The Walt Disney Company celebrates the 35th anniversary of The Rescuers with a Blu-ray + DVD combo that presents the film in high definition. Also included is "The Rescuers Down Under, the first sequel by the studio, beginning an unfortunate trend of films that fail to live up to their predecessors.
Based on the children's books by Margery Sharp, The Rescuers begins with a young girl named Penny trapped on a boat in a Louisiana bayou. She sends a S.O.S. in a bottle, which makes its way to New York City and the attention of the Rescue Aid Society, an international group of mice that meet in the UN building. Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor) requests the assignment and takes Bernard (Bob Newhart) the janitor, a nervous fellow especially when it comes to the number 13.
Miss Bianca and Bernard learn Penny is an orphan and a pawnbroker named Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page) may have something to do with her Penny's whereabouts. The mice make their way to Louisiana with the help of an albatross named Orville (Jim Jordan). Once there, they learn of Medusa's plans and work, with the assistance of local critters, to free Penny from her clutches.
The Rescuers is an entertaining children's film, though missing some key ingredients of the top-tier Disney classics. The script offers laughs and thrills. The characters are amusing, and the two lead actors' comic personae help inform the characters for adults. However, Madame Medusa is a rather forgettable villain, which lowers the stakes. The artwork isn’t as good as the top-tier Disney films.
"Gators Play the Organ":
The film's success led to The Rescuers Down Under, which finds Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor in her last film) and Bernard (Bob Newhart) heading to Australia to save a boy named Cody, who has been trapped by poacher Percival C. McLeach (George C. Scott in a funny, over-the-top performance) who wants to know the whereabouts of an eagle's nest.
It might take a while to realize this is a Rescuers film as it takes 15 minutes before the call for help goes out over the mouse network, and even when they are introduced into the story, our main characters are used more like minor ones. Due to the death of Jim Jordan, Orville has replaced by his brother Wilbur (John Candy), a character that takes up too much screen time with his antics. Helping the Rescuers search for Cody is Jake (Tristan Rogers), a kangaroo mouse that finds Miss Bianca attractive to Bernard's chagrin as he hopes to propose to her. This story would been acceptable as one episode in a TV series, but as a movie, Down Under comes up short.