Sunday, July 1, 2012

D52 - Week 26 - The Great Mouse Detective

Elementary Kevin:
Man, looking back...The Great Mouse Detective was a great Disney afternoon TV show, wasn't it? Oh, wait. It never became a TV show, did it? But at least we get to see the 76-minute-long pilot. What do you mean, it wasn't a pilot? It was never intended to be a television series? Malarkey! Just look at the animation style and quality, and even the background music. It's exactly like a cartoon pilot, and the very idea is obviously meant to be a recurring series. Heck, it even ends setting up what the next episode would be! So the pilot happened to be released in theaters. That's just because the pilot is that good. It has some of the best songs you could hope to hear in an animated show (imagine the songs we would've gotten if the show had actually been picked up!) and even some snazzy-and-not-just-for-the-time computer/hand-drawn animation blending too. And how can you not love Vincent Price as - well, as anyone Vincent Price plays?
Favorite character: You would think Ratigan would've changed his name at some point if he's that bothered by being called a rat.
Least necessary character: Since Basil's idolization of Sherlock Holmes is played down/nonexistent (as compared to the book), Holmes himself barely needed to be "seen" or heard at all, except for the sake of pointing out the already obvious homage.
Overall: Though compared to the "bigger" productions the overall quality may seem weak, within its own scope "The Great Mouse Detective" knows exactly what it's doing (unlike a certain preceding film) and delivers well. If you like the Disney afternoon toons such as Gummi Bears, DuckTales, Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers and TailSpin, you're bound to love this over-hour-long only episode of a show that could've been.
Trivial thing: I'll buy that the mouse community at large found a way to manufacture all of their tools and equipment and such at mouse-scale. I'll even buy that the humans in that universe are tolerant enough of mice that they would allow obviously not-at-all-inconspicuous decorate mouse hole front doors at seemingly every building. And that they would call their own mug-size amount of beer a "pint." But man, those were some tiny fruits and vegetables that the angry crowd was throwing.
I neglected to mention that as of last week's The Black Cauldron, this project has officially theoretically passed the year I was born. And though I think I brought this up, it is weird to think that more than half of the 52 animated films were made and released during my lifetime. Sure, it says more about the frequency (or lack thereof) of releases before the 80s as compared to after, but it is still surprising that from here on out I'll be reviewing all of the movies that I had the chance to see when they were first released (though whether a two- or four-year-old is an appropriate moviegoer is up for debate). And yet there are quite a few I haven't seen at all yet...


Yeah, why weren't there any sequels of this movie?  Or why wasn't it made into a television show?  I would have watched that like crazy!

Okkay let's face it, part of what makes tGMD Great is what preceded it.  Having to follow a performance like The Black Cauldron must have been a piece of cake! However, it's clear that the artists were working an uphill slope at this point.  The CEOs of the company surely would have felt justified in cutting the funding after a huge flop and it's clear that the artists if given the means could have made this movie a lot more beautiful than it was.  And yet despite the hardships, the new set of animators were really starting to come into their own.  By this point the Nine Old Men were mostly out of the picture and not doing any of the animating.  In fact, some have even passed on.  The new crowd might have been just a bunch of infants with big dreams last movie, but this time around they are really cutting their teeth.

The use of computer animation is apparent in the clock scene and in a few other places, though much more conspicuously.  The story line has a focus now.  There is quick but not rushed direction that slows down enough to really enjoy some ridiculous but entertaining song and dance routines.  It just restores my faith in entertainment after watching the-movie-that-shall-not-be-named.

And remember how I hate cute speech impediments?  The little child in this movie has NO speech impediment AND has an accent!  It's like they knew how not to make me hate her!

Favorite Character:  Felitia the cat. I imagine that she got fat on nothing but Ratigan's henchmen.
Least Favorite Character: After all the colorful and inventive (though inspired-by) characters, she seems so darn bland.  The robot of her was far more engaging.

Overall: Finally, we're seeing some light at the end of the Loss-of-Walt tunnel.  I love this movie and would watch it again. Interestingly, this is one of those "the movie was better than the book" situations.  Read the book if you want to appreciate the movie even more (or don't if you can't stand being bored.)

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