Picks and Pans Review: Rescuers Down Under

updated 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Animated

When an environmentally concerned young boy is snatched by an evil poacher in Australia, an emergency call goes out over the international mouse network to New York City. Once again those resourceful rodent rescuers, Bernard and Miss Bianca, must sally forth, this time traveling halfway around the world to Mugwomp Flats to save the lad.

Be sure to arrive at the theater on time. This film's spectacular opening sequence is animation at its most monumental, a ride as thrilling as any roller coaster. After that, the Disney feature settles into a rather middling story with merely standard visuals.

The voices are well cast. Bob Newhart and Eva (the Benign) Gabor have the leads, as they did in the 1977 original. They are joined by a colorful ensemble that includes John Candy, Tristan (General Hospital) Rogers and George C. Scott as the villainous Percival McLcach.

The film nonetheless wouldn't be quite worth the price of admission if it weren't for the fact that it is being shown accompanied by an animated version of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.

It's the first feature in almost a decade for Mickey Mouse, and it presents him with a challenging double role. He's also called upon to warble a tune. The supporting cast includes Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck, who would seem to be no longer regarded as a leading fowl by the Disney organization.

At one point the Prince tells his pauperish proxy that the art of governing can be boiled down to judicious use of two key sentences: "That's a splendid idea; I'm glad I thought of it" and "Guards, seize him!" With minor revisions, that still makes for an effective management strategy.

There is one unexpected heinous aspect to this double feature: It includes a built-in 10-minute intermission during which familiar cartoon characters appear onscreen to shill for the concession stand. That's a commercial cheap shot and unworthy of the Disney tradition. (G)

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