Link to Previous Part: The Disneyathon – Part 9: The Dark Age
This post is dedicated to Russi Taylor. The original voice actress of Minnie Mouse sadly left us on the day this post was released.
Up next is The Great Mouse Detective, which is great. No buts, it was just really entertaining.
After the disaster that was The Black Cauldron, Walt Disney Animated finally realised that people don’t mind their movies being a bit dark as long as it’s nicely balanced with a light hearted tone. It does such a good job at this that as a young lad I don’t even remember been traumatised by any of the dark terrifying imagery that is shown in this movie.
The Great Mouse Detective is quite similar to The Rescuers, but really it reminded me more of Tintin than anything. You’ve got the witty intelligent hero teaming up with the bumbling sidekick to thwart the perfectly crafted plan of the devious mastermind. There are clues to discover intertwined with some fun action sequences. There are moments when the heroes looks defeated and then they bounce back for one final showdown. When done right, I’m a big sucker for this type of story.
I can’t stress enough how much fun this movie was. At last I’ve found a movie where I have zero problems with the cast. Basil isn’t the greatest hero in a Disney movie, but it’s really entertaining to watch him come up with the most ingenious plans. Dawson and the little girl also make good side characters in Basil’s journey. Fidget is such a lovable goof that I completely forgot he’s also the king of jump-scares. Fidget rivals Mr Smee for best evil sidekick. Finally Professor Ratigan, voiced by the late Vincent Price, of course steals the show. Ratigan is on par with the silver age villains as he’s very charming but yet incredibly intimidating. Also, as far as I’m aware, Ratigan is the first animated villain to have his own self-indulgent song, and it is great by the way.
The animation has improved in recent years as they really nailed the dark empty feel of night time London. The mice size locations are filled with so much detail and life, it’s very impressive. The animation is superb, especially how they animated Ratigan as he’s very expressive. The final showdown inside of Big Ben and then on the clock hands is probably the best sequence that Disney has ever done. The sounds of thunder and the feeling of dread and fear as the monster within Ratigan takes over and completely destroys Basil. It’s the most beautifully animated sequence in this whole series thus far.
Overall The Great Mouse Detective was really, really good. This is next to Winnie the Pooh as one of Disney’s best. It’s a 9 out of 10 for me.
Hey, did you know this is technically a Disney movie? That’s a good enough reason to talk about one of the most famous animated movies of the late 80’s.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a movie about moody humans hanging out with wacky cartoon characters. Nothing new for a Disney movie, but what makes this one different is that humans and cartoons co-exist in a living, breathing society instead of Donald Duck or Jiminy Cricket hanging out with celebrities and annoying kids.
It’s also a lot more grim than most animated and live-action crossovers. The main character is depressed and likes to drink. It has a nicely nuanced post war backdrop and for a movie full of cartoon characters it feels very low key and personal. There is still some silly moments to keep it from been too grim, but unlike The Black Cauldron, Roger Rabbit completely nails it’s tone and setting.
So what we have got is another fun mystery movie as there are plenty of memorable sequences. Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit are probably the best pairing in this whole Disneyathon thus far. They work perfectly off each other as every scene with these two characters is just gold and Bob Hoskins and Charles Fleischer both give great performances. Outside of the two leads the rest of the human characters are forgettable. Benny the cab is a fun side character and Jessica Rabbit wasn’t that bad and I guess she’s the most disproportionate female character in this series, but for some reason I can’t take my eyes off her.
Easily my least favourite character is Judge Doom. I enjoyed Christopher Lloyd’s performance in the same way that John Hurt did a great job as the abominable Horned King. My main problem is Judge Doom is just too silly. He feels like he just came off an episode of Super Friends or He-Man and whenever he shows up it really messes with the perfect tone. That’s why I don’t like the final showdown – because he plays a big part in it.
Robert Zemeckis was a great choice to direct this movie as with his movies you get enough time to feel the impact of a dramatic moment, but not dwell on it too much so we can get back to the fun stuff. The animation in this movie is also really good as you can tell alot of detail has been put into ensuring that the human actors are actually interacting with these toons.
This is also one of the few Disney movies filled with actual easter eggs instead of what naughty material is Disney hiding up their skirts. It took over 40 years, but this is the closest you’ll get to a Disney and Warner Bros crossover. There is a variety of different characters from both franchises including some bonus characters like Betty Boop and Woody Woodpecker. Finding these characters ranges from in your face obvious to a Where’s Wally level of difficulty.
We seem to be on a winning streak as Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a great movie. Not as great as The Great Mouse Detective, as I don’t see myself watching it over and over as much as that movie, but I would still consider it a solid movie and one of Disney’s best. 8/10.
How fitting that the final movie of Disney’s Bronze age is also their most forgettable!
I’m guessing Disney thought people loved The Great Mouse Detective because they love the idea of Sherlock Holmes, but with mice. So they thought they could do the same with Oliver Twist and I’d like to think it’s that easy, but really it’s not.
Oliver Twist with talking animals, but also in 1988 New York and starring Billy Joel and Bette Midler. There really isn’t much to say except that the story is a bit of a mess and the movie is pretty unmemorable. Oliver the pussy cat is the most forgettable Disney protagonist, period. I’m struggling to remember what his character sounds like. It doesn’t help that the movie doesn’t really know what to do with this kid.
It’s very unfocused for a 73 minute movie, which really messes with the pacing. Oliver runs into Billy Joel’s doggie gang, who have the potential to be a fun gang of misfits. The main conflict of the movie is set around this group of characters, but that’s abandoned immediately and Oliver ditches the doggie gang for Bette Midler and the boring rich people, which honestly should have been scrapped altogether. I don’t care about any of these people and the main conflict falls flat because there is zero urgency!
Let’s get to some positives. The character design is really good and the setting is used to it’s full potential. The acting is serviceable and the animation is once again a highlight. The songs go in one ear and out the other, except for the crown jewel, Why Should I Worry? which is so stupidly catchy. Speaking of Billy Joel, Dodger the super cool mutt very much reminded me of Ferris Bueller. Both of these characters scream the 80’s to me. I guess that’s another thing, this movie very much feels like a product of it’s time rather than a movie that stands the test of time like many of Disney’s other works.
I can’t believe I’m still talking about this! Final Verdict 4 to 5 out of 10. I honestly don’t hate it or love it, but I know I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone.
There we have it ladies and gents, that’s the Bronze Age of Disney. Another inconsistent era of below average to entertaining movies. The movies we looked at today I feel are setting the stage for something great, but we’ll have to see how this plays out. As is tradition, here’s some alternate titles that I came up with.
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