Director: Wolfgang Reitherman, John Lounsbery, Art Stevens
Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Michelle Stacy, Joe Flynn, John McIntire
Plot: Kidnapped girl, Penny (Stacy) sends a message for help in a bottle, which ends up being picked up by the Rescue Aid Society, run by mice.
The Rescuers is a strong idea from Disney. Based off of a collection of sweet books, the Rescue Aid Society charts the story of an international group of mice that are ready to answer any call of help. The movie plays out like a detective novel with two mice (Bernard and Bianca), tracking down clues and following each strand of questioning to their answers. The crime-solving nature is given an extra dimension of interest because, as tiny mice, they need to use their brains that little bit harder to get around problems. Using dragonflies as a form of transport, smuggling their way into the villain’s suitcase, even something as tiny as Bernard using a comb as a ladder… it all makes up that tongue-in-cheek sense of Disney fun we expect from the animation studio.
It’s a strong idea, but sadly, there is something major lacking from this Disney entry. Perhaps it is the continuing trend in the Disney films of this era that everything feels frustratingly recycled. The Rescuers features an assortment of animals all working under the noses of humans to achieve their own existence. While the majority of this movie features mice, we also get appearances from an ageing cat, a cocksure Albatross and two burly alligator henchmen. Those alligators are almost definitely the greatest thing about this Disney, as terrifying as they are comical. The best scene of the movie features the mice hiding in a church organ, while the alligators try to force them out. The only downfall of those alligators is that the writers find more mileage out of making them funny, rather than dangerous, so eventually, over the course of the movie, the alligators lose their threatening edge and become a source of jokes. Perhaps that was inevitable, considering the script asks these alligators to lose a fight to a pair of mice. Sadly, the Rescuers rarely breaks away from anything more than a sense of adorable or amusing. The relationship between Penny and the mice threatens to be something new, but struggles to escape the achievements of the past. And Madame Medusa, while promising to be a great villain, ends up becoming a sub-par Cruella De Vil, an ageing hag of a woman who is obsessed with material things. While swampland USA adds some fresh material to the mix, Medusa fades away into a forgettable mess, right down to the pathetic companion baddie. Back then, it must have seemed like Disney was running short of ideas. Or apparently not… The Rescuers marks one of the rare financial achievements of early Disney, this film being one of the few movies to earn a sequel from Disney themselves. The verdict on the sequel will be a case of crossing that bridge when we come to it, but right now, Rescuers remains one of the more disappointing efforts from Walt Disney.
Final Verdict: Sadly, Rescuers marks one of the low points of Disney, an OK idea stealing from the successes of the past, resulting into a forgettable effort.