favorite movie the use of the computer animation is very nice .

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  3. Animations are really appreciable. this is one of my favourite movie which i love to watch again and again.

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