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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: The Rescuers (1977), Channel 4

The Rescuers
Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Joe Flynn, Jim Jordan
Genre: Animated Comedy- Drama Adventure
Studio: Walt Disney Productions
Worldwide Lifetime Gross: $71.2 million

Plot: Bernard and Miss Bianca, 2 New York City mice, are members of the Rescue Aid Society: an international team that operates beneath the United Nations and comes to the aid of those in need. After receiving word that Penny, a young orphan has been abducted by Madame Medusa, an evil woman seeking a precious diamond, the two set out to bring her back home, with help from other animal friends. 

'Beneath These Cute & Adorable Protagonist Characters Lies Warmth and Heart Within The Film'

In 1982, animated historian Adrian Bailey called The Rescuers ''the best cartoon feature to come from the studio since 101 Dalmatians''. Over 30 years have since passed and whilst this statement doesn't ring entirely true, insofar as there have been other Disney films that came right after this release that are in many respects superior to The Rescuers, there is still a polish that it has to it, as well as a charm that graces this particular feature that has helped garnered new generations of fans, especially those who are into Disney movies.

Released in 1977, the film won the hearts of audiences that it became the first Disney animated feature film to warrant a theatrical sequel in the early 1990s, The Rescuers Down Under. The Rescuers gained notable attention at the time of Disney's difficult and dark periods for its often cute-looking protagonists. Compared to The Aristocats and Robin Hood, it doesn't rely on reused animation and already established fairy tales and formulas, but rather on an original and unique storyline, based on the original book. Something that I wished Disney would revisit more often today.

The film is centred around Rescue Aid Society: an organisation comprised of animals, who are dedicated to rescuing and aiding abduction victims from all over the world. They are led by two mice, a janitor named Bernard and agent, Miss Bianca.

The Rescuers still looks fantastic with great attention to detail and wonderful character designs. The animation itself is so well developed, the way the characters move is exquisite. The antagonist Madame Medusa is the film's Cruella Di Vil and though she isn't as wicked and menacing as the 101 Dalmatian's evil queen, she still makes for a decent bad guy. She looks like Janine from The Real Ghostbusters on crack.

Even with the film being relatively short, it packs a lot into it and there are some interesting action scenes. The one thing it lacks is the surprises and plot twists, but given the length of The Rescuers, what Disney achieved and gave us in return was good, all in that short space of time, is all right. It feels solid overall.

The Penny character may sound like a young person when she speaks, but she looks like she is 10. She doesn't look young enough to me. Still, she is the heart of the main story and you feel for her, given her situation and want her to get her happy ending. Penny remains grounded as a character, who also comes across as sympathetic and rather genuine, in terms of her characterisation, mannerisms. As an orphan, she has no family and no one to miss her and Medusa does all she can to keep her captive. Her ordeal is heart -wrenching, yet it concludes on an emotionally satisfying note. Medusa also has her eyes set on the loot, well to be more exact, a diamond, but she recruits Penny to help her retrieve it.

The budding romance involving Miss Bianca and Bernard is sweet and adorable to see, their relationship is the film's highlight and the characterisations in this film are done well.

Final Verdict:

The Rescuers was a lot more serious and dramatic in tone and the characters existed to touch our emotions, and I think given that Disney decided to opt for a more serious feel, works wonders for this film. Had it been comical or overly humourous, it would not have worked very well and made it more silly.

Notwithstanding being as relatively well known and as heralded alongside Disney's most popular and established offerings, The Rescuers has a heartwarming and poignant story, containing interesting characters and the film has some interesting scenes. What it lacks in ''oomph'' and the feisty-ness of Disney's latter motion picture features like Aladdin, Toy Story and The Lion King, it makes up for heart and endearing -yet likeable main characters in eventual coupling, Miss Bianca & Bernard.

I also loved the ending to this film, and it was such a great way to conclude it.

By far Disney's best and most impressive offering from the 1970s, The Rescuers is a movie that for all of the cutesy looking characters that thereby it also lies heart, charm and warmth aplenty. 


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