The Rescuers Down Under, as noted by the staff at Variety, is and isn’t necessarily a sequel. In the purist sense, it is. But that’s only because it’s a continued story of Bernard and Miss Bianca. But in the grand scheme of things, it certainly is not a sequel to The Rescuers because of that. This is for all intensive purposes, an entirely new story. It just so happens that it stars Bernard and Miss Bianca again. Other than that, it has zero links to the original movie that had been released nearly fifteen years prior. Now keeping that in mind, The Rescuers Down Under would likely be better described as a stand alone movie.
As a stand alone movie, The Rescuers Down Under is actually a good work. The grand scenes in which young Cody flies on the back of the eagle are among the greatest in the movie. No doubt Pixar had a hand in these scenes. Wait. You didn’t know about that? Those who sit through the credits will learn something very interesting about The Rescuers Down Under. The company that has become one of the biggest names in digital animation today actually played a hand in bringing The Rescuers Down Under to life. This is true. Odds are that the flight scenes, along with a handful of others were constructed at least in some part by Pixar. Whatever role they played, it reminds audiences that at one time, Pixar actually did work in hand drawn animation. It would be nice to see the company release a hand drawn/CG hybrid on its own one day.
The addition of Pixar to The Rescuers Down Under was a big part of the movie’s success. It was just one part of what made this movie enjoyable. The return of both Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor as Bernard and Miss Bianca gave this installment of the adventures of The Rescuers almost as much heart as the original Rescuers. Given, there is no beating the original. That’s a rule of movies. But the partnership of the pair in this movie was just as charming as before.
Speaking of Bernard, the story behind The Rescuers Down Under is really more about him than about Cody trying to save the eagle. Audiences see Bernard grow as a character in this movie. Whereas he was this timid little mouse in the first movie, he is forced to overcome his timidity in this movie and man…er…mouse up (ba-dump bump bump). It shows that no matter how small a man (or mouse) is, what matters is that individual’s heart. And Bernard definitely showed that while he might have been a mouse, he had the heart of a lion inside him, especially when he took that wild boar and commanded it.
The acting wasn’t all that made The Rescuers Down Under a fun watch. The bonus making of featurette continues a theme that audiences have come to know from Disney movies that has always made them great. Rather than simply draw their idea of an outback setting, the bonus making of featurette shows that the crew behind the film actually went to Australia themselves to get an idea of the region. It shows yet again that those behind the art wanted to be as true as possible for audiences, rather than simply come up with some fantastical setting. The crew even got a first hand look at animals that were native to the outback, so as to properly draw them, too. That included the evil lizard Joanna (voiced by veteran actor Frank Welker–Scooby Doo, The Garfield Show, The Real Ghostbusters, etc.)
There are those who for their won reasons have decided to pan The Rescuers Down Under. Perhaps those people didn’t take time to look into the finer details of how this movie was made. The bonus making of featurette is one more example of the importance of bonus features on any blu-ray and/or DVD release. And even watching the story’s end credits adds an extra level of appreciation in learning of Pixar’s involvement in the movie. Any movie buff would appreciate this little tidbit of extra information. All of this extra information put together with the cast’s splendid voice acting makes The Rescuers Down Under not so much an underappreciated sequel, but a movie by itself that deserves another watch by those who haven’t seen it in a long time, and a close watch for the new generation that is seeing it for the first time.
The Rescuers Down Under is available now on blu-ray as part of a triple-disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack alongside the original The Rescuers. It’s available both in stores and online. It can be ordered direct through Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com.
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