tek's rating: ¼

The Rescuers (G)
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This came out in 1977. I watched it on DVD in 2012, and I'm not sure if I'd ever seen it before. I may have had a picture book based on the movie when I was little, or perhaps one based on the sequel (which I'm also not sure whether I ever saw), though that seems less likely, since... I wasn't exactly little when the sequel came out, in 1990. But my memory sucks, so who knows? Anyway, the movie is based on a series of books that I've certainly never read. Um... I should say it doesn't look like my idea of a Disney movie so much as a Don Bluth movie, which is understandable, since Bluth was an animator at Disney Animation, at the time. I should also say this movie apparently marks the end of the "silver age" of Disney animated films. So, after this, the studio wouldn't be particularly successful with animation until the Disney Renaissance which began around 1989. (Though I still think the animated movies they made in the 80s were decent.)

Well, as for the plot... a little girl named Penny is being held captive on a river boat in Devil's Bayou, and throws a message in a bottle into the water, asking someone to help her. It doesn't really make sense that the bottle went anywhere, but we just have to accept that. We also have to accept the fact that it seems to have made its way to New York, which is where she actually wanted it to go (because she had lived in an orphanage there). The bottle ends up in the possession of a society of mice called the Rescue Aid Society, which meets within the walls of the United Nations building. The Society has delegates from all over the world, and when they read the note (part of which has been rendered unreadable by liquid in the bottle), a pretty female mouse from Hungary, named Miss Bianca (voiced by Eva Gabor) volunteers to take the case. She selects a janitor mouse named Bernard (voiced by Bob Newhart) to accompany her as a co-agent.

So, together the two of them begin investigating the one clue they have, the orphanage. They meet an old cat named Rufus, who knew Penny, and gives them their next clue. (Btw, we also have to just accept that Penny can understand the speech of cats and mice and presumably other animals, though it doesn't seem anyone else does.) Their search leads them to an evil woman named Madame Medusa, whose accomplice, Mr. Snoops, was holding Penny in the bayou. Due to his apparent incompetence, she decides to fly down there herself, and so Bianca and Bernard have to follow (they get a flight on an albatross named Orville). Once they get there, they receive some help from a dragonfly named Evinrude, and some other critters. They also learn that Penny has been kidnapped by Medusa and Snoops so she can be lowered into an underground cave once used by pirates to hide treasure. (We have to accept that Medusa doesn't care about any of the jewels and stuff that Penny's already acquired, because she is only interested in the world's largest diamond, the Devil's Eye, which Penny hasn't yet found. Why she treats the lesser jewels as worthless is unclear, and though Snoops seems to appreciate their value, he doesn't just take them for himself... again, for no apparent reason.) Oh, I should probably mention that Medusa has pet alligators named Nero and Brutus, who seem more useful than Snoops. (Oddly enough, Penny isn't scared of them.)

Well... I don't want to give away any more of the plot, though of course it has a happy ending. It had some reasonably amusing bits as well as some relatively dark parts. I liked Bianca, Bernard, and Penny. I thought the animation was okay, the music was okay, the story was decent, the acting was decent. But I didn't like it as much as critics apparently did. It's hard for me to understand, not having been born until 1975, but it seems there had been some concern about the state of Disney animation in the 60s and 70s (and in fact some people might not consider some of the movies that came out during those decades to really be part of the silver age, per se). But this was supposed to be, like, a return to form... drama and heart, as opposed to comedy. And I can understand that. But even so, I like the movies from that era, too. (I really don't think Disney has an era of animated movies I don't like, even if I definitely like some more than others, particularly the golden age and Renaissance movies... and early silver age movies, which personally it's hard for me not to include in the golden age.) Apparently this is also supposed to represent the end of Disney's "sketchy animation" period, which began with "101 Dalmatians," though I'm not quite sure if that means The Rescuers was the last film to use that process, or the first not to (or perhaps more accurately, the first to use an improved version of the process). Whatever, it looked a bit more sketchy to me than some of the films that were supposed to be more sketchy than this. Or... maybe I'm just thinking of the opening credits. I dunno. Anyway, I liked the animation, but not as much as I did on some earlier and later Disney movies. Same goes for a lot of elements, such as characters, music, story, etc. Definitely liked it, but not as much as some other Disney films, including some that critics and fans who lived through that era liked less than this movie. I dunno what else to tell you.


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