Disney Classics #29: The Rescuers Down Under

I really loved this movie as I kid, which is weird because the original wasn’t massively on my radar. I think the reason this movie was such a hit was because it has a pretty straight forward plot, a few memorable characters and some gorgeous visuals.

rescuersdownunder

We see the return of Rescue Aid Society mouse agents Bernard and Bianca (Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor), this time sent to Australia to rescue a young boy kidnapped by a ruthless poacher. The kid, Cody (Adam Ryen), is a pretty decent bloke, able to talk to animals and who works rescuing critters from traps and whatnot. One day he rescues Marahute, a giant eagle.

When poacher McLeach (George C Scott) discovers that Cody knows where the rare bird is, he kidnaps him hoping to get him to talk. A mouse witnesses the abduction and sends for help.

What I love about this movie, and what I think makes it a better film than the original is that the villain is stronger and that there’s a real sense of magic and wonder here. The idea of the mouse civilisation existing alongside the world of man is an interesting idea and expanded on with some nice touches, Bernard and Bianca date at a fancy restaurant hidden in the chandelier of the human restaurant below. One of the RAS relay centres is a downed WW2 plane on a Pacific island.

I also like that Cody is a bit of a hero, fighting to keep animals safe like a mini Steve Irwin and the movie’s anti-poaching storyline and clear delight and love in nature are things that won me over as a kid and still work on me today. The film highlights the weird and wonderful animals of Australia, and still makes me want to go down under, it seems like a different world with strange critters and gorgeous scenery.

There’s also some extra personal drama between our plucky rodent heroes, as Bernard tries to work up the nerve to propose to Bianca and also faces a potential love rival in smooth, heroic kangaroo mouse Jake (Tristan Rogers). Jake has an easy confidence that Bernard lacks, and constantly outshines are nervous friend. Bianca, however, is unwavering in her support and belief in Bernard, and when she and Jake are captured, never loses faith in her mouse.

Bernard is forced to overcome his fears and the odds, and displays some real heroism along the way. He’s quite a likeable chap actually, and his clear fear make him all the more heroic, he faces what scares him but keeps going.

It’s a fast, short adventure with some lovely sequences, especially the sequence where Cody rides Marahute through the clouds or the chaotic, swooping and swerving flight of the Rescuers’ transport, loud mouth albatross Orville, voiced with charm and humour by John Candy. I think it’s the mix of goofy humour and some gorgeous art that made this a favourite in our house, and we watched it quite regularly.

It’s a solid enough movie, even if a little rushed in places, and I’d say a step up from the first film (music aside) but this is still a bit of a second tier Disney movie, suffering slightly as it’s sandwiched between two of the all time great Disney flicks (The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast). An improvement on the majority of the ’80s Disney movies, but would be overshadowed by what the ’90s would deliver.

Still, well worth checking out and I do think Bianca and Bernard deserve a bit more love, Disney+ would be a great place to give them a few more adventures and introduce them to a new generation.

Disney Score: 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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