As a Disney fan, it's not one of my favourite.
It wasn’t until recently that I realised I was a massive fan of the Disney Animated Canon
; and after taking time to rewatch old gems like Dumbo
, Sleeping Beauty
and Snow White
and relive some fond childhood memories, I decided to pick up a copy of the first Rescuers
movie – and, frankly, I found myself quite disappointed.
To be forward about it, my major gripe with The Rescuers
is that it’s very corny. And yes, I know: corniness is a pretty big part of the reason why some of the Disney classics have aged so well. Snow White
would never work as a newly released movie, but as the classic starting point of Disney’s legacy, it’s pure gold. But the problem with The Rescuers
, if you ask me, is that it's corny in all the wrong ways.
And prominent among this corniness is the Penny character. I know quite a few people found her effective, but personally I really think she was overdone. From the very beginning, the film seems to be aggressively pushing her status as the Heartwarming Orphan
on the audience, constantly reminding us that she’s an adorable little girl we’re supposed to be feeling sorry for, to the extent that she rapidly moves from endearing to annoying. That scene at the end when she gets adopted felt like something out of a Care Bears
In terms of music, meanwhile, the movie has, in my opinion, none of the charm that made so many of Disney's other musicals legendary. Part of the reason why soft, touching numbers like "God Help the Outcasts" and "Beauty and the Beast" work so well is because they’re balanced out by loud, stirring numbers like "Hellfire" and "Kill the Beast". By contrast, The Rescuers has only three songs (unless you count that unbelievably annoying twangy country number near the end), two of them apparently devoted entirely to driving home the saccharine image of the Penny character. Pity; if you discount the poor context and tacky lyrics, they had the potential to be decent songs.
Hey, it’s certainly not a terrible film, and it has its redeeming bits; I liked the style of Bernard’s voice actor, and Madam Medusa was an entertaining villain who probably deserved a more effective film. But as a Disney classic – unless you’re sure it’ll have strong nostalgic value for you, you might want to go for some of the studio’s better-known stuff.