by Mark Greig
Sandwiched between big hitters The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, The Rescuers Down Under is the forgotten child of the Disney renaissance. And it is not hard to see why.
The Rescuers Down Under is a rare Disney animated sequel that got a cinematic release. It is also the reason why no other Disney animated sequel has received such treatment. The film flopped so badly that it discouraged Disney from releasing any more animated sequels theatrically. Instead, they get DisneyToon Studios, a sub-division of Walt Disney Animated Studios, to knock out an endless stream of cheap straight to video follow ups to all their classics films like 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time and all those Tinker Bell movies.
I honestly don't know why they even bothered to make a sequel to The Rescuers. The original was okay, nothing special, nothing that cried out for a sequel. In fact this doesn't feel like a sequel to The Rescuers at all. Bernard and Bianca barely feature and don’t really do anything until the end of the film. This is really Cody’s film and they are just putting in a guest appearance. My guess is someone saw Crocodile Dundee one too many times and thought a film set in Australia would be more attractive to movie goers. Later they realised this was a dumb idea and shoehorned in Bernard and Bianca in a futile effort to save the project.
The film isn’t without some charms. The animation is a major step up from the first film. The scenes of Cody flying with Marahute have an almost Miyazaki-like quality to them. Percival C. McLeach, voiced by George C. Scott, is a surprisingly nasty villain and the egg scene between him and Joanna is chucklesome. And although I do think he is in the film more than he needs to be, Wilbur is a fun character, thanks mainly to the voice work by the late, great John Candy. I just can’t bring myself to ever not like a John Candy performance.
Eagles and Albatrosses
--Walt Disney Studios' chief Jeffrey Katzenberg pulled all of the film's TV advertising after it underperformed opening weekend, effectively leaving it to die a quick death at the box office.
--Technically, this is the only film released during the Disney Renaissance that isn't a musical. But that really depends on whether or not you class Tarzan as a musical.
--Jake is a rather annoying character who does nothing but flirt with Bianca and make Bernard jealous.
--So are we just to assume they went back to McLeach’s ranch and freed all the animals captured there?
--How come Cody can talk to some animals but not others?
McLeach: "I didn't make it all the way through third grade for nothing."
Bianca: "Oh, Captain. Is this a non-stop flight to Australia?"
Wilbur: "Well, uh, not exactly. No. I can definitely say no. We're gonna have to make connections with a bigger bird. Non-stop? Who do I look like, Charles Lindbergh?"
Two out of four golden eagle feathers.