Both The Rescuers
and The Rescuers Down Under
have essentially the same premise. A pair of talking mice who belong to an organization known as the Rescue Aid Society travel around the world rescuing children who have been kidnapped. They get to their destination with help from an albatross. The mice meet and befriend the child, and get help from some local animals to defeat the villain and rescue the child from danger. During this time, we even get to see the poor child's plight shown in detail.
But while the premise is the same, the execution is totally different.
In the first The Rescuers
, the victim is a young orphan girl, a first-grader named Penny. Held captive by the flamboyantly evil Madam Medusa, Penny is forced, day after day, into a cave that only a child is small enough to fit into, and is made to search for a rare diamond that Medusa covets. Penny's plight is shown in great detail, as we see her try to sneak out of the home she's being held in, get caught and brought back, and even pray for help. Her situation is played for all the sympathy that can be wrought from it, giving Penny an attachment to her teddy bear, and childlike fear and naivete that help to endear her to the audience.
The mood in general is "soft". Lullaby-like music plays at pivotal scenes to emphasize the sadness of the situation. Disney slapstick antics occur too, of course, and they tend to be fairly light and largely good-natured.
The Rescuers Down Under
takes a very different approach. Cody, a young boy, is tied up and has knives thrown at him, and is tied to a hook and dangled in crocodile-infested waters, by an evil poacher-turned-kidnapper, to try to force information out of him. This is worse than what Penny went through, but Cody's determined attitude and the fact that this is played for adventure rather than sympathy changes the mood considerably.
What's more, the humor and slapstick tends to be more mean-spirited. Wilbur the albatross spends a lot of time in a hellish hospital, receiving "humorous" treatments that look very painful and are played for comedy. Poor Bernard the mouse is mistreated by the lovestruck Aussie Jake, who has his eyes set on his lady partner.
So which is better? Your Mileage May Vary
, but I prefer the first.