The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good introduction to Sherlock Holmes for kids

Too much adventure and not enough deduction for adults who like Sherlock

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Great Mouse Detective

Studio:  Walt Disney Feature Animation

Genre(s):  Animated/Musical/Family

Release Date(s):  July 2, 1986

MPAA Rating:  G


Listen kid, you and the fat mouse are beneath me…got that?

A little mouse named Olivia Flaversham (voiced by Susanne Pollatschek) has her toymaker father Hiram Flaversham (voiced by Alan Young) kidnapped by the evil Professor Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price) for a nefarious plot. Seeking out the great Basil (voiced by Barrie Ingham) at 221 Baker Street, and her new companion Major Dr. David Q. Dawson (voiced by Val Bettin) interest Basil in the case when he learns his nemesis Ratigan is involved. Now Basil, Dawson, and Olivia must find what Ratigan is planning and foil his plot.


Damn, I look fine!

Directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattison, Dave Michener, and John Musker, The Great Mouse Detective was Walt Disney twenty-sixth featured in the Walt Disney Animated Classic Series and followed a rather disastrous outing by The Black Cauldron in 1985.  Sometimes called The Adventures of the Great Mouse Detective, Basil the Great Mouse Detective, or even The Great Mouse Detective: Mystery in the Mist, the movie was based on the children’s series Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus.  The movie was well-received and is often credited for helping continue Disney’s making of animated films after a number of failures.


Hey kids, there’s Big Ben!

The Great Mouse Detective feels fun, but a bit incomplete. Ratigan is obviously supposed to be the Moriarty equivalent for Basil’s Holmes. There are many allusions to Sherlock stories (including the end which is inspired by Sherlock’s famous showdown with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls in “The Final Problem”). The only thing is that mystery isn’t much of a mystery and more of an adventure. I feel like I needed more problem solving and deduction on the part of Basil. With a simple adventure, it feels like The Great Mouse Detective should be part of a bigger series of adventures, but this is Basil’s only outing (a fun side-note that the movie was able to use the voice of Basil’s namesake the famous Sherlock performer Basil Rathbone when you hear the Sherlock’s character’s voice).

The animation for The Great Mouse Detective is pretty standard for Disney films of the time. The character designs are fun, but it was also before Disney felt every character had to be a plush toy so some are kind of underdeveloped…now, everyone of Ratigan’s henchmen would have one-liners in today’s Disney movies so they could sell a toy. I do enjoy the final battle in the Clock Tower which is quite good looking for one of the earliest instances of computer-animation for an animated film.


I think every evil super-villain should sing!

Disney wasn’t pushing songs at this point in their films. The Great Mouse Detective has some songs, but they aren’t the most memorable. The musical was dead, and I guess Disney didn’t feel kids would be interested in music either because their previous film The Black Cauldron also lacked music. I feel that they should have committed to making a musical movie or just an animated…here it feels a bit stuck in-between.

It is a good introduction to Sherlock for younger kids. With the simple plot, there is enough mystery and the Sherlock style of problem solving that kids will get the idea and hopefully investigate the “real” Sherlock Holmes. I’d be ok with a recent resurgence in popularity for Sherlock Holmes for Basil to return for another adventure.  Disney followed The Great Mouse Detective with Oliver & Company in 1988.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @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.

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