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The Great Mouse Detective

The Great Mouse Detective came a great time for Disney. Still reeling from the death of Walt and the previous film’s box office flop, The Great Mouse Detective came in making more than double its budget in the box office. The film came out on July second 1986, about a year after the Black Cauldron and allowed Disney Animated Studios to show signs of life.

The movie is based on a children’s book which is basically Sherlock Holmes with mice. Feeling very similar to Robin Hood the movie is has a decent story and a lot of action. The premise is nothing new, but exciting with an abduction by very mean villain. The story is a bit odd because it isn’t until the closing scenes of the movie that you understand the plan of the villain. Nonetheless it is fun and fast paced although it does lack that fairy tale charm of many Disney films.

The characters are very good. The Sherlock Holmes character, Basil, is smart and witty. He is perfectly balanced by his Watson counterpart, Dawson. On the evil side you have Professor Ratigan who is one of the few Disney villains at this point who somewhat explains why he is cruel. And his henchman Fidget.

The animation is lost in the eighties. This film just like the Black Cauldron, Robin Hood, and the Rescuers feels very generic. Around this time other animated films like The Secret of Nimh and American Tail came out from other studios and feel like a very similar art style.

The songs are getting better. There is a fun song about Ratigan and the background score is starting to help build the actions on screen again. It is not as poetic as the symphonic background of the early Disney films like Bambi and Dumbo, but it is much better than the Saturday Morning Cartoon feel of Robin Hood.

Still left out of the Oscars, but it felt like a decent children’s film and not likely to be recognized. This film was much better than the previous ones and you can feel Disney coming out of the dark ages. Soon will be the Disney Renaissance where the films started making massive profits. I feel this one could have been better received and much better merchandised if it came out ten years later in the mix with Lion King and Pocahontas. This could have had a great dark ride in the theme parks and Fidget would have been the perfect plush or costumed character roaming the parks.

This is a great effort and a lot of fun even if it doesn’t quite capture that Disney magic.

Run Time – 74 Minutes

59th Academy Awards – 0 Nomination – 0 Wins

Disney Animated Canon so far in order of Quality

1. Lady and the Tramp 6-22-1955

2. Peter Pan 2-5-1953

3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 3-11-1977

4. One Hundred and One Dalmatians 1-25-1961

5. Dumbo 10-23-1941

6. The Fox and the Hound 7-10-1981

7. Cinderella 2-15-1950

8. Pinocchio 2-7-1940

9. Sleeping Beauty 1-29-1959

10. The Adventure of Ichabod and Mr. Toad 10-5-1949

11. The Jungle Book 10-18-1967

12. The Great Mouse Detective 7-2-1986

13. Robin Hood 11-8-1973

14. Make Mine Music 4-20-1946

15. Fun and Fancy Free 9-27-1947

16. The Aristocats 12-11-1970

17. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 12-21-1937

18. Saludos Amigos 8-24-1942

19. The Sword in the Stone 12-25-1963

20. The Rescuers 6-22-1977

21. Alice in Wonderland 7-26-1951

22. The Black Cauldron 7-24-1985

23. Melody Time 5-27-1948

24. Bambi 8-13-1942

25. Fantasia 11-13-1940

26. The Three Caballeros 12-21-1944

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