Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #29: The Rescuers Down Under

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

***

“We knew that Bernard and Bianca would come back in this movie. Because it’s a film about them.”

Thomas Schumacher, producer of The Rescuers Down Under, 1990  

“Wow. Thanks for that stunning revelation into the creative process.”

Unshaved Mouse, Watching the Making Of, 2013

***

Question. Have you ever shown up to the office Christmas party in your gimp suit only to be told that, no, we decided fancy dress was just too much hassle and yes I did send you an email, I did, I’m sorry but I distinctly remember, well check your inbox, wait, do you have a period in your email address? You do? Oh, well, okay, that explains it. Hah. I can totally see your package through the latex by the way?

Gimp Mouse

Hey, I’ve seen the search terms that bring people to my blog, don’t you DARE judge me.

That’s kind of Rescuers Down Under. It was just a little late to the party and now everyone can see its balls and is pretending to ignore it. If this movie had come out a few years earlier, preferably when the Crocodile Dundee craze was still in full force, it could have killed. This movie could have been HUGE. But instead it arrived in the wake of The Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid, in case I need remind you, was just a little bit of a game changer.

So the movie going public now had certain expectations about Disney.

Hey guys, I gotta new movie I think you're going to really love!

Hey guys, I gotta new movie I think you’re going to really love!

Is it a wonderland of fairytale  enchantment with fantastic songs and a princess who discovers that the strength was in her heart the whole time?

Is it a wonderland of fairytale enchantment with fantastic songs and a princess who discovers that the strength was in her heart the whole time?

Noooo...it's a sequel to a Mourning Era movie with lots of action and adventure and no songs.

Noooo…it’s a sequel to a  thirteen year old Mourning Era movie with lots of action and adventure and no songs.

EAT HIM!

EAT HIM!

AAAAAH!

AAAAAH!

 Yeah, this movie is not what people were looking for. And if you’re looking for a culprit as to why the Disney movies of the Renaissance Era are utterly totally bound with steel hoops and unbreakable adamantium chains to slightly reliant on formula, this is your reason. On its release, The Rescuers Down Under was a flop, although it may have been a self-inflicted one. Jeffrey Katzenberg famously pulled all the advertising after it had a less successful than expected opening weekend. Might it have become a hit if they’d waited and let word of mouth spread? I dunno. Maybe? It got decent enough reviews, and I think it’s probably safe to say that it’s more well-regarded now than its prequel, which was one of the most successful animated movies of all time. But Disney have always seemed to smell red-headed stepchild on this one. It’s certainly not like they disavow its existence like The Black Cauldron or Song of the South. But you get the feeling that if you mentioned this movie to someone in Disney they’d be like “Oh yeah. That one.” and ask you coldly not to raise the matter again. But make no mistake, this is an influential movie. Firstly, there’s the fact that its failure pretty much ended the talking animal-centric Disney movie until Dinosaur a decade later, and paved the way for the total dominance of the Disney princess movies. People often forget this, but the princess movies are very much a minority in the canon. In the sixty odd years prior to Little Mermaid, there were a grand total of three princess movies, compared to fifteen that focused on talking animals. But in the twenty-five years since Little Mermaid there have been seven princess movies. The success of Little Mermaid caused that, sure, but so did the failure of Rescuers Down Under.

Secondly, this was the first narrative sequel in the Disney canon, and the last until Winnie the Pooh in 2011. Because of this, the business of making sequels was then farmed out to other animation studios. These studios, despite not having the resources and experience of the original creators, nevertheless managed to create new and wonderful expansions of the existing works, creating sequels that could stand up and sometimes even surpaaaaahaaahahahahahahaha!

Who did an absolutely phenomonal hahahahaha...sorry, couldn't say that with a straight face these were pretty much all feculent garbage.

Sorry, couldn’t say that with a straight face. These were pretty much all feculent garbage.

So we can thank Rescuers Down Under for that too.

Jesus, this thing has a darker legacy than the book of Leviticus.

And it’s really not fair for this movie to be lumped in with the rest of the sequels. For starters, it’s not a naked and unwanted cash grab with no narrative justification. This is genuinely a story that had a few chapters left to be told. Unlike the rest of the canon, Rescuers was pretty much made for a sequel. The reason Cinderella 2 is such a non-starter is that at the end of Cinderella, all the loose ends are tied up. To continue the story, you have to unpick a perfectly good happy ending only to restore it at the end in a way that’s never going to be as satisfying as it was the first time. But the Rescuers, although it did have a happy ending for Penny, ended with the promise that the adventures of Bernard and Bianca were just beginning. The team had just been assembled. We had gotten all the tedious getting-to-know-you business out-of-the-way and now it’s full steam ahead. This, I think, is another reason why so many of you in the comments pine for that Basil the Great Mouse Detective sequel that never was. It was a concept that still had plenty of places to go, unlike Cinderella, who, once she gets the glass slipper, that really should be the last we hear of her.

No. Seriously. FUCK. OFF.

No. Seriously.
Fuck off.

But Rescuers Down Under does have one other, very important legacy. Like most YouTube comments, Rescuers Down Under was done all in CAPS, a new process that allowed ink and paint drawings to be digitized so that scenes could be arranged by computer. CAPS would continue to be used pretty much until the end of the traditional animation era and was as big a revolution in animation as the use of xerography was in the sixties.

Oh, and it's also why the movie is FUCKING GORGEOUS.

Oh, and it’s also why the movie is FUCKING GORGEOUS.

Of course, the Disney animators knew next to nothing about computers, so they enlisted the help of a small computer hardware company. This company, when not selling computers to government and medical agencies, moonlit as an animation studio doing little animated CGI commercials for Listerine.

They were called Pixar.

Talk about humble beginnings. This Listerine ad only won five Oscars.

Talk about humble beginnings.
This Listerine ad only won five Oscars.

The movie opens on the smallest of levels, down amongst blades of grass as various crickets and beetles skitter by. Slowly we follow a ladybird as it clambours up a twig and then flies off, revealing Uluru resplendent on the horizon.

At then…BOOM!

With Bruce Broughton’s epic score stampeding in the background we get a single awesome take zooming through the vastness of the outback, just to drive home the sheer scale and openness of the setting. It’s pretty breathtaking, and one of the reasons I think this movie would really benefit from a 3D re-release.  Failing that, you can just do what me and my brothers always did: watch this scene while running furiously on the spot.

Incredible rate

The opening scene establishes a recurring visual motif of the movie, contrasting the tininess of the characters with the vastness of their surroundings. If I have on criticism of this sequence though, it’s that the animators are apparently under the impression that the outback is covered in flowers for miles and miles around.

Wow. Verdant.

Wow. Verdant.

Anyway, we finally zoom in on the house of our rescuee, Cody. Cody wakes up to hear a didgeridoo in the distance and runs off into the outback. Now, you’d probably expect that Disney wouldn’t bother casting an Australian voice actor and just get an American kid who couldn’t do the accent. But you’d be dead wrong. They got a Norwegian kid who couldn’t do the accent.  Adam Ryen, who plays Cody, even did the Norwegian dubbing for his own part when it was released over there. Apart from the accent (and really, if an actor doesn’t want to do an accent it’s probably in everyone’s best interest that they don’t) he’s pretty good, and certainly not a Nice Young Gentleman Who’s Doing the Best He Can.

Cody runs into the forest, followed by various marsupials (or as I like to call them, evolution’s B students) until he comes to a clearing where a kangaroo is playing a log like a didgeridoo.

Not Australian enough. Can we add Paul Hogan drinking a can of Fosters and kicking Bart Simpson up the arse while a defaced blue ensign flies in the background?

Not Australian enough. Can we add Paul Hogan drinking a can of Fosters and kicking Bart Simpson up the arse while a defaced blue ensign flies in the background?

Faloo the Kangaroo tells Cody that Marahute the great golden eagle has been caught in a poacher’s trap up a cliff and that he’s the only one who can reach her.

Yep. No one else here who could reach her. All the way up there. Send the small child.

Yep. No one else here who could reach her. All the way up there. Send the small child.

Well, the kookaburras must be on break or something so Cody has to free solo the pant-wettingly high cliff and free Marahute.

Marahute is a thing of beauty. Animated by Glen Keane (who animated Ariel), she looks and moves like a real living bird. But Keane and his team managed to still invest her with enough personality to make her appealing as a character. She’s voiced by Frank Welker, one of two character’s he plays in this movie, the other being Joanna. You’ve probably heard of Frank Welker, almost certainly the most prolific voice actor ever, which would put him well in the running to having played more characters than any other actor in human history.

For anyone else this would be a lifetime's work, for Frank Welker, it's a slow Tuesday.

For anyone else this would be a lifetime’s work.
For Frank Welker, it’s a slow Tuesday.

Anyway, Cody finds Marahute tied up…somehow….on the top of the cliff. She starts freaking out when she sees him but he calms her down. Then he pulls out his penknife and she starts freaking out again. Cody gets to work cutting the ropes, but as she breaks free Marahute knocks him off the cliff with one blow from her wings.

"LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS!"

“LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS!”

But right before he gets scattered across half of Australasia, Marahute swoops down and takes him on flying tour of the outback and holy crap but this sequence is gorgeous. This is a stunningly beautiful film.

Marahute brings him back to her place to eat him and regurgitate him to her young show him her eggs. We learn that Marahute’s mate is dead, and Cody says that his Dad is gone too. She gives him a gift of one of her feathers and leaves him back on the ground. Cody goes running through the jungle happily making eagle noises and fails to see the spectacularly unhelpful wanted poster nailed to a tree.

Well, you failed to mention his crimes, whether he's dangerous, whether there's a reward, how to contact the police if you have information and his first name. Other than that, good poster.

Well, you failed to include his crimes, whether he’s dangerous, whether there’s a reward, how to contact the police if you have information, a profile view, a picture of him without his hat, a list of known aliases and his first name. 
Other than that, good poster.

He comes across a mouse caught in a trap, who he then frees, which then gets him caught in a trap. Somehow. I swear to God, the traps make as much sense in this movie as those of a silver age DC villain.

Batman-166

Triggering the trap draws the attention of McLeach, an evil poacher voiced by George C. Scott, one of the greatest and most lied to actors of the twentieth century. Seriously, everyone lied to George C. Scott. When they were making Doctor Strangelove, Kubrick only got such a funny performance out of Scott by telling him it was only for the gag reel and wouldn’t actually be used in the movie. It was used in the movie. In Patton, Scott was worried that the famous flag scene would overshadow the rest of the movie if it was used at the start so Franklin Schaffer promised him that they’d move it to the end of the film. I don’t know if you’ve seen Patton lately, but it starts with the flag scene. And when he did Hardcore with Paul Schrader, he told Schrader he’d only finish the movie if Schrader promised never to direct again. Scrader has directed sixteen films since Hardcore.  Poor George. They probably told him that this was a movie about ninja dolphins or something. He must have just gone through life unable to trust any word uttered by another human being.

What's the soup today?

What’s the soup today?

Mushroom.

Mushroom.

Is it...is it really?

Is it…is it really?

Tee hee! No. And I'll never tell you, George C. Scott!

Ha ha ha! No! And I’ll never tell you, George C. Scott!

WHY!? WHAT DID I DO?!

WHY!? WHAT DID I DO?!

Oh, he’s phenomenal in this by the way. Seriously, he takes that most clichéd of characters, the nineties evil poacher, and turns him into a truly terrifying villain. Actually, maybe a little too terrifying. Since most of his scenes are with a small child it actually gets quite disturbing how awfully he treats Cody. I’m not entirely sure you could make a movie like this today. We also meet Joanna, who always used to scare the crap out of me when she first appears in the movie.

Ah, there's that good old timey Disney terror.

Ah, there’s that good old timey Disney terror.

Being a poacher, McLeach of course drives something quiet and non-descript…no, my mistake, he favours a gigantic motorised death machine that looks like the bastard offspring of Optimus Prime and Truckosaurus. When he realises that he’s inadvertently captured the deadliest animal of all (Man. It’s MAN!), McLeach tries to pretend like it ain’t no thing and that Joanna was simply digging holes to bury dead squirrels. Cody, unfortunately, is just smart enough to see that this is bullshit, but not smart enough to realise that saying things like “This is a poacher’s trap! And you’re a poacher! And poaching is against the law! Poachy poachy poachy!” in front of a poacher with a gun and a ready made grave is not conducive to long-term survival.  McLeach though is still willing to let the kid go until he sees the feather that Marahute gave him and suddenly he’s reeeeeeal interested in where he got it. Cody simply says that it was a present, and that he can’t tell where he got it because it’s a secret.

McLeach reveals that he’s the one who killed Marahute’s mate and tries to get Cody to tell him where the mother and eggs are. Cody runs off with Joanna and McLeach in hot pursuit but has to stop when he reaches Crocodile Falls.

Named for its discoverer, Captain Percy Crocodile.

Named for its discoverer, Captain Percy Crocodile.

Cody warns McLeach that if he goes missing his mother will call the rangers. McLeach then gives one of the most epically  sarcastic disses I have ever hear heard: “Oh not the rangers! What’ll I do?! What’ll I do?! DON’T LET YOUR MOM CALL THE RANGERS, PLEASE!”

Keep laughing, asshole.

Keep laughing, asshole.

McLeach flings Cody’s backpack into the crocodile infested waters to throw the rangers off the scent, and drags Cody off in his Mega Death Truck. However, the mouse that Cody saved gets a message to the Rescue Aid Society in New York.  The message gets relayed from mouse to mouse using radio, morse code and even computers.

Mice using a keyboard? Now that's just silly.

Mice using a keyboard? Now that’s just silly.

In New York, a meeting of the RAS is called by the Chairman, returning from the first film, still voiced by Bernard Fox and still sporting a magnificent moustache.

An...unshaved...mouse...

An…unshaved…mouse…

Oh crap…

GRRRRRRRAAAAAAAHHJHJJHHHHJHHKJHKHKH&&&7%%%%%%%%%%

Never gonna give you up,  Never gonna let you down  Never gonna run around and desert you

Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you

What the fuck was that? Walt, did you really plant a subconscious memory in my mind years ago just so you could Rickroll me in the present?

I think the answer is right there in the question, don't you?

I think the answer is right there in the question, don’t you?

Well anyway, the Chairmouse tells the other delegates that there’s been a kidnapping in Australia (what, no singing of the Rescue Aid Society anthem? The Rules of Order exist for a reason people!). He then says that this case obviously calls for the RAS’s very finest.

Oh yeah, you know who they’re talking about.

coffy1

No, unfortunately, Cleopatra Mouse is busy (gee, I wonder why, is it because they put her in charge of an ENTIRE CONTINENT?) so the mission falls to Bernard and Bianca. Our heroes, voiced once again by Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor, dahling, are enjoying a romantic meal together when Bernard tries to propose. Unfortunately, before he gets a chance the message arrives and before he knows it he’s standing chin high in snow at the airport trying to charter a flight to Australia. A task he approaches with his usual drive and determination.

*KNOCK KNOCK*

*KNOCK KNOCK*

Well, nobody's home!

Well, nobody’s home!

Jim Jordan, who voiced Orville the albatross in the original movie, had passed on by this stage, so instead we get Orville’s younger brother Wilbur, voiced by John Candy. Wilbur, it turns out, is a huge Bianca fanboy and he’s absolutely thrilled with the idea of flying her to Australia…in a few months time. In the middle of Snowmageddon? Not so much. But Bianca explains the situation, that a boy has been kidnapped. Wilbur responds with the following:

“That’s awful! Lockin’ up a little kid…Kids should be free! Free to run  wild through the house on Saturday mornings. Free to have cookies and milk! And get those little white moustaches!”

That's fuckin' beautiful man.

That’s fuckin’ beautiful man.

He agrees to take them and there’s a thrilling take off scene in the snow that thankfully doesn’t have any clips of porn smuggled into it. I say “thankfully”, because after that pixellated penis in the last review I’m probably already on WordPress’ blacklist.

I'm watching you, buster.

I’m watching you, buster.

After stowing away on a jumbo jet, they arrive in Sydney, capital of Australia.

But...but I'm the capital of Australia...

But…but I’m the capital of Australia…

On that Canberra. Ha ha. He's crazy, ignore him.

Oh that Canberra. Ha ha. He’s crazy, ignore him.

In fact this movie has so much to teach us about Australian geography. There’s Sydney, which is an opera house with a few buildings nearby to provide amenities for said opera house, and the Rest of Australia, which is all within a five mile radius of Uluru.

They attempt a landing, but because Wilbur is an albatross and albatrosses are the biggest living things in the air short of fat people with access to trampolines…

Seriously. That monster next to Attenborough? That's a fucking baby.

Seriously. That monster next to Attenborough? That’s a fucking chick.

…the runway is too small. Fortunately Jake, the kangaroo mouse who runs the airport, is on hand to extend the runway with a kick ass action scene and Wilbur manages to land, but not without injuring his back. Jake, Bernard and Bianca check Wilbur into a hospital (a crashed ambulance) and leave him there while they go and search for Cody.

Wilbur quickly finds that he has fallen through a gap in the fictional dimensional barrier and is no longer in his nice, comfortable Disney movie but is instead now in the Saw franchise.  I’m not even kidding. His time in the hospital is just him being shot with tranquilizers from a shot-gun and threatened with various hideous tortures. For no reason. At one point they actually threaten to perform surgery on him with a freakin’ chainsaw! THAT FUCKING HAPPENS!

"Paging Doctor Leatherface. Doctor Leatherface to the operating theatre, thank you."

“Paging Doctor Leatherface. Doctor Leatherface to the operating theatre, thank you.”

Meanwhile, unaware that they have abandoned their friend to the tender mercies of the rodent Manson family, Bernard and Bianca make their way through the out back guided by Jake. Because, it’s not like he has an important job or anything. Air traffic controllers, waste of space the lot of them.

Jake is voiced by Australian voiced actor Tristan Rogers and he’s a very likeable character. Maybe a little too likeable. You see, Jake has fallen for Bianca and is pretty obviously trying to shoehorn himself in between her and Bernard. Now, normally I will root for the nebbishy underdog against the handsome jock any day of the week, but Bernard is such a defeatist, miserable sack of shit that I gotta say…yeah, Bianca can totally do better.

She knows it too.

She knows it, too.

At McLeach’s lair, the old bastard is trying to figure out a way to make Cody tell him where the eagle and her eggs are. He reasons that the boy has to have a weak spot, something that he can exploit to get him to show where the eagle is. He decides to cook himself some eggs because he can’t think on an empty stomach and this leads to a very, very funny scene where Joanna keeps distracting McLeach and stealing his eggs like she’s Batman, picking off delicious hoodlums one by one until only one egg is left, cowering in a corner and screaming “JUST DO IT!”

Yes, I've been replaying Arkham Asylum. What of it?

Yes, I’ve been replaying Arkham Asylum. What of it?

Oh, a moment to sing the praises of Joanna, one of the all time great villainous sidekicks in the Disney canon. She is an absolute riot, brilliantly animated and Frank Welker’s Gollum-esque voicework is insanely good.

Anyway, when McLeach sees that Joanna has scoffed all his eggs, things go very dark and he’s about to bash her head in with his lunchbox when he realises the one thing that will get Cody to talk: Waterboarding!

No? Oh right, the eagle’s eggs!

Okay, one criticism I have of this movie? Padded to fuck. There are two scenes with Cody trapped in McLeach’s basement with all his captured animals that literally adds nothing to the plot. I only bring it up because “Damn, that is one gay koala bear.” is not a sentence you expect to say when reviewing a Disney movie. Or, indeed, ever.

And yet, here we are.

And yet, here we are.

We also get introduced to Frank, the frilled lizard. I…should hate Frank. I really should. He’s annoying and shrill and stupid but…dammit, I’m sorry. This was the second Disney movie I ever owned on VHS and there’s a nostalgia shield around eight inches thick around this thing and every character in it (except Bernard). Sorry, I got nothing.

The scenes with Cody and the captured animals take up around ten minutes of the film and really, they go nowhere. Cody and the animals try to escape, Joanna stops them, then McLeach comes and throws Cody out. “Say goodbye to your little friends” he snarls “It’s the last you’ll ever see of them.”

He ain’t kidding. We never see any of them again.

Bernard, Bianca and Jake arrive at McLeach’s hideout just in time to witness McLeach letting Cody go. Which is probably not going to go down in the annals of the RAS’s most heroic rescues. McLeach tells Cody that Marahute is dead, so there’s no point keeping him around. As Cody runs off, McLeach casually mentions to Joanna how the eggs will never survive without their mother and Cody buys it hook, line and sinker. McLeach then follows Cody from a distance, knowing that he’ll lead him straight to the eggs. Obviously, this calls for stealth.

Stealth

The three mice stowaway of the Mega Death Truck while McLeach carefully follows Cody at a distance, observing him through a pair of binoculars.

Cody! You magnificent bastard I READ YOUR BOOK!

Cody! You magnificent bastard I READ YOUR BOOK!

Cody arrives at Marahute’s canyon and holy resplendent balls of the Great Monkey…

Canyon

No words...should have sent a poet...

No words…should have sent a poet…

Have I mentioned this movie is beautiful? Okay, well Cody climbs down to the nest and sees the eggs are still safe. The mice arrive and warn him that McLeach is waiting on the cliff for Marahute, who by the way is still alive. Marahute returns to the nest and sees Cody who tries to warn her away. Too late, McLeach fires his trusty…tarpaulin gun…thing (just don’t think about any of the traps in this move) and capture both Cody and Marahute. Bianca and Jake manage to get back up the top of the cliff but Bernard is left behind with the eggs.

McLeach then sends Joanna down to eat the eggs to make sure that Marahute “stays rare”. Because one priceless and ultra rare golden eagle is worth more than four. Apparently.

The numbers don't lie.

The numbers don’t lie.

Joanna tries to eat the eggs, but only succeeds in chipping her teeth because they’re too hard. So instead, she knocks them over the cliff and calls it a day. But it turns out the eggs are still safe, because Bernard was able to hide them and replace them with rocks the exact same size, shape and colour as the eggs. That, y’know, jut happened to be lying around.

Gentlemen, I must return to the summit of Bullshit Mountain!

BUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLSHIIIIIIIT!

BUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLSHIIIIIIIT!

While the movie is still stabbing plausibility in a darkened alleyway and rifling through its pockets, Wilbur just happens to arrive at this one nest in all of Australia. Bernard manages to guilt-trip Wilbur into minding the eggs while he goes after Bianca.

Meanwhile, in the truck Bianca comforts Cody by telling him that Bernard will find them and rescue them. Jake thinks that she’s just trying to keep the kid’s spirits up, but Bianca tells him “You don’t know Bernard like I do. He’ll never give up.”

Ahem.

*KNOCK KNOCK*

*KNOCK KNOCK*

Well, nobody's home!

Well, nobody’s home!

Yeah, persistence of a bulldog, that one.

Okay, that’s not fair. Bernard does actually rise to the occasion. He manages to strong-arm a wild boar into giving him a ride to Croc Falls, where McLeach is preparing to feed Cody to the crocodiles so he can’t narc.

McLeach says that “They like it when you use live bait” which suggests to me that Cody is not the first person that this poacher has fed alive to crocodiles.

Ah, so that's what happened

Just before he can lower Cody into the water, the power cuts out. McLeach checks the cockpit to find that the keys have gone missing, and we see that Bernard has managed to hide them behind the accelerator pedal. Bernard sneaks the keys out of the truck and manages to throw them to Bianca and Jake before Joanna sees him and starts chasing after him. McLeach, meanwhile, says that there’s more than one way to skin a cat (and he would know from professional experience.) so he just gets his rifle and starts shooting at the rope holding Cody over the crocodiles. Think about that. Instead of just shooting the kid, he attempts the much trickier shot of hitting the rope, just so he can have the satisfaction of watching him be torn limb from limb by a pack of prehistoric reptiles. See what I mean about this being a dark movie?

You ever dance with the Red Rooster in the pale moonlight?

You ever dance with the Red Rooster in the pale moonlight?

But in the nick of time, Bernard manages to lure Joanna into chasing him and leaping onto McLeach, sending him toppling over the canyon into the crocodile infested waters.

The crocodiles swim after McLeach, leaving Cody alone. But the rope is still too frayed to keep him up and he goes plunging into the water with Bernard leaping after him.

Okay everybody. It’s a Disney cartoon. A character has fallen into a river. According to the rules of this universe what must now, absolutely, positively, without fail appear?

Idiots! You're all IDIOTS!

Idiots! You’re all IDIOTS!

McLeach goes over the waterfall, after battling a swarm of ravenous crocodiles with his bare hands and I don’t know about you, but that’s how I want to go out.

Cody and Bernard go over too, but Bianca and Jake manage to free Marahute just in the nick of time and the eagle flies them all to safety.

Bernard is a hero, and finally manages to propose to Bianca, who joyfully accepts because otherwise the movie would end on kind of a downer. Cody calls out to Marahute “Let’s all go home!” and they fly away into the moonlight, with a happy ending for all our heroes.

Oh...

Oh…

Scoring

Animation: 17/20

I went back and forward on this. It’s certainly cleaner, and has much finer backdrops than The Little Mermaid. But the character animation (while often very good) doesn’t have quite the same charm and finesse so I’m going to call it a draw and score them equally.

The Leads: 14/20

Same characters, same score.

The Villains: 17/20

George C. Scott makes for a fantastic, scary and often very funny villain.

Supporting Characters: 13/20

Marahute and Joanna are absolute triumphs, Jake and Wilbur are great and the rest…eh.

The Music: 16/20

Yeah, that’s right! A high score on music for a movie with no songs! ‘COS I’M A GODDAMN RENEGADE!

FINAL SCORE: 77%

NEXT TIME: Formal wear will be required as we review the only Disney movie to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Beauty and the Beast is next.

PLUS! Revealed at last! The untold origin of the Unshaved Mouse!

NEXT UPDATE: 30 May 2013

Neil Sharpson AKA The Unshaved Mouse, is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger living in Dublin. The blog updates every second Thursday. Thanks for reading!

42 comments

  1. I like both, the original Rescuers and the Sequel equally. The original Rescuers has a way more cohesive plot. It’s a real detective story, in which we see Bernard and Bianca following clues until they uncover where Penny is held and what Medusa’s plan is. The focus of this movie is where it belongs, and in the end it’s tightly wrapped up.
    Rescuers down under on the other hand is an action flick. There is no character development in the movie (Bernard rising to the occasion doesn’t count because it’s implied that he always does when Bianca really needs him too – btw, considering that Jake is barely broken up about not “getting” Bianca, she made the right choice), no real development in the relationship between Bernard and Bianca, just the constant interruption Bernard’s plan. And, as you yourself pointed out, the movie is incredible padded – and unfocussed. It spends a lot of time with Cody whole Bernard and Bianca are travelling to meet him, and in none of those story line a lot of really important stuff happens. And in the end, several plot threads are left hanging, not just the still trapped animals, but I’m also missing a scene with Cody’s mother learning that he is still alive.
    But the movie shines in the animation, it’s just so impressive to look at. I think with a tighter more cohesive story it would have been way more successful.
    It’s certainly a worthy sequel though, with fun characters and some really memorable scenes (side note: Scott – best Scrooge ever!!!!!!!).

    1. Oh and I guess I should scream “First”????????? This seems to be a thing with other people…..for some strange reason……

  2. Great review, unshavedmouse! You may want to change the title to Review #29, instead of Review #28 though! Typo!

    Although I like and think this movie is better than “The Rescuers”, I don’t think it’s better by much. Yes, the animation with CAPS is amazing, but other than that, I found the story quite boring and the characters not developed well either.

  3. It’s funny bc I didn’t grow up with the Rescuers, only RDU. So I was so surprised when I discovered that the film I had all along was a sequel.

    And I honestly reaaaaly don’t remember a whole lot about this film, besides that Jake was awesome. It’s been on my list of films to give a rewatch.

    1. Ha ha, you basically just described my relationship with the Fern Gully sequel. Which is strangely comparable to Rescuers Down Under actually.

  4. I can acknowledge that this story isn’t quite as tight as that of its predecessor, and that it’s little more than an action flick, but . . . . darn it, it’s just so pretty! This movie belongs to the Renaissance if for no other reason than stunning visuals — not a hint of pencil line here! And really, I’d say the characters are a heck of a lot more memorable, more funny, more threatening, more everything than the first movie (American accents notwithstanding). The soundtrack is worlds better too.

    BUT . . . the fact that we never see the fate of all those caged animals has bothered me for a long time. (Fun fact: in the original version of Bass and Rankin’s “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, we never saw Santa going to the Island of Misfit Toys. There were so many upset letters about it that they had to go back and do an extended ending where the Misfit Toys got rescued. I’d really like to see Disney do a similar thing on future DVDs.)

    Aaaaand I’m going to have to wait another two weeks to get “Part of Your World” out of my head. Seriously. I’m caught myself humming it ever since your TLM post. Curse you, Unshaved Mouse! 😉

  5. I never had a problem with the movie not showing the fate of the caged animals. It knew when to end the film, on a high, and I’m glad they didn’t get sidetracked by these minor plot points. The obvious thing would be that Cody informed the authorities who rescued the animals shortly after the events of the film, can be easily imagined and doesn’t need to be shown.

    1. I probably wouldn’t have a problem with except that he says “let’s all go home”. The idea that his first port of call wasn’t saving the animals really bugged me.

      1. Well, presumably “home” is where he can make the phone call to the proper authorities 🙂

  6. I agree with te fact that they spend too much time on Cody and McLeah, and not enough on Bernard and Bianca. There is a lot of scenes that don’t add anything to the plot, and just because something is action-adventure packed, does not make it better. This film is still good though… not great though. I like the mystery theme and the development of the characters in The Rescuers, but that and The Rescuers Down Under don’t feel related in any way, which is not the best thing. Not as bad as I thought it was going to be. And thank this movie for thing is the brilliant animation again.

    I am excited for your review on Beauty and the Beast

  7. Speaking as an amateur biologist from the continent under discussion (who has only the faintest recollection of the movie)…
    1) Yes, this movie is riddled with ridiculous factual inaccuracies (That eagle… is clearly… American… *eye twitch*)…
    2) And I definitely disagree with your point about marsupials. (Some macropods can not only pause the development of an embryo in the womb to combat dry conditions, but they can have three babies of different ages at a time – one in the womb, one in the pouch and one at foot, with separate kinds of milk for the pouch young and young-at-foot.) …
    3) But it did get one thing right. After heavy rain, Australia’s arid zones do burst into flower! Frogs rise out of the ground like the living dead, shrimp hatch and swarm in the puddles, and for a few weeks everything runs around, mating and feeding and growing like mad before the water and plants dry up.

    Looking forward to next week’s review!

  8. Didn’t read the whole thing yet; this solely regards the Cinderella III pic you put up:

    I love that God damn movie. It had a winning combination of “Yeah it’s a cash grab but we want to put actual effort into this one” + “Our studio is getting closed and LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKS WE HAVE CEASED TO GIVE”. Any movie where the Prince Charming questions the talking animals and jumps out the window to get around his dad gets an automatic +10 in my book. I liked seeing the Prince and Anastasia getting actual personalities and character arcs, too. Plus I think the premise was pretty cool and imaginative, and it was really interesting to observe the Values Dissonance between the third one and the sequel. The SECOND Cinderella was a steaming pile of corny puke, but I think the third one, while flawed (animation was nothing to write home about, though it was pretty; ending action sequence was rushed) has a right to exist.

    Off to read the actual review…

    1. Okay. I have to confess that I haven’t seen it and I also have heard that it’s by far the best of the sequels. I just objected on a moral level to the idea of not one but TWO sequels to that movie. The very name Cinderella 3 infuriates me. The story is OVER. LET IT GO.

      1. *Original post should say “third one and the *original*”, not sequel.

        Yeah, the second one was just…*automatic trash bin*. They should’ve just disowned/never made the second one and made III the proper sequel (especially since the second one consists of three shorts, and the third movie takes place between the second and third shorts, which isn’t confusing at all). Hell, just take the “III” off the title and call it Cinderella: A Twist in Time, leaving the “second” Cinderella as, like, the concept pilot episodes for a TV series that never was or something.

        I’ve noticed this is the second time Disney made a three-movie canon for a title where the third one was leaps and bounds better than the second one, the other title being Aladdin (I think the second Aladdin is decent enough, but I’d ignore it if it didn’t explain Iago’s presence in the third movie). What I appreciate about the third Aladdin is that it doesn’t attempt to rehash the first movie, but instead exploits an unexplored but not out-of-left-field weakness in the lead character (in this case, Al’s lack of family). Cinderella III doesn’t do that, but it takes the other option: undoing the progress of the original and taking an alternate route to get to the same/similar ending. This is actually a pretty dangerous route to go, because you can rewind the characters while you’re rewinding the plot (which is basically what the second Mulan did…they didn’t go back in time, but it was the same “China is afraid of being invaded/Shang and Mulan have a rocky relationship/the sidekicks are amusing/Mushu is an asshole who uses Mulan for personal gain” storyline, except this time it was crap), but Cinderella III managed to pull off undoing the first movie’s plot while pushing forward the first movie’s characters.

        R:DU could have fallen into the trap of “this sequel is bad because it’s just a halfhearted rehash of the first movie” since the basic premise is the same as the first, but they changed it just enough (different genre and tone, different locale, different sidekicks, relationship upgrade for Bernard and Bianca, a focus on environmentalism instead of child abuse), to make it fresh and interesting, and kept enough the same so that it didn’t seem like it should have been a stand-alone movie.

        So yeah, if you can restrain your hatred-on-principle, Cinderella III is worth checking out. Just ignore the second one for your sanity 😉 And the second Mulan, for that matter, which is the only Disney sequel that managed to bore me to tears AND inspire me to new heights of rage.

      2. I suffered through all the sequels (no, I didn’t pay a dime for them) so that I can do an informed rant about them…trust me, Cinderella 3 is horrible. The premise is a little bit more creative, but that’s the only positive thing about it, and Imho only people who have a low regard for the first movie can like it. The Xenafication of Cinderella is just horrible, but this movie actually looses me in in the very beginning, when suddenly the whole plan with the shoe is Charming’s instead of his fathers. Watching the movie I always got the impression that the makers didn’t even watch Cinderella, instead they glanced shortly at a synopsis.

      3. Ah dude I am disagreeing so hard with you right now but I am trying not to be a troll. XD YMMV but the Values Dissonance (re: passivity being an admirable feminine trait) between I and III is the most intriguing part of the movie for me, and frankly I love that Cinderella decided that she just can’t take this shit no more.

        Also: the Prince jumps out a friggin’ window. Automatic A+

      4. That’s exactly what I meant…Cinderella in the original movie ISN’T passive, she is just out of options. As she explains to Bruno “either do what they say or loose your warm bed”. Nevertheless she immediately reminds her stepmother that the invitation includes her too, and when she has the opportunity, she goes to the Ball, nobody carries here there. That’s what so great about her, despite everything what is done to her she never looses hope, and as soon as she sees an opportunity, she seizes it. She is a way stronger character than what is presented in this god-awful sequel!

      5. “nobody carries her there”…nobody except the Fairy Godmother who appears without being specifically summoned, gives her a dress and the glass slippers,and transforms her animal sidekicks into attendants?

        Like, I get what you’re trying to say, and Cinderella *as a personality* isn’t as passive as people make her out to be, but in terms of activity she’s more opportunist than active, and in the first film plays a smaller part in the actual action despite the plot revolving around her. This is going more into the realm of meta criticism (in which I call out the writer for designing a plot in which Cinderella needs to rely on other agents so much), but the short of it is that the mice do most of the heavy lifting in the first film. I actually thought it perfectly believable for Cinderella, who has finally found a tangible way out of her situation only to have it snatched away from her, to “snap”, so to speak, and decide to make something happen without waiting for someone to specifically provide the means for her. Cinderella is actually already remarkably self-aware for an abuse victim…in my experience a symptom of abuse is not expecting or consciously going for an improved situation. So it’s not really hard for me to see that if Cinderella was already free enough from the psychological effects of being abused to be an opportunist, she would grow into an active agent, once she sees her one real lead to a better life being taken from her. The transition could have been smoother, sure, but I really don’t find it that unbelievable, especially for the beginning of the movie when it’s the heat of the moment spurring her on.

        Despite all this, I actually don’t really see a Xenafication. She goes to the palace on her own, but she gets captured and is almost exiled. Charming saves her from exile, and saves the day in the end, not Cinderella. As for the carriage ride, sometimes it’s crazy what people can pull off when they think they’re about to be killed.

  9. You know the most I remember about this movie was my righteous anger at McLeach. I grew up on Fern Gully, Animal Planet, and National Geographic’s Really Wild! series in the nineties, so I loved me some God damn wildlife as a kid (still do). You’re right about how despicable and terrifying this guy is. He and Joanna are pure Nightmare Fuel.

    1. McLeach throwing the knives at a tied-up Cody and then kicking the boiling pot of water in a dark, murderous fit of rage is easily one of the most disturbing scenes in Disney history!

  10. Give me the first film any day. This one had more terrifying villains and sidekicks but the first one was so much better for me overall

    1. Mmm…I’m not sure I’d put F2K on the same level as the DTV sequels since Walt had intended from the get-go to have Fantasia be an ongoing project (re-releasing it every few years with some old segments taken out and new ones put in.

  11. To play devil’s advocate on the sequel issue…

    I’m not all that crazy on the idea myself, although some of the sequels are pretty good. However, long before there were filmed sequels to Disney animated classics, there were records, comics and Little Golden Books that continued the stories.

    Scamp, son of Lady and the Tramp, first started having adventures in comics and Golden Books. Plus, when I was a kid I had an album called “More Jungle Book,” which was pretty much a musical audio play. I count it as more canonical than the DTV Jungle Book sequel since the record actually had Harris, Prima and Cabot–the only different voice was Mowgli’s. (The plot was Baloo’s friends sneaking into the man-village to bring back Mowgli for a visit since Baloo was pretty seriously depressed without his old chum. Louis had a seriously catchy song even if it did go against his original opinion of humans: “If you wanna see some strange behavior, take a look at Man!/Gotta give the prize for strange behavior to the people clan!/They smoke, they cheat, they overeat/They knock each other flat/Tell me, have you seen another animal/Act like that?”)

    So to be fair…are the filmed sequels necessarily wrong to do what those albums, comics, and LGB’s did long before that?

    (And I don’t mind the idea of Return to Neverland, since the premise comes right from the tail-end of Barrie’s original novel: Peter comes for Wendy but finds Wendy grown and her daughter Jane ready to go to Neverland in her place.)

  12. Hey, Mouse, I think I saw a couple of your cousins the other day. They were at the Skytrain station, but they didn’t stay long, I think the sound of the train scared them because they hid under the garbage can when it came by.

    Also, mouse in a gimp suit. I totally think you should make a regularly updated page of weirdest search of the month that got you traffic or something. It would probably be a hoot.

    Yeah, this one… I mostly have more memories of seeing its preview than the production. Though at least those are nostalgic this-is-the-bit-that-always-precedes-this-VHS-movie preview memories. Not like the ads for later sequels that would play on commercials every other three minutes. Ugh. But I’m confused, why doesn’t Lion King fall under the category of “talking animal Disney movie”? Does it have to lack songs to qualify?

    And hey, funnily enough, I think the movie released prior to this one is the only one whose sequel I actually like. I think the fact that it was released early enough for me to be ten and still lacking film critiquing skills (and access to an internet to persuade me against liking it), but I kind of like how it makes the hero make the final climatic move.

    Hey, hey, I think that “Australian scene” description was missing Hugh Jackman shearing a sheep with Steve Irwin’s face as he examines dozens of highly venomous snakes at once wearing one of those hats with the corks on it dripping with vegemite.

    And yes, the début of the LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS! I totally think someone should make a montage of every fall from a high height in every Disney animated movie with that line being said in each character’s voice dubbed over it. Maybe play some Yakkety Sax in the background or something else comedic. Sounds guffaw-worthy to me.

    Cleopatra Mouse, huh? There’s some Cleo joke hiding in your naming her that, but I’m too tired to come up with it right now. But yeah, I love the brick joke there. Also, it’s kind of cool how this sequel actually cares about not getting original actors. Can’t have the guy who played Orville? Have the substitute be someone else. Not something that can be said for most later sequels.

    And dang. That doctor who made the million-dollar-rat really is evil, wasn’t he? He probably made Larry bad on purpose, didn’t he, that dastardly rodent! Also, why should of all people you need to give an explanation as to why you made Batman references? I’d be more likely to have questions to ask when you didn’t.

    Ah man, that train picture’s got to be one of the most hilarious gags I’ve seen so far. That part made me laugh.

    Oy. Major tethercat moment with those captured animals. Almost literal, some of them are actually tethered. Maybe they lucked out and the Fern Gully fairies bailed them out or something. Though likely, those lazy bastards that are the kookaburras never passed them the memo. Poor things.

    Man, two song-related-rules broken in one movie? Maybe there should be a sequel called The Rescuers in Vietnam, huh Mister Rules-Don’t-Apply?

      1. I was referring to the stating that “[The Rescuers Down Under’s] failure pretty much ended the talking animal-centric Disney movie until Dinosaur a decade later”. If I remember correctly, The Lion King preceded Dinosaur by quite a bit.

      2. How unearthly was the hour this one was drafted/posted? Might have something to do with it.

  13. McCleach and Joanna are perhaps my favorite Disney villains in the cannon. Joanna’s tail quivers and expressions are great, and her goodbye wave is a family-held culture reference. What makes McCleach interesting to me is that he’s so competent and undefeatable even as the film pokes at his lack of education. Really, what defeats McCleach is not clever trickery or failure of plot, just that he was completely, understandibly unaware of being sabotaged by a mouse. He’s just so despicable, ungainly, and even stupid without being posed as some sort of farce, which describes so many criminals out to ruin the world for their own capital. Also, his lines are so funny in such subtle ways: “My brain is TWICE the size of yours, you peabrain!” ……twice eh? Of a peabrain lizard?

  14. If you look, in the RAS parliament(what on earth do you call them?) scene, they’ve realised their mistake with the whole ‘one continent’ thing and there are reps from each individual country, including(but ideally not limited to) Morocco, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.

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