My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the movie is that I do not feel like it is a successful sequel. I say this because the protagonist’s presence in the film is very limited and they do not have a very active role in it. The narrative is not as tight as its predecessor is, and has weird pacing. The characters are likable, the score being more memorable than it’s predecessor, and the CAPS (while not the best here) is a blessed welcoming. I just feel like the integrity of the original is lost and it is TOO different from it.
I could not find much information on the production of this film except for the fact that they fully developed the digital CAPS system, which they used to make traditional animation on using computers; so this means no Xerography and scratchy looking films like the ones we got from One Hundred and One Dalmatians to The Little Mermaid. 415 artists and technicians went to the Australian Outback to draw for inspiration (this would be common for the studio from hereon out). The computer work cut down production by 6 months. This is Eva Gabor’s final film before her retirement in 94 and death in 1995. There was a Rescuers 3 planned to release in 1996, but the former’s death caused them to scrap the project. It started development in 1987.
So the film starts with a close up, speeded up view of many flowers, which eventually lead up to the house of Cody (Adam Ryen). He is an 8 year old who spends his free time running through the Outback and forest with no supervision. Anyways, a bunch of animals (how can they be able to perfectly communicate with him, and this is the real world?) tell him that a golden eagle named Marahute (Frank Welker) got caught in a trap, and that he is the only one who can get him. Cody sets the bird free with a knife (how in the hell does an 8 year old have a knife), and gets knocked off the tall cliff he climbed to get the bird.
So the bird catches him and takes him on a 3 minute ride, and eventually to her nest, where her eggs are laying Cody bonds with the bird, and is taken back to land. He is running around like he is a bird, which makes him unaware of his surroundings, causing him to fall in a trap. Percival McLeach (George C. Scot) goes to the trap he set, expecting to catch an animal, but is shocked and disappointed to catch a little boy. He is about to let Cody go free, but he then sees the feather of the rare eagle, which in a nutshell, causes him to kidnap Cody and throw his bag of a ledge. to make it look like he was killed by alligators.
So the message finally gets to New York, where Bianca (Eva Gabor) and Bernard (Bob Newhart) are having a romantic date. Here is the issue; we are a little less than a quarter way through the film, and our protagonists have just appeared. The pacing is really slow. So Bernard goes through his only arc of the film and tries to propose to Bianca, but fails.
Bianca is told by a messenger that they are given a task about saving a little boy in Australia. Bernard and Bianca are having a conversation, but it is one sided, as both are talking about different things. Bernard is discussing that the messenger told Bianca about the proposal, while Bianca is discussing the case that the messenger told the both of them. Thy go off to the Rescue Aid Society for Bernard to finally realize that she is not talking about marriage, but a case.
So they go to Albatross Airlines (I don’t know the real name, I just created this one) to go to Orville, but the Airlines is changed because
Orville died like his voice actor they are under new management, ala his brother Wilbur (John Candy). They tell him that they need to go to Australia ASAP for a case, which Wilbur refuses because they are under a major snowstorm, but changes his mind when they tell him the details on the case.
So Wilbur only flies half way for
a cheap comedic laugh him getting too tired, and hopped on the cargo hold on a plane to Australia. When they get there, the RAS’ local regional operative Jake (Tristan Rogers) struggles to get Wilbur to park properly, but manages to make the landing space large enough for an albatross. He gets a ladder and becomes attracted to Bianca as soon as he sees her. He says something about helping her husband with them correcting him on not being married. As soon as he hears this, his hormones shoot up and pushes Bernard to make a move on Bianca.
So we suffer from more annoying humor from Wilbur when he breaks his back, and we have to suffer from a scene of him being in the hospital, bitching and moaning as nurses stuff random needles in him. As the trio carry on their journey without
Orville Wilbur, McLeach decides to play knife darts, with Cody being the target. He does this to scare the living crap out of him to get him to tell where the Eagle is, which Cody refuses to do. Bernard and Bianca end up in the middle of the forest, and as she picks prickly things off him, he decides hat it is time to propose to her, but is interrupted when Jake saves them from a snake. He uses an intimidation tactic on the snake to get it to be their ride. Bianca is impressed and goes with Jake at the front, as Bernard is holding onto its tail to keep up. I feel bad for him.
Orville Wilbur is released from the “hospital”, and goes to look for Bernard, Bianca, and Jake. Percival McLeach is trying to find a way to get Cody to tell him about Marahute, and realizes that her eggs are his weak spot, so he tells Cody that Marahute has been shot and taken by someone else. He releases Cody, and does this to follow Cody and trap the bird and to capture it. The mouse trio FINALLY arrive to the scene, and realizes that Cody is being tricked. This entire third quarter feels like filler. As they follow Cody and Percival, Bianca and Jake ends up being trapped, and Bernard is the one to save the eggs.
Cody gets trapped (along with Marahute) and tied above a crocodile river, and is about to fall. Wilbur ends up bumping into Bernard and after Bernard switches the eggs with rocks (he did this because Joanna (Frank Welker) is supposed to drop the eggs into the river, which he does, but realizes that the eggs are rocks). Wilbur spends the rest of the film sitting on eggs. Bernard uses the technique that Jake did to get an ostrich to take him to where the others are.
Bernard gets the key, which causes the car to stop and for Percival to stall drowning Cody. He throws the keys to Bianca to release her and Jake. Percival takes a gun and shoots the rope Cody is hanging on, causing it to almost break. Bernard tricks Joanna into jumping on McLeach, causing both of them to fall in the crocodile infested river. Cody’s rope breaks as well, but gets saved after Marahute (who was released by Bianca and Jake) catches him as he falls from the waterfall. Joanna manages to escape, and Percival drowns to his death as he falls the waterfall. Marahute catches all of them, and Bianca congratulates Bernard on being a hero. He proposes to her, which she accepts. Jake congratulates them, and Cody tells Marahute to fly home, which is how the film ends.
This is a weird ending. We do not get to see Bernard and Bianca return home, Cody reunite with his mother and for everyone to know he is alive, and the other animals are never released. None of these are properly closed off.
I am disappointed in how our protagonists are handled in the sequel, but most of the characters are still likable and enjoyable.
The animation is better than it has been in years. I like the updates that they did to The Rescuers world, the bold coloring, and the fluidity. While I do like it, I do feel like I have seen better, and it is not the most memorable animation. It is a bit disappointing with how Australia looked, since I was expecting more.
I like the Australian score. It does give the film an adventure journey theme. Since there is no songs……that is it for this section.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on November 16th, 1990, it opened 4th behind Home Alone, Rocky V, and Child’s Play 2; opening with $3.5 million. Because of this, Katzenberg decided to stop promoting the movie on television (sabotage much). It ended up making $27,931,461 domestically, and $47,431,461 overall, making it an extremely minor success.
Critically, it got favourable reviews. Many did not like the absence of our protagonists in the film, and the fact that it was made off of the Western World’s obsession with Australia at the time.
Because of its underwhelming performance, it has been tossed in the Disney vault for many years, is overshadowed by it’s predecessor and all the other films in the Renaissance. The company has decided not to make sequels ever again, leaving that to another studio called Disneytoons. Many people have forgotten about or do not know what this film is.
= 28/40 = 70%
19 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: The Rescuers Down Under”
I will be out to the woods until Wednesday, and I do not know if I will have service until then. A small vacation. I wi respond if I can during the duration.
While I agree concerning most of your points (especially the weird ending, which really doesn’t wrap up anything properly)…I still think that it is one of the better Disney movies. I guess mostly because I do like Cody, McLeach and Jack.
It’s one of those movies which are really good from a technical pov, great animation, great score, some really memorable moments (for the ones who already saw it), but kind of messed up in the plot department.
For the record: The Animation studios have done two sequels since then, “Fantasia 2000” and “Winnie the Pooh”. I guess one every 10 to 20 years or so is okay, especially since none of them are really bad.
I definitrly see this as a middle film. The cast is likable though, but the substance is too sloppy to ignore. Not the worst of the renaissance though.
Well those other sequels are somewhat considered sequels since they are package films.
I count them…plus, Disney is now working on Wreck-It-Ralph 2. I guess the Walt Disney Directive to never make sequels of the movies went out of the window a long time ago.
Good review. I know I’m a little late asking this, but does is your percentage score equivilant to a letter grade?
50% = F
70% = C-
81% = B-
*does your percentage score
(Sorry for the error)
I don’t even think of an A-F system. I personally believe that a film should never even get to below a 50 because there should be at least be SOME redeeming qualities in a film that will give a section a 4 or 5.
Ah, thanks. Good point. A film without a redeeming factor shouldn’t be made, in my opinion.
This film has received a following over the years after finding an audience. For that reason, more people know what this is nowadays
Also, I didn’t think about mentioning that it made enough money on video to allow Disney to make sequels (I am the one who commented on this page days ago; I typed in a different email address).
If DisneyToons (formerly DisneyMovie Toons/Disney Video Premiere) didn’t make sequels to Disney Animated Cannon films, the Disney Renaissance possibly would’ve continued.