51 Days of Disney (Day 29): The Rescuers Down Under

After the success of the Great Mouse Detective in 1986, a number of animated films were put into production. Oliver and Company and the Little Mermaid have already been mentioned, but a third film was a sequel to the last big success the company had before the Little Mermaid, the Rescuers. This marks the second time a Disney film has ever gotten a sequel with a theatrical release and the first in around 50 years.

Cody is an adventurous young boy who is a friend to a great number of animals in the Australian Outback, so when his friends tell him that a golden eagle named Marahute was captured by a poacher, he springs into action to help her. After cutting her free, we are introduced to what this film is ultimately known for: the flying sequences. Marahute takes Cody to her nest and he finds out that she has some eggs. Shortly afterwards, Cody falls into a trap while saving a mouse and is captured by Percival C. McLeach (George C. Scott) and his pet goanna lizard, Joanna, due to Cody’s knowledge of the location of Marahute. The mouse that Cody saved alerts the Rescue Aid Society and the story really begins.

Bernard and Miss Bianca return from the original film (with their original voice actors in tow) and are given the task of rescuing Cody. Bernard tries to propose to Miss Bianca, but the mission gets in the way. They try to get Orville to fly them down under, but they find out that Albatross Airlines is under new management. Orville’s brother Wilbur (John Candy) is now in charge. After the long flight, they land in Australia and meet up with the agent there named Jake and Orville hurts his back in the landing. Jake appoints himself as their guide and instantly starts trying to put the moves on Miss Bianca, much to Bernard’s chagrin.

When Cody refuses to give McLeach the location of Marahute, he throws the boy into the holding cell for all of the animals that McLeach captured. They try to escape, but Joanna stops their attempt. Eventually they figure out a way to escape, but McLeach takes Cody away to find the eagle just as Bernard, Miss Bianca, and Jake arrive to break him out. McLeach appeals to Cody’s desire to help animals by saying that Marahute was shot, so Cody runs off to find the eggs and McLeach follows him. McLeach finally succeeds in getting catching the golden eagle (and Cody, Miss Bianca, and Jake in the process) and it’s up to Bernard to save them and stop McLeach.

Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor are just as good in their roles in this movie as they were in the Rescuers, and George C. Scott is fantastic as the villainous McLeach. Scott’s voice just gives McLeach that needed sense of maniacal glee that is needed to show that he really loves his job. The music is passably adventurous, but not terribly memorable. It is not an animated musical like the Little Mermaid, which leads some people to say that it is not part of the Disney Renaissance, but in terms of animation quality it should definitely be included.

The Rescuers Down Under was the first Disney animated film to use the PIXAR developed CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) to digitally ink and paint the film. This gave the film a distintive look that had not been seen since 1959 in a Disney film. CAPS did away with the now outdated xerox method of inking and the Disney animated films were significantly better off for it. The black lines of the xerox method brought attention to the outline and made everything that was xeroxed look significantly more flat, but the coloured lines that CAPS provided gave the characters and backgrounds an added amount of depth on top of the inherent depth of the mutli-plane camera.

One other thing that should be noted is that because of the length of the film (it’s only around 70 minutes) it was bundled with the Prince and the Pauper starring Mickey Mouse to keep people from feeling cheated out of paying for a movie ticket for a film with a shorter length. What makes this interesting is that the 1983 theatrical reissue of the Rescuers was bundled with Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Disney is doing the same thing with Winnie the Pooh by bundling it with a short film called the Ballad of Nessie.

The Rescuers Down Under is more Rescuers. If that is something that interests you, definitely see it. It doesn’t use the same emotional appeals as the original Rescuers film, which unfortunately means that it is not nearly as emotionally charged, but it is still a very good animated film with amazing animation and flight sequences.

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One response to this post.

  1. I’ll be honest, I actually like this movie better than the original one and have ever since I was a kid. xD

    Reply

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