After coming off the brilliance that is The Little Mermaid, I was anxious to keep working my way through Disney’s library and continue on with The Rescuer’s Down Under. Disney’s first theatrically released sequel, I had very distinct memories of watching this movie. Not good, not bad, just memories that I had seen this film more than others. I went in with a healthy dose of trepidation (this isn’t exactly considered a classic, after all) but I figured I’d still enjoy it for the nostalgia factor.
Ummm…right. This movie is kind of a train wreck.
Set in the Australian Outback, we open with young Cody leaving home and going out exploring, meeting his animal friends and learning that a giant golden eagle needs rescuing from a trap.
A few notes on this:
- What sort of terrible parent lets their no-more-than-10 year old son go wandering about in the Australian Outback unsupervised? This is Australia, where approximately 98% of the wildlife can kill you. Then again, this movie came out before “The Crocodile Hunter” was a thing, so I guess we can chalk that major plot hole up to ignorance.
- Why is the golden eagle 10 times bigger than a grown man?? I know Australia is known for large animals, but this is just crazy. Again, I think all animal inaccuracies can be attributed to this movie coming out before we ignorant Americans actually knew anything about the Outback.
Back to the plot: as Cody is out gallivanting around the wilderness, he falls into a giant pit. Enter McLeach, the jerk poacher who tears a path through the forest with a way-too-massive truck/cage combo. Cody, ever the dumbass, calls out McLeach for being a poacher (kid, the guy has a shotgun. Play stupid and just go home). Unfortunately, McLeach sees a golden eagle feather in Cody’s backpack, decides it must mean Cody knows where the bird’s nest is, and promptly kidnaps him and locks him up in a cage.
- McLeach, isn’t is at least vaguely possible that Cody just found this feather lying on the ground? How do you magically know he knows the bird just from that alone?
- In what world is kidnapping this kid the best solution?? Why don’t you just let him go and then follow him back to the nest? No, let’s abduct him and just hope he tells you where to find the bird. Completely logical idea.
Lest we forget, let’s remember that this is still a “Rescuers” movie. Interspersed throughout the film are small inclusions of Miss Bianca and Bernard, the mouse duo who takes on the task of helping rescue Cody, and who spend most of the film just traveling halfway around the world to get to Australia (are there seriously no other mice “Rescue Aid Society” workers closer to the situation to lend a hand?). Once they reach the continent, they’re met by Jake, a weird mouse/kangaroo hybrid who is somehow the only character in the entire film with an Australian accent.
Jake spends most of the movie flirting with Miss Bianca, much to poor Bernard’s chagrin. They help a little bit in rescuing Cody, but most of the time these felt like two completely separate films.
There are plenty of other issues and plot holes in this film, in addition to things that just do not make sense. A small sampling of these problems follows:
- Why is Frank, the obnoxious little green lizard trapped by McLeach, even a character in this film? He’s not funny, he has no sense of urgency (wasting time and making noise when his life is literally on the line), and he foils Cody’s escape plans simply because he’s a dope. Maybe this character is entertaining to kids, but to adults he’s just ridiculous.
- Why in the hell is there an entire subplot built around Wilbur, the wise-cracking albatross (note: not the same albatross as in the original Rescuers. This is his brother). Oh yeah that’s right, it’s because he’s voiced by John Candy, so obviously the writers felt he needed a little more screen time. John Candy is awesome, but this side plot went absolutely nowhere.
3. Can someone explain to me exactly what sort of animal Joanna is supposed to be?!?! Is she a komodo dragon? A radioactively enhanced gecko? What is this??
There are so many problems with this film that I really just can’t even explain what was going on. The only saving grace of the movie was the animation, which was actually quite impressive. Disney’s first attempt at computer-generated animation, the jump in animation is quite clear, making for a few truly beautiful scenes. Although still in their infancy, the computer graphics were well-used in crafting the Australian Outback and creating a beautiful 3D world. Unfortunately, the art was not enough to save this film. It’s odd to think this came out after The Little Mermaid, a much better indicator of Disney’s abilities as animators and storytellers. I’m glad this movie is behind me, a minor blip in the world of Disney, easily forgotten amidst the far superior films of its day.