My Disney movie last weekend was The Rescuers Down Under. I had never seen this one. It looks like it came out around the time I was starting my first job out of college, so I’d just moved, and I was dating someone, so any movies I went to around that time were more “date” kind of movies. I have to say that I wasn’t fond of this one. The flying sequences were lovely, but the story just didn’t work for me.
This may fall into the category of “overanalyzing an animated movie for kids,” but I had a hard time getting past the fact that they did that whole relay thing to signal from Australia to New York for them to send someone to rescue the kid, when all the mice along the way were a lot closer to go to the kid’s rescue, and then they had a local mouse/rat helping them once they got to Australia. It seems like an unnecessary delay to wait for someone to go from New York to Australia when there was a kid in need of help. It takes at least 24 hours to fly from the US to Australia by airplane, probably longer when part of the journey is via albatross. Surely there are adventurous creatures in Australia, in addition to the one who helped them. It struck me as rather American-centric, as though the rest of the world has to wait for the Americans to show up and take care of things for them (yes, Miss Bianca was Hungarian, but she was based in New York). I know they were trying to bring in the recurring characters, but maybe they could have been in Australia for another reason and joined the rescue effort. And then both the kid and the villain had American accents. In Australia. The kid was living in Australia and had a mother with an Australian accent, but sounded American (apparently, the actor was actually Norwegian?).
Then I thought the story was lacking the heart of the first one and had a mean streak to it. There was whatever torture the doctor was setting up for the albatross who threw his back out. That whole segment seemed unnecessary. Then there was the way the local rat kept “accidentally” letting Bernard get into danger, like he was trying to get rid of a rival, and Bianca was utterly oblivious or even accused Bernard of not being friendly. I hate that trope in romances, where the rival is clearly out to get the guy and the girl doesn’t seem to care what’s happening to her friend. Whether or not she’s interested in the rival, she should care that her friend is being put in danger.
And then there was the kid. It was nice that he had his own rescue aid thing going on, but he kept getting in trouble because he didn’t listen when someone was trying to warn him that he was walking into a trap. You’d think he’d have learned the first time not to talk over the person (mouse) trying to warn him and blunder on.
Spoilers for the ending here
Finally, it was left weirdly unresolved. Yes, they rescued the eagle and the kid and Bernard proposed to Bianca, but we didn’t get to see the eagle seeing her chicks and we didn’t find out whether they rescued all the other captive animals. I was surprised when the movie just sort of ended without wrapping up the loose ends. It would have been nice to see the other animals freed and the kid reunited with his mother and the eagle getting to see her chicks. At least in the first film, they had the TV news story to show us what happened with Penny. Here, they escaped, but we don’t know what happens to some of the characters. It felt like the movie just ran out of steam, or maybe ran out of budget and they just left off where they were.
It was all pretty dissatisfying. I think part of the problem was that this was made-for-video quality that got a big-screen release, possibly because they were playing with the computer animation technology. Also, they’d forgotten a lot of what makes the Disney films work. The primary audience may be kids, but they’re enjoyable for adults. I didn’t feel like this one had any of the adult appeal or hidden depth.
Incidentally, my mom found the “story and songs” record of the first movie in the collection of Disney records, which explains why I remembered bits of dialogue and the songs in spite of only having seen the movie once.