"The Rescuers Down Under" is an odd entry in the Disney Canon. It was made during the Disney Renaissance but feels like a cheap transitional piece between "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast." The film had a lot of potential and Disney missed the boat. The writers already had the well-developed characters of Bernard and Bianca from 1977's "The Rescuers," the Australian outback setting was well-suited for an epic journey, and the setting also provided the animators with an opportunity to showcase never-before animated animals. Instead, the main characters don't do much (perhaps the story would have been better without them?), the setting isn’t really utilized (the film really could have taken place anywhere), and there is less than 5 minutes of screen time for the koala and kangaroos. The story screams "direct-to-video Disney sequel" as it is a total copycat of the bad-guy-forcing-a-kid-to-help-him-do-something-illegal plot from its 1977 predecessor. Even though the animation is consistent with the impressive Disney Renaissance style, the story is a disappointment compared to other films from this time period. The film boasts the voice acting talents of George C. Scott, Eva Gabor, Bob Newhart, and John Candy, but that is a moot point with a weak story and script. It is not surprising that this film underperformed at the box office and perhaps this was Disney’s wake-up call to include musical sequences and singing characters in the highly successful films that followed this one for the next 9 years. Note that the Disney Renaissance came to a close when the studio strayed away from musicals, and also note the comeback that occurred when “Tangled’ and “Frozen” hit the scene. Too much of this film is wasted on Frank, who may be the most annoying animated character I've ever seen. He is like the reincarnation of Gurgi from "The Black Cauldron." Goanna is equally annoying. But the most annoying thing is that the film introduces characters and then they never appear again. This includes the Rescue Aid Society members, all of the animals at McLeach’s ranch, the hospital mice, Cody’s mom, and the kangaroo that helps Cody at the beginning. Then the film ends with very little resolution. “The Rescuers Down Under” has a few beautiful sequences and impressive animation, but its poor storytelling and disjointedness make it feel like an incomplete direct-to-video sequel.
[Pictured: This film has beautiful visuals but nothing to tie them together]