Here’s John Alvin’s artwork for Disney’s Rescuers Down Under (1990), the very first movie, animated or live action, ever to be entirely manipulated digitally on computers, even though most of the animation’s hand drawn.
I love the poster artwork of John Alvin, don’t ya?
My favorite character from my favorite childhood movie, The Rescuers Down Under. Which is horrendously underrated in my opinion.
The Rescuers Down Under is the first sequel in the Disney Animated Canon, it follows the 1977 smash, The Rescuers. Duh. It also is a huge leap in animation, as this is the first movie to utilize the new CAPS system. It also is the only true failure of the Disney Renaissance. Which isn’t as cool as the first two parts of this paragraph, but its something to note.
It’s weird as a kid, you never know what was actually a success and what wasn’t. Since in my house, we had the Rescuers Down Under and I watched it all the time as a kid, I didn’t know the difference between it being a box office bomb or a smash. I guess that’s what’s cool about watching movies as a child is that you don’t deal with that bullshit. You just enjoy the movie.
And honestly, I loved this movie as a kid. It’s not one that I carry close to my heart, but I remember it being part of my childhood (I really identified with heroes with blond hair like myself. Cuz they’re the best. Duh.) And it’s fun to watch. And the animation is fantastic. It’s crisp, clean, and beautiful for being such a foray into new technology.
Anywho, like the mice in this movie, I’m going to try and keep this review short and sweet, because… let’s be honest, Beauty and the Beast is next week, and I need to watch that movie at least 12 times cuz it’s that AWESOME.
The movie starts out with introducing our hero, Cody. Who is waaaayyyy more likable than that snot nose bitch, Penny, from the first movie. This is the second major improvement for this movie (after the animation, of course).
Cody is fatherless, and has a negligent mother who is probably still suffering from the loss of her husband. She never shows her face to the camera and lets her son run mad around the outback of Australia, with her only concern being “Do you have breakfast?”. I mean… I would have several other questions, especially, I don’t know, when your husband is dead, and their have been crocodile murders, and poachers all around, and just a ton of shit that a small boy could get into. Questions like: “Where are you going?” “Why are you in such a hurry?” “Why don’t you have friends besides animals?” “Do you really talk to animals?” “Are you that lonely?” “How did you get those sandwiches in your pack, I’ve been in the kitchen all morning, have they been properly refrigerated?” “How old are these sandwiches in your pack?” “How are you from Australia and don’t have an accent?” “Why do you pronounce pack so strangely?” You know… important questions a mother should be asking.
Anywho, Cody suffers from the same mental disorder as Cinderella and Aurora, you know, the one where you are so desperately lonely that you start talking to animals… Penny talked to animals too, but she was just a crazy attention seeking bitch, so I don’t know how much pity I can actually give her…
Except Cody takes it a step farther and gets emotionally involved in these animals and tries to rescue them. Even if they’re giant golden eagles strapped to the top of cliffs and he could fall to his doom and die or have his little body pecked to death by this giant, enraged eagle. Luckily, Cody has a way with animals and becomes friends with this giant eagle, Marahute. They bond over the fact that they’ve lost someone important in their family (Cody’s father, and Marahute’s mate and father of her growing eggs) and how they like soaring through the sky. And that they are both a little reckless and crazy.
Yep, that bitch is crazy.
So Cody and Marahute become best friends, and after their joyride through the sky, Cody goes prancing off, excited about his new friends. Too bad, his love for animals and excitement for the moment cause him to fall into a poacher’s trap. A poacher’s trap that belongs to the villain of this piece… McLeach.
And his stupid pet, Joanna the Goanna… Ugh.
The jury is out on which Rescuers villain is truly the more evil of the villains. Madame Medusa is a lot less malicious than McLeach, but she’s much more real. McLeach plays up the smarm. They both have absolutely OBNOXIOUS sidekicks, Snoops for Medusa, and Joanna for McLeach. I personally was/am still much more terrified of McLeach, because he like kills things for a living, while Medusa runs a pawn shop. Which one is more intimidating and villainous?
So McLeach discovers that Cody knows the location of Marahute, and he also reveals that he was the one who took out Marahute’s mate. McLeach kidnaps Cody and plans to hold him captive until he finds out the location of his big gold eagle. Luckily, a cute little mouse witnessed the entire incident and knows EXACTLY who to contact to get assistance
Bianca & Bernard, the heroes of the first Rescuers movie! Looking SO glamorous!
And it’s about time because almost a fourth of the movie has gone by and we’re just now getting to see our title characters, but whatever.
Bernard and Bianca have obviously gotten hot and heavy since their last major movie adventure. The sexual tension has turned from just tension and evolved into actual love. And Bernard is about to propose to Miss Bianca. Bernard is still as shy as ever, and Bianca still pronounces everything VERY strangely. But it’s those things that make us love them even more. And just as Bernard is about to pop the question, news of Cody’s abduction gets to the Rescue Aid Society, and it looks like a proposal is going have to wait because our two heroes are going to Australia!
The first stop is finding their old friend Orville. Except Orville isn’t around, and now we have his brother, Wilbur. Who is another major improvement from the original. One) he’s voiced by John Candy, and 2) he’s way more funny, approachable, caring, and not nearly as obnoxious, oh, and 3) he has a whole case of juice boxes ready to go with little umbrellas. A bird after my own heart.
Meanwhile, Cody’s mother finally realizes that her son is missing. But she refuses to leave the doorstep to look for him and simply calls his name across the land… Good job, Cody’s mom… way to put an effort forward…
So with 25 minutes of the movie gone, we’re finally getting knee deep into the plot of the movie, got our rescuers heading to the actual setting of the movie, and are ready to rock ‘n’ roll!
Once in Australia, we get introduced to the newest member of the party:
Jake. Who immediately has a major boner for Bianca. And within 30 seconds loses any chance of me liking him because he’s an incredibly smug, stuck up dude. Especially because Bianca is clearly Bernard’s lady and Jake needs to back the fuck off.
Oh, and this starts a silly little subplot line where Wilbur hurts his back and has to have surgery. The scene is hilarious for children, but as an adult it really just slows down the movie… Classic Disney flaw… :-/
Jake butts into Bianca and Bernard’s mission and decides to tag along. More so, he wants to cockblock Bernard and work his way into Bianca’s panties all under the guise that he’s going to assist them in tracking down McLeach and rescuing Cody.
Speaking of Cody and McLeach, it has been a hot second since we checked in on them, so let’s go to McLeach’s secret hideout and see what’s up!
Holy shit, McLeach is throwing knives. At a small boy. Intense, y’all!!
Luckily, Cody is a tough little shit and isn’t giving up Marahute’s location, no matter what. Even if he almost got sliced and diced. So in since Cody isn’t talking, he gets tossed in McLeach’s little basement with all the other poached and captured animals…
One of these animals is possibly one of the worst Disney characters ever… Frank.
Ugh. I mean, Frank isn’t as terrible as Joanna, but he’s still pretty damn awful. All he does is shriek about and screw things up and is terribly NOT funny. Ugh.
I can’t help during his one-scene wonder that Joanna comes in, eats him, and then because he has some poison on his skin that Joanna drops dead too. Sorry. Super violent y’all, but I dont’ even care. Frank and Joanna are two of the most obnoxious characters ever. Frank isn’t helpful at all and Joanna makes weird sounds, is obsessed with eggs, and has crazy eyes. Aka… The worst.
Meanwhile back over at the Love Triangle Saga, Jake is still being a major cockblock, as Bernard is finally working up the nerve to try and propose to Bianca, Jake pops in on a giant snake. In this scene, as a child, I always felt bad for the snake because he just looked so darn cute, and that Jake was being extremely demanding.
Oh, and finally, we have the Wilbur/surgery/subplot which is finally coming to an end as the creepy doctor and his Stepford nurses nearly tear up Wilbur with their strange surgery processes and Wilbur busts out of the place. It is almost as if Wilbur is so funny that he refuses to be a part of the awkward, unfunny story line.
Back in McLeach’s lair, we have McLeach trying to form a plan of how to get the info out of Cody. All the while, Joanna is sneakily trying to steal his eggs, which actually was a pretty funny scene, especially when Joanna is about to get hers when McLeach discovers her thievery of his eggs… because she deserves it for being so obnoxious. But she gets lucky, as McLeach is about to lay the snack down, he realizes exactly how to get Cody to lead him to Marahute… eggs.
MWA HA HA HA
McLeach informs Cody that Marahute has been shot dead right out of the sky. And he lets Cody go… dropping a hint that Marahute’s eggs will be lost without the mother… And Cody falls for it. Hard. As he traipses off to rescue the eggs, McLeach follows closely afterwards… And he’s going to get those eggs. Crikey! (sorry, the reviews almost done and I have just realized I have used barely ANY stereotypical Australian slang in it! I’m ashamed!)
Bernard, Bianca, and Jake tail Cody to the location of the eggs. But they are too late to warn Cody of the oncoming trap, for as Marahute approaches Cody and the eggs, McLeach is there and ready to capture the bird. Luckily, Jake has some sort of skills besides being a homewrecker and lassos himself and Miss Bianca onto Cody.
Too bad, Bernard gets left behind… Leaving Jake able to take advantage of Miss Bianca in her stressed out state… Be strong, Bianca! Don’t give into him! Even if his accent is sexy!!
So while, Bernard doesn’t have a sexy accent, he is still pretty brilliant. As Joanna descends on the ‘eggs’ to eat them for lunch, Bernard has luckily replaced the eggs with rocks. Thus tricking that nasty little goanna. Who ends up with an empty stomach and some broken teeth. Can I get a holler for Bernard?
Oh, and remember Wilbur? Who escaped from the doctor’s office? Well, he shows up at the nest, coincidentally, and in comedy gold gets stuck with the job of sitting on the eggs while their mom’s away. Hilarious. Ish. Although, I firmly believe that gender is social construct, and don’t understand why a man can’t take on a motherly role of watching the eggs… Duh. Granted it was 1990, they didn’t know any better… They thought wearing jean on jean was cute and flannel was the end all be all… Silly, silly…
Anywho, gender stereotype soapbox aside, it looks like things are looking to culminate in a huge climax! Cody is kidnapped. Marahute is captured. Jake and Bianca are seconds away from shacking up. And Bernard is racing across the outback to the rescue.
And in one of the most dramatic Disney battle scenes, one that I have fast forwarded through once or twice, we get McLeach and Joanna nearly tossing Cody into a lake of crocodiles. Luckily, Bernard shows up just in time and saves everyone! Except McLeach. Who falls over a waterfall to his doom. The only bad part about this ending is that Joanna doesn’t go over with him. Ugh.
With Cody and Marahute rescued, and the villain vanquished, Bernard finally gets to pop the question! It’s about damn time. Even Jake admits defeat finally from his conquest of Miss Bianca. And as they soar on Marahute’s back into the sky, it looks like everything worked out just right…
Except wait… Where’s Wilbur? Uh oh….
“Jake liking Bianca ruined his character for me.”
These are NOT Joanna eggs!