The Rescuers Down Under is the 1990 sequel to Disney's 1977 film, The Rescuers. It is the 29th entry in the Disney Animated Canon and is also the first sequel to one of their previous films and would be the only sequel in that canon until 2018, when Ralph Breaks the Internet came in. Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor reprise their roles as Bernard and Miss Bianca, being the last performance for Gabor before her death in 1995.
Set in the Australian Outback, the Evil Poacher McLeach (George C. Scott) has kidnapped a young boy named Cody (Adam Ryen) in order to snare Marahute, an endangered eagle large enough to ride around on. Naturally, Bianca and Bernard must come to the rescue, with help from Orville's brother Wilbur (John Candy) and Jake (Tristan Rogers), the mouse equivalent to Crocodile Dundee. Down Under was also a pioneer in the use of CGI. Unlike the first film, which was a huge success, Down Under actually failed at the box office, making it the only true failure of the Disney Renaissance.
Disney was facing a future with computer animation rapidly changing the state of the art. They used the movie as a test bed of their new CAPS coloring system — instead of hand-painting cels, you could now use a computer program to color the animation. This saved a considerable amount of time and hand-drawn animation was now easier to integrate into CGI backgrounds and effects (and also allowed for extensive use of Cel Shading). In Down Under, the test run of this system had mostly decent, sometimes amazing (especially during Marahute's flight), and sometimes mixed results. They had mastered it brilliantly by the time of Beauty and the Beast, the following year.
This film provide examples of:
- The Ace: Jake.
- Adult Fear: Cody's kidnapping is more impactful than Penny's, since unlike orphan Penny, Cody has a mother. One powerful scene shows his house while his mother cries "Cody!"
- Airplane Arms: Cody doing a Marahute impression.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Joanna the Goanna acts more like a pet dog than anything. She begs, she whimpers, she wags her tail, she crawls through doggy doors, and she watches McLeach's catches like a guard dog. She also is as sneaky - and smart about it - as any hound dog.
- All There in the Script: The captive Kangaroo is a Red Kangaroo named Red.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Many animals are their correct colors, with Frank the frilled dragon and Joanna the goanna being the exceptions. They're very, very green, while real-life frillies are brown and most of the Australian goannas are brown or gray.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Even animals that can't talk, such as Joanna, still tend to understand speech and act with human or near-human intelligence.
- Animation Bump: The thirteen years between movies helps out a lot, obviously. Most of the animals avoid the "dots for eyes" thing, and the Skin Tone Sclerae thing is avoided with the main characters. Down Under was also the first in movie history to render 2D animation with computers.
- Anything but That!: Being killed and skinned is bad enough, but Frank really doesn't want to be made into a lady's purse.
- Artistic License Biology: Under no circumstances would a modern-day eagle grow to the dimensions of Marahute, whose head is larger than most of Cody. Her wingspan could easily be estimated at well over twenty feet long in some shots (the biggest eagles would be a stretch to reach nine feet), which puts her on par with teratorns and giant pterosaurs. She's also very smart and way more friendly then a typical bird of prey (which would probably attack anyone that tried to touch them). The film does acknowledge this, as the rarity of an eagle being that size is the main reason McLeach is hunting her in the first place!
- Ask a Stupid Question...: When Cody asks Frank the frilled lizard the following question:Cody: Hey! Where did you come from?Frank: Um... the desert?
- Awesome Aussie: Jake, a kangaroo rat and champion outdoorsman with whom Bernard battles for Bianca's affection.
- The villain, McLeach, is an evil version of the Awesome Aussie, a poacher and trader in Australian wildlife who keeps a pet goanna and is able to fight off a horde of hungry crocodiles.
- And Cody is a kid version of the trope; despite being 8 years old, he scales large cliffs with ease, travels around the outback all by himself, and isn't the least bit impressed by McLeach' tactics to try and make him reveal Marahute's location.
- Ax-Crazy: McLeach, who clearly enjoys being a violent murderous thug even beyond wanting to make himself rich.(as he lowers a helpless child into a crocodile pit) "Now this is what I call fun!"
- Bald of Evil: A variant; McLeach has notable male-pattern baldness.
- Big Bad: McLeach is the film's antagonist, who kidnaps Cody and seeks to capture and kill the eagle Marahute.
- Big "NO!":
- McLeach gives off one as he plummets to his doom down the waterfall.
- So does Cody the moment he's accidentally swept off the cliff when he frees Marahute.
- And when McLeach says to Cody that someone shot Marahute right out of the sky...
- Book Dumb: Percival "I didn't make it all the way through third grade for nuthin'!" McLeach is quite uneducated, but don't let that ever make you think he isn't cunning or insidiously clever—especially when you consider he probably built that "truck" of his. That's an impressive piece of engineering. Even more impressively, when he kidnaps Cody, he tosses his back pack to the Crocodiles. This is later found by the Rangers while looking for the missing Cody, believing that the crocodiles had eaten him. McLeach waits until the search is called off to go out looking for the Eagle again and emotionally manipulates Cody into leading him to the nest. And to top, now that Cody is useless to him, he plans to feed Cody to the same pool of Crocs he tossed the back pack into, considering that if the body was to turn up, it would only confirm the initial reported death of Cody. Considering that his entire villainy in Kidnapping Cody is done largely on the fly, he's one of the most intelligent members of Disney's Villains ever.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Bernard has a very hard time working up the nerve to propose to Bianca. Jake does not help.
- Captain Crash: Either Orville taught Wilbur how to fly badly or they both inherited a clumsiness gene.
- Chekhov's Skill: Jake tames a snake through intimidation to get the gang a lift through marshlands. Bernard pulls the same trick on a razorback boar to save the others.
- Code Emergency: The Rescue Aid Society calls a Code Red emergency meeting to announce that Cody has been kidnapped.
- Conspicuous CG:
- The opening sequence.
- Even more conspicuous: The scenes where Wilbur is flying over the Sydney Opera House and through New York City.
- Any scene featuring McLeach's half-track.
- Continuity Nod: Orville's flight number is 13 in the first movie, where Bernard makes a big deal out of it. Even though the superstition never comes up in Down Under, when Wilbur is attempting to land, he identifies himself as Albatross One-Three.
- Cool Car: McLeach's half-track.
- Cowardly Lion: Bernard. He insists he's just a lowly janitor, he stutters and can be a nervous wreck, but if others are depending on him, he's unstoppable.
- Cute Giant:
- Marahute the giant eagle.
- To mice, humans are giants, so naturally human children will qualify as cute giants from the perspective of the mice as well.
- Deadpan Snarker: Krebbs the koala, one of the many animals trapped in McLeach's hideout, seems to be one of these.Cody: Frank, you're free!Frank: I'm free? I'm free, I'm free, I'm free, I'm free!Kangaroo: Shhh... Joanna will hear.Krebbs: Double or nothing, he's caught in 5 minutes.
- Digital Destruction: Some prints of the movie edit the knife throwing scene by replacing the shots where the knives come within inches of hitting Cody with cuts to Joanna in her bathtub, eating animal crackers... probably because the knives were too scary for children.
- Disappeared Dad: Cody mentions that his dad is "gone" and empathizes with the unborn eagles whose father was shot pre-movie.
- Disney Villain Death: McLeach narrowly avoids being eaten by crocodiles only to fall off the edge of a waterfall.
- Don't Explain the Joke: The slogan for Albatross Air.Wilbur: "Albatross Air. A fair fare from here to there." Get it? A fair fare? It's a... a play on... never mind.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: When the mouse wife at the fancy restaurant hits her husband after she thinks he was trying to play footsie with her under the table, it's presented comedically.
- The Dragon: Joanna, almost literally.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Apparently, feeding Cody to crocodiles is McLeach's idea of fun.
- Evil Is Hammy:George C. Scott as McLeach.
- Evil Poacher: McLeach.
- Eureka Moment: McLeach realizing Marahute's eggs are Cody's weakness.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Crocodile Falls turns out to be well-named.
- The Faceless: Cody's mom's face was never shown in the movie. However, in all other productions based on Down Under, she was completely visible.
- False Reassurance: The mouse doctor on the prospects of his patient: "Now now, my dear. Keep a stiff upper lip. They all come in with a whimper, and leave with a grin." Think about it a minute.
- Faux Affably Evil: McLeach often acts in a way that is almost charming, but his true, brutish traits always shine through.
- Fed to the Beast: McLeach tries to feed Cody to crocodiles in the film's climax.
- Free-Range Children: Cody lives in a very sparsely inhabited area of Australia, and his mom doesn't have any problem with him running around. It's pretty viciously deconstructed when he walks into McLeach.
- Friend to All Living Things: The opening scenes establish Cody as somebody who has many friends among the local animals and goes out of his way (and puts himself in danger) to rescue animals in trouble. At age eight (see Free-Range Children, above).
- Friendly Tickle Torture: Near the beginning, after Cody frees Majestic Eagle Marahute from a trap set by Mcleach, The eagle flies him around for a ride across the sky. During the event, Marahute catches Cody in her talons and tickles his tummy while in her grasp.
- Gale-Force Sound: Wilbur's radio.
- Gallows Humor: Krebbs the koala, convinced that escape is hopeless, indulges in some. It's implied he regularly teases Frank about being made into a "lovely lady's purse."
- Giant Flyer: Marahute is the closest to the trope, but in one scene, Wilbur is dwarfed by a trio of massive pink stork-like birds.
- Gilligan Cut: Bernard getting Wilbur to sit on Marahute's eggs.Wilbur: Oh, no. Hold it! I know what you're thinking, and you're wrong! Don't even— No! Don't look at me like that! You getting "no" from me! You understand? No, I will not ever sit on those eggs! [cut to Wilbur now sitting on the eggs] Aww, nuts! Gotta learn to be more assertive. No is no is NO. [to the eggs] Hey! Quit movin' in there!
- Glove Snap: "All right, girls, snap to it! (snap) Oh! That smarts..."
- Green Aesop: Anti-poaching.
- Guns Do Not Work That Way: McLeach apparently has a double-barrelled, pump action, side-by-side shotgun with a scope. And a foresight.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Cody, who tries his hardest to protect Marahute from McLeach.
- Head in a Vise: Wilbur wakes up from sedation at the doctor mouse's office and mutters that he feels as though his head is in a vise. Then he looks up to see his head indeed stuck in something. Presumably the doctor thought this was helpful to their practice, but he never explains how.
- Help Mistaken for Attack: During the scene with Marahute the eagle trapped under rope, when Cody arrives to free her, and takes out a knife, Marahute seems to (temporarily) interpret this as an attempt to wound or kill her rather than to free her.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: A flurry of these. Of course, it's likely Jake was making it all up to impress Bianca. Then again, it is Australia.Jake: So, which way you taking? Suicide Trail through Nightmare Canyon, or the shortcut at Satan's Ridge?Bernard: S-s-suicide Trail?Jake: Good choice! More snakes, less quicksand. And once you cross Bloodworm Creek you're scot-free, that is until... Dead Dingo Pass.
- Ignoring by Singing: Frank the frill-necked lizard covers his ears and sings "Waltzing Matilda" when Krebbs the koala starts describing what the poacher is going to do to them. Then Frank uncovers his ears to see if Krebbs is done, only for Krebbs to just now finish his sentence, to Frank's horror.Krebbs: Frank will go as...
Frank: I can't hear you! LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA! WALTZING MATILDA! (slightly uncovers his ears to see if Krebbs is done)
Krebbs: ...a purse.
Frank: AAAH! NO-HO-HO-HO-HO!
Krebbs: A lovely ladies' purse!
Frank: I DON'T WANNA GO AS A PURSE!
- Improvised Lockpick: Frank tries to pick the lock of his cage with his tail. It takes him a while but he succeeds.
- Inevitable Waterfall: The site of the aforementioned Disney Villain Death.
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- Wilbur bears quite a resemblance to John Candy in terms of facial features.
- George C. Scott seems like the performance model of McLeach.
- Interspecies Friendship: Aside from the mice and Cody, the film also has Cody feeling very attached to Marahute the eagle, though she can't speak to him the way all the other animals can.
- I Want My Mommy!: Wilbur gets scared in the hospital, and calls for mother.
- Knife Nut: McLeach throws, flourishes, or menaces Cody with a variety of large, unpleasant skinning knives. Of course, as a professional poacher he's got to be skilled with such implements, but does he have to enjoy it so much?
- Knife Outline: Done intentionally by McLeach when he's trying to intimidate Cody into revealing Marahute's whereabouts.
- Land Down Under: Naturally.
- Large Ham: Wilbur and Frank, albeit to a lesser extent than the McLeach.
- A Lizard Named "Liz": In this case, a Goanna named Joanna.
- Lyrical Dissonance: McLeach's version of "Home On The Range" mentioned below. The melody is still cheerful, but the words... well, don't ask.
- Mad Doctor: The unnamed mouse doctor that is assigned to cure Wilbur's back problems is clearly a few eggs short of a dozen. Who else but a Mad Doctor would load syringes in a double-barreled shotgun and use a chainsaw in surgery?
- Match Cut: Marahute returning Cody to the ground, after they visit her nest.
- Meaningful Name:
- Midflight Water Touching: On their first flight together, Marahute holds Cody above a river and lets him skate on the surface.
- The Millstone: Joanna is one to McLeach.
- Misplaced Wildlife:
- Although Australia does have a large native eagle species (the wedge-tailed eagle, which can have a wingspan of over eight feet), she's referred to in the film as the 'great golden eagle', which is either a conflation with Aquila chrysaetos, a (much smaller, less flashy) North American species, or more likely a species made up for the purposes of the film.
- A downplayed example — the presence of crocodiles clearly indicates being set in the Northern Territory, but wombats, only found in the southeast of the continent and Tasmania, are shown among the wild animals early on.
- Morton's Fork: McLeach asks Joanna if she knew about the razorback that just ran out of his truck. At first she nods (implying she knew it was there and hadn't done anything about it) and then, when McLeach gets angrier, she shakes her head (implying she wasn't guarding the truck properly). She gets in trouble anyway.
- Mouse World: Down Under is notable for the sheer number of ways the movie shows the mice interacting with humans and their technology, as they go about their business.
- Mundane Utility: Though not fully shown, McLeach intends to use a blowtorch to cook his dinner during the "eggs" scene.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Bernard and Bianca can't get Wilbur's attention until Bernard turns off his stereo.
- Musical Nod: When the delegates are summoned, a snippet of the Rescue Aid Society's theme (from the first film) features in the score.
- National Animal Stereotypes: Jake is an Awesome Aussie "kangaroo mouse" who wears a khaki shirt and a slouch hat, uses a boomerang, and talks with an Australian accent. Krebbs the koala and some of the kangaroos have the accent too.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: McLeach tries to feed Cody to the crocodiles.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Adam Ryen as Cody and George C. Scott as McLeach. Most of the animals in Down Under as well; only Jake, Krebs the Koala and a handful of kangaroos have noticeable Australian Accents.note
- Nothing Can Save Us Now: Jake to Bianca, during the climax.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Happens to Bernard and Bianca the first time he tries to propose. Bernard tries to propose to Bianca, but misplaces the ring. While he looks for it, Bianca receives word of the mission to Australia and is urgent to inform Bernard about it. The waiter volunteers that he'll tell Bernard about the case, but Bernard is too focused on his proposal to listen and he dismissively blows the waiter off. When Bernard returns to the table and tries to propose again, Bianca thinks he's talking about the mission and accepts. He is delighted, but is perplexed that she wants to do it now, and that she only needs to wear khaki shorts and hiking boots.Bianca: Bernard, did you talk to Francois?
Bernard: Ah, yes, but uh.. there's... there's something I want—
Bianca: I know exactly what you're going to say. Francois told me all about it.
Bernard: He did? How, how... how did he-
Bianca: Oh, it doesn't matter, I think it's a marvelous idea.
Bernard: You do? I mean, you... you really want to?
Bianca: I don't think it's a matter of wanting. It's a matter of duty.
Bernard: D-duty? I... I never thought of it... well, umm... all right.... all right. How does-how does next ah-April sound to you?
Bianca: Heavens, no! We must act immediately tonight!
Bernard: Tonight? But, but, ah.. wait! [cuts to them walking down into the Rescue Aid Society headquarters] Uh, Bianca, this is so sudden! I mean, don't you at least need a gown or something?
Bianca: No, just a pair of khaki shorts, and some hiking boots.
Bernard: Hiking boots?
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Usually only noticeable on a second viewing, but one of the R.A.S. members is named Frank, who is clearly not the frilled lizard we meet later on.
- Parental Abandonment: Cody mentions to Marahute that his father is "gone." There are strong implications that he was another victim of the notoriously dangerous Australian Outback, but it could have been actual abandonment.
- Parrot Expo-WHAT?:Mouse Doctor: Bring me the Epidermal Tissue Disruptor![cue chainsaw]
- The Patient Has Left the Building: Wilbur tries escaping from the hospital in which he was confined after hurting his back, with the Doctor Mouse and his nurses chasing after him, trying to bring him back to the operating room.
- Pet Gets the Keys: When Cody is trapped by McLeach with some of the animals he's poached, Frank the frilled lizard manages to free himself and tries to get the keys to Cody. Unfortunately, Joanna arrives to stop him.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Your spine needs tender! Loving! Care!"
- Punny Name: Just like his brother Orville, there's Wilbur the air service birds. Also, Joanna the goanna. (Goanna being the local Australian name for monitor lizard.)
- Reckless Gun Usage: For a poacher, McLeach does not handle his rifle properly, the first instance of this being when he uses it (already loaded and cocked) to pull Cody out of a trap.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: McLeach figuring out how to get Cody to hand over the eagle.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Joanna and some wild crocodiles. Frank the frilled lizard is harmlessly insane, so he's an exception to the trope.
- Romantic False Lead: Jake for Bianca.
- Scared of What's Behind You: the Big Bad, McLeach, starts bragging about having "whooped" a bunch of crocodiles...only to turn around and see that they were really trying to avoid the Inevitable Waterfall.
- Scavenged Punk: Much of the equipment in the film is built from human materials, but it's almost purely a background element.
- Seldom-Seen Species: Australia - it's not just for kangaroos! Tons of seldom-seen species are present, but they're all extras: the three prominent Australian animals are Marahoute (who's called a golden eagle, but seems to be either a fictional species or a massively oversized wedge-tailed eagle), Jake (who could be a member of any of several small hopping mouse-like species), and Joanna (a monitor lizard, most likely a Spence's monitor given her size). Additionally, the bird chart Jake looks at when Wilbur is about to land shows such rarities as scrubbird, lorikeet, honeyeater, butcherbird, galah, noisy miner, rufous whistler (misspelled as "rufus whistler"), crested bellbird, freckled duck and flowerpiercer (the last one being a South American species - it was probably confused with the similarly-named flowerpecker, which does live in Australia).
- Sequel Goes Foreign: As you can tell from its name, the second movie shifts the action to Australia.
- Shark Pool: The waters near Croc Falls, which, appropriately enough, are infested with crocodiles!
- Shoot the Rope: How McLeach tries to drop Cody in with the crocs. He doesn't find it as easy as it is in most movies, but he only missed once on the first shot.
- Shout-Out: When Wilbur is about to escape from the hospital after hurting his back, he yells, "You'll never take me alive," a reference to the Australian song "Waltzing Matilda."
- Soft Water: Averted when McLeach falls of a waterfall to his death.
- Something We Forgot: The film ends with Wilbur as an unwilling babysitter to Marahute's newly-hatched chicks.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: McLeach, seeing Cody shaking the cage and demanding to be let go, tells him, "You need to be QUIET!! ...or the rangers might hear you."
- Suggested by...: The Rescuers Down Under characters created by Margery Sharp.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Wilbur is Orville's previously unknown brother as Jim Jordan, who voiced Orville, died before the second film was produced.
- That Liar LiesMcLeach: It's over boy, your bird's dead. Someone shot her. Shot her right out of the sky! [makes a shooting gesture] BANG!
[Joanna pretends to be shot and falls dead on Cody's lap]
Cody: [backs away] NO!
McLeach: What do you mean "no"? Calling me a liar?
- 13 Is Unlucky: Meta-example. Thirteen years passed between the theatrical debuts of the two movies, and Down Under ended up being the least successful movie of the Disney Renaissance. (it's the only one to be a clear Box Office Bomb due to opening against Home Alone, and while it did make up some of the loss as a The Classics title on video, it convinced Disney to make the remaining Disney Renaissance films musicals in some part and other sequels outside the canon until Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.)
- Took a Level in Badass: Happens to Bernard the moment he decides to wrestle a razorback to the ground.
- Underside Ride:
- Bernard, Miss Bianca and Jake get under McLeach's truck to follow him when he goes after Cody.
- Wilbur pulls off a variant when he taxis in an airplane wheel compartment.
- Villain Song: McLeach sings his own short one to the tune of Home on the Range without musical accompaniment.McLeach: Home, home on the range, where the critters are tied up in chains! I cut through their sides, and I rip off their hides, and the next day I do it again! Everybody!
- Wham Line: "I've already got the father."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Ironically, in this film we know what happened to the mice: it's a bunch of other creatures that drop off the movie's radar. What happened to the rest of the animals caged up in McLeach's hideout? They get plenty of screen time, names and personalities start getting established, and then... we never see them again.
- With This Ring: The first time Bernard tries to propose, the ring falls out of his pocket and he has to go through some awkward moments to get it back.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Ahem. Marahute's Flight.
- Would Hurt a Child: McLeach most definitely would. Apparently, this is Wilbur's Berserk Button.
- Vocal Evolution: Miss Bianca's voice in the sequel sounds more quiet and slower then in the first film.