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The Rescuers
1977 - G - 77 Mins.
Director: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Art Stevens
Producer: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written By: Ken Anderson, Ted Berman, Larry Clemmons, Vance Gerry, Fred Lucky, Burny Mattinson, David Michener, Dick Sebast, Frank Thomas
Starring: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Jim Jordan, John McIntire, Michelle Stacy
Review by: James O'Ehley
   
Most of the reviews of “The Rescuers” you’ll find on the Internet will have the following to say: (a) ‘this movie came out in the year I was born’; (b) the 1970s Disney efforts were the nadir of that studio’s output; (c) “The Rescuers” is dull.

To which I say: (a) whippersnapper – I saw this movie at the cinemas while you were rubbing faeces all over your face; (b) don’t rob thirtysomethingers of their childhood memories – Disney’s “Robin Hood” was great and so was their “Jungle Book”; (c) small kids will like “The Rescuers”. I know I sure did back then.

For those who can’t remember this movie for whatever reason: “The Rescuers” is a 1977 animated Disney movie about a little girl who is kidnapped by an evil over-the-top villainess (shades of Cruella De Vil of the original “101 Dalmatians”). A distress message the girl sends out – as luck would have it - is intercepted by an international organisation that specialises in rescues run by . . . mice.

Yup, you read that right. Meeting in the U.N. building in New York, they despatch a mismatched couple of mice – the sophisticated Miss Bianca (voiced by Eva Gabor) and the superstitious and clumsy janitor (voiced by Bob Newhart).

You might remember the following bit for the wrong reasons: the would-be rescuers travel by air – in a sardine can strapped on the back of an albatross wearing pilot goggles.

OK, OK. So nostalgia is a dangerous thing.

Ever tried rewatching any of those TV shows you loved as a kid lately? Yup, try sitting through an episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man” without cringing and changing channels. Or how about “The A-Team” or “Air Wolf” for the ‘I was born in 1977 when this movie and “Star Wars” first came out’ crowd . . .

I liked “The Rescuers” as a ten-year-old boy back then, but how does it rate today, more than twenty years later? Have I tried rewatching it again recently?

Yes, I have. I bought the newly released Region 1 DVD for my nine-month-old baby girl. Sure, she’s too young to watch it right now, but I like to plan ahead. All right, to be honest, some measure of nostalgia was involved as well: I have some fond memories of this movie even though I haven’t seen it again in the interim.

(She did watch a good twenty minutes or so of it before something else distracted her – nine months old and already being groomed as a couch potato! Terrible!)

To be fair, “The Rescuers” doesn’t compare that well with more flashy recent Disney efforts such as “The Lion King” and “Little Mermaid”. The pace is slow and the animation seldomly rises above the level of your more upmarket Saturday morning TV cartoons.

Forget sophisticated humour to tide the parents through too: unlike recent animated efforts such as “Shrek” and the like, there is little humour aimed at the above ten years old set.

Also, “The Rescuers” isn’t particularly original: elements from other Disney movies will seem overly familiar.

However, “The Rescuers” isn’t as bad as some reviewers would make it out to be. Newhart and Gabor does well enough, and I just loved the way they drew the villainess’ two evil pet crocodiles. Also, it’s all quite innocent and sweet in its own juvenile way.

Remember that these movies are aimed at under-10s and not hip twentysomethinger Internet critic types. Under 10’s should have a good time, and you’ll probably find that watching this them won’t be as much a chore as sitting through straight-to-video Disney crud such as “Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” and “Jungle Book” (talk about the nadir of animation here).

Buy it for the little ‘uns, but don’t necessarily watch it with them. Unless you’re feeling nostalgic, that is . . .

By the way, a few years back it was revealed that a topless woman framed in a window in the background during one of the movie’s flying scenes could be briefly seen. It was all very fleeting – after all, it was two photographs among the film's more than 110,000 frames! However, Disney wasn’t taking any chances: they recalled 3.4 million copies of the home video release! (Unfortunately, the DVD makes no mention of this and as far as I know freeze framing through the movie won’t help, since this scene has been removed.)

A sequel “The Rescuers Down Under” followed “The Rescuers” in 1990 – thirteen years later! Apparently, the sequel is as good as, if not better than, the original film. No topless women though.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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