The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

rescuers down under poster
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great visuals and strong characters

Hurt by a rather weak story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Rescuers Down Under

Studio:  Walt Disney Feature Animation

Genre(s):  Animated/Family

Release Date(s):  November 16, 1990

MPAA Rating:  G

rescuers-down-under-jake-bernard-bianca

Don’t you be takin’ my woman….er mouse

A young Australian boy named Cody befriends a great golden eagle named Marahute.  When Cody is caught by a poacher named Percival C. McLeach, Cody must protect Marahute and her eggs.  A call goes out to the Rescue Aid Society, and Ms. Bianca and Bernard are on the case.  Travelling “down under” with the help of an albatross named Wilbur, Bianca and Bernard team with a kangaroo mouse named Jake to help liberate Cody and save Marahute.

Directed by Hendel Butoy and Mike Gabriel, The Rescuers Down Under is the twenty-ninth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series and the first sequel in the lineup as a follow-up to 1977’s The Rescuers.  Following the success of The Little Mermaid in 1989, The Rescuers Down Under was met by relatively positive reviews but less than stellar box-office returns.  When it was released, the movie was paired with a Mickey Mouse short of The Prince and the Pauper.

rescuers-down-under-cody-mcleach

Hey mister, do you know you look like George C. Scott?

The Rescuers Down Under is a bit of an oddity in the Disney canon.  As mentioned, it is a sequel released to theaters…something that Disney now just usually avoids (though Fantasia 2000 and Winnie-the-Pooh would be the exceptions in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series).  The movie also boasts the first Disney film to feature traditional animation combined with the Computer Animation Production System (or CAPS).  It also features the final role of Eva Gabor who retired from acting and passed away in 1995.

I actually like The Rescuers Down Under though it is pretty flawed.  The movie’s story really needs some work and has problems.  The story seems very rushed with not enough development of characters and the thing that always killed me is that they kind of left the plot of the trapped animals (including the kangaroo Jake, the rill-necked lizard Frank, Krebbs the koala among others) without resolution…I just imagine them dying of starvation in their cages in McLeach’s hidden poacher structure.  I never understood why they just didn’t have a simple scene of them escaping or being rescued.  Also by 1990, the Australia boom that seemed to start with Crocodile Dundee seems to be dated.

rescuers-down-under-marahute-pushes-cody

I still would have liked to see Marahuta push Cody off the waterfall and not catch him

The movie does work in that it has a lot of likeable characters with great voice actors.  Cody is a good lead and of course Bianca and Bernard already proved themselves in The Rescuers with the great vocal talents of Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor creating kind of a ying-yang situation.  George C. Scott lends his classic voice to McLeach and John Candy steps in as the replacement albatross Wilbur (due to the death of Jim Jordan who voice Orville in the original…get it? Orville & Wilbur Wright?).  Rounding out the cast is ‘’80s voice actor extraordinaire Frank Weller who did voices for both Marahute and the goanna Joanna.

rescuers-down-under-trapped-animals

Remember the part where they rescued all of us and returned us to our natural habitat? No? Because it didn’t happen!!!

I will say that The Rescuers Down Under is also a feast for the eyes.  From the opening shot of insects to a rush across the Australian prairie, The Rescuers Down Under provided something new, even from the previous year’s The Little Mermaid.  Some of the flying scenes with Cody and Marahute were inspired by famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki and even manage to get my palms a bit sweaty from nerves.

The Rescuers Down Under does feel bigger than a Disney straight-to-DVD film, but smaller than many of their big screen releases.  I do find it sad that the movie didn’t make more of a splash and that Eva passed because there were plans for the two to return in another later adventure.  Disney followed-up this slight bobble with hugely successful and revolutionary Beauty and the Beast in 1991.

Related Links:

The Rescuers (1977)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

2 Comments on "The Rescuers Down Under (1990)"

  1. Sean Phillips December 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    I always had the problem never seeing the animals be rescued. I remember reading somewhere in a Disney publication that “we assume that Cody went back and set them free.” It’s not really likely that Cody would forget. Still, it’s a flaw in the film that they didn’t show it.

     
    • JPRoscoe December 16, 2014 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Now it would a “post-credit” scene….I’m surprised that Disney hasn’t tacked it on or added a bonus short.

       

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