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DVD Review: The Great Mouse Detective – Mystery in the Mist Edition

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Written by Hombre Divertido

Prior to the release of The Little Mermaid in 1989, the1980s were generally considered to be somewhat of a black hole for Disney when it comes to animated films. From The Fox and the Hound (1981) to Oliver and Company (1988) Disney failed to achieve the success that it had established in decades past. The Black Cauldron (1985) and The Great Mouse Detective (1986) find themselves sandwiched in this period.

In reviewing the aforementioned films, one may find that they have missed some entertaining movies. That is certainly the case with The Great Mouse Detective. No, certainly not in the same league as the wonderful films that Disney would release in the 1990s, but it is a cute movie.

Based on the Eve Titus' book Basil of Baker Street, The Great Mouse Detective follows the adventures of Basil (Barrie Ingham), the Sherlock Holmes-esque mouse detective, and his newly found sidekick, Dr. David Q. Dawson (Val Bettin), as they help young Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek) find her father Hiram (Alan Young) who has been kidnapped by the evil Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price).

It is the vocal talents of the above-mentioned artists and the direction of Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, David Michener, and John Musker, that allows this simple story to over achieve. This is just simple storytelling done well with energetic and extremely likeable characters.

Almost eight years after the first DVD, Disney releases the digitally restored Mystery in the Mist edition with an all-new “So You Think You Can Sleuth Challenge” and the bonus material that was included in 2002: “The Making of The Great Mouse Detective” and the “The World's Greatest Criminal Mind” sing-along song. Unfortunately, two animated shorts included with 2002 disc have been replaced by “Dylan & Cole Sprouses: Blu-ray Is Suite!” and “Learn How to Take Your Favorite Movies On the Go” which really have no right being listed as bonus features.

The digitally restored film looks great, but the “So You Think You Can Sleuth Challenge” will prove to be disappointing to children. “The Making of The Great Mouse Detective” is an interesting and entertaining look into the development and production of this film. Though the fact that CGI was used for the first time in a Disney film to create the chase through the workings of a clock is highlighted in the featurette, said scene still manages to be distracting as it looks too different from the animation utilized in the rest of the film. The Sing-along song is fun for all who choose to join in.

Recommendation: The Great Mouse Detective has been overlooked for too long. The performance of the legendary Vincent Price as the power-hungry Professor Ratigan alone is worth the 71-minute investment. This film is great for the whole family, though the barroom scene is a bit racy for young children. The overall energy of the film is perfect for kids, and adults will appreciate the Sherlock Holmes references including a vocal cameo by Basil Rathbone himself. There is not enough new material her to warrant the purchase of the Mystery in the Mist edition if you already own the 2002 release.

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