I received a text from BigBro the other day. In capitals, it read “RESCUERS DOWN UNDER IS ON DISNEY+, WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!”. Now, taken out of context during the Black Lives Matter protests and coronavirus still being a huge threat, this seems in poor taste.
However, my response was equally as excited: “JESUS H CORBETT, I knew there was a reason we gave money to our mouse overlords!”
Those that have kept up to date with these blogs will know the special place the animated Disney version of Robin Hood holds in our hearts (you can read that here).
But, if there was a contender to the crown, a much younger challenger that the bookies do fancy, it would be The Rescuers Down Under. The sequel to the 1977 film starring Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor as agents of the Rescue Aid Society sees the iconic duo return to save a kidnapped boy and a golden eagle all the way in Australia.
The film became a firm favourite in our household, due to some iconic lines [Editor’s Note: ‘PEA SOUUUUUP’], parodies of famous celebrities but mostly, because it was a great swashbuckling adventure film. If you have seen the film or know my family, you’ll understand why we found it so funny that a sarcastic koala would threaten an erratic frill-necked lizard that he was going to be turned into a purse, “a lovely ladies’ purse”. The film is both absurd, environmentally aware and good hearted fun.
So the returning agents, Bernard and Miss Bianca, are called into action to save Cody, a young wildlife enthusiast, who is captured by the villainous McLeach and his pet goanna Joanna (who, by the way, is the best animal sidekick in a Disney film until Tangled came along and blew them out of the water with Pascal AND Maximus…that’s a discussion for another day). Anyway, back to the plot: Bernard and Miss Bianca catch a ride with John Candy’s albatross pilot Wilbur, in yet another role that shows what an incredible talent John Candy was, and the duo arrive ‘Down Under’ and meet Crocodile Dundee-lite Jake. The trio set off in search of the captured Cody to rescue him and stop McLeach getting his hands on the rare golden eagle, Marahute.
So I received this text from BigBro and thought, Right I’m going to have to watch this now. It has maybe been twenty years since I last watched it and my goodness, it holds up well.
Firstly the film looks excellent: the sweeping camera moves, zooms, pans and lighting make it feel less like an animated movie and more like a live action film.
The film is short and zips along, which leads me to my second point.
It’s funny! Not just by Disney standards but by my comedy standards. The one-liners are quick and barbed, the slapstick is brilliant, the self-referential bits still feel relevant and the actual set-up/punchline gags work as well. It is a credit that thirty years after its release, it still felt fresh and current.
Now I have railed in the past about Walt’s Weird and Wacky Wonder Emporium buying up everything they can get their white gloved hands on and lazily remaking animated classics.
But… The Rescuers Down Under is a perfect candidate to be remade. A film that was liked by the critics and those that saw it, it flopped at the box office as it opened on the same day as Home Alone and never found the audience it deserved. But it is so cinematic and a nice blend of human and animal characters that a live action remake would work.
Some of the references can be updated and I’m sure Chris Hemsworth would squeeze his surely photoshopped abs into the film somehow, but there is something there and something I could definitely get behind.