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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 38: "The Rescuers Down Under"

(Originally posted in 9/22/22)


The Rescuers Down Under

Run time: 77 min.

Release Date: November 16, 1990.

Where/when I first saw it: Randhurst Cinema, 1990 (opening weekend, probably)

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Saturday morning

With the phenomenal success of “The Little Mermaid” a year prior, it seems bewildering that Disney would follow it up with a non-musical adventure tale that is a sequel to one of their less beloved films. But of course, “The Rescuers Down Under” wasn’t conceived as a follow-up, but was actually a holdover from this era that finally saw the light of day while the studio was developing other projects in the “Little Mermaid” mold. It shouldn’t suffer by comparison, but be taken on its own, or at the very least, judged against the original “The Rescuers.” As such, it was an improvement and another step forward for the studio as they continued to push themselves into the digital age of animation, utilizing a little start-up animation company called Pixar for the very first time.

The opening shot is a dazzler and a sign that this would not be a throwback to the lightweight ‘70s adventure. The entire first ten minutes, in which a boy in the Australian Outback rescues a giant eagle trapped by a poacher (voiced with villainous glee by George C. Scott), is stunning and joyous, among the best sequences the studio has ever put together. It’s almost not fair to have it at the opening of the film. Nothing after it measures up, but that doesn’t mean one should turn it off either. Along with Scott, you also get John Candy as the voice of the albatross and both Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor return as the titular heroes, this time caught in a love triangle with a new mouse character.

It’s pretty solidly paced throughout, and Bruce Broughton’s rousing score remains a pleasure to hear, certainly one the best scores the studio has ever had at this point for a non-musical. The movie’s main problem is that it starts so strong, but it can’t quite maintain the kind of momentum needed to finish strongly as well. It’s understandable that it hasn’t earned the status of a classic, but I would maintain that it's well worth watching and an interesting footnote in this era of the studio finally regaining its strength. It may not measure up to the greats, but next to something like “The Black Cauldron,” it’s no contest.


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