Bernard and Miss Bianca are back and this time they are headed to Australia to rescue a little boy who has been captured by a poacher in “The Rescuers Down Under.” This is the first Disney animated sequel released in theaters, and for my money, is still the absolute best Disney animated sequel of all time. It’s the second film in what we call the Disney Renaissance and is the only one that is not a musical, but it’s still a lot of fun.
When I reviewed the Disney documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” I learned that this was the first fully digital animated feature from Disney. It was a great achievement in 1990 and is partially responsible for the improvements in all animation since that time. Whether this is a film you like or not, it’s a film that all Disney fans owe a debt of gratitude to. The work on this film is amazing. It’s absolutely beautiful to see. The animation still looked great upon this viewing. And, I love to see the difference between this film and previous Disney animated features, especially those that were made in the Xerox format of the 60s and 70s.
There’s just something about mice and Disney. We all know about Mickey Mouse, but Disney has succeeded with so many other mice including Timothy Mouse in “Dumbo,” Basil of Baker Street in “The Great Mouse Detective” and Bernard and Miss Bianca in “The Rescuers” and “The Rescuers Down Under.” It’s a special relationship and I’m never disappointed when Disney unveils a movie with a mouse taking center stage.
Let’s talk about this amazing cast for a moment. Comedy legend Bob Newhart stars as Bernard. This is a man that had a successful career as a comedian and had two successful TV shows here in the United States. He plays the timid Bernard perfectly. You can tell he’s scared but is driven by his sense of duty. He’s the perfect voice for this little mouse. Eva Gabor returns in the sequel as Miss Bianca. She’s the apple of every male mouse’s eye. They are all chasing her and she only has eyes for Bernard. Gabor has an excellent relationship with Disney starring as Miss Bianca here and Duchess in “The Aristocats.” This was her final film before her death in 1995 and it was an excellent film to end her career on. The actor who provided the voice of Orville the Albatross in 1977’s “The Rescuers” had passed away, so they brought in John Candy to voice his brother Wilbur. It’s a nice homage to the Wright Brothers who had the first flight in American history and brought in another great comedic voice actor. On top of that, George C. Scott, Frank Welker and Tristan Rogers step up as the voice of the poacher, McLeach; the eagle, Marahute; and the Australian mouse, Jake.
This is a rare sequel that I find to be better than the original. When I think about the greatness of “The Rescuers,” I usually think of this film first. It’s a hidden gem of the Renaissance, as it is vastly different from the rest of the films during the era. Everyone should watch this film once.