Tuesday, June 23, 2020
"The Great Mouse Detective" - Disney animated film review
The Disney animated movie that I watched for the first time last week was "The Great Mouse Detective".
Back to movies I knew nothing about ahead of time. Hmmm, Disney movie starring a mouse. It's not Mickey, is it? Nope, not Mickey. Minnie? Yeah, not likely if the mouse is a detective, especially back then.
And two of the four directors credited on this picture are the ones who directed "The Princess and the Frog", the movie I saw last week. How weird is that? Nope, not planned that way.
Awww, little girl mouse named Olivia. She has a British accent but she also had some affectation I couldn't pinpoint. Or maybe it's just that she's young, and youngsters don't pronounce everything the same as adults. And then something terrible happens.. Her dad, Hiram Flaversham the toymaker, is attacked by a bat and then goes missing. Well, this sounds like a case for a detective!
Poor little crying Olivia is found by Dr. Dawson, who just retired from working for the Queen. She tells him what happened, and they go in search of Basil of Baker Street.
Dawson and Olivia arrive at 221 Baker Street and knock on the little door. It looked like the address was 221s, but I couldn't see it clearly enough. The husband is the one who recognized the silhouette upstairs playing the violin as being Sherlock Holmes. The husband also recognized the address as Holmes'. Ahhh, so this is going to be a sort of mouse version of Sherlock Holmes. OK, that makes sense. (I asked the husband, and he said the movie title did not make him presume that this is what it was going to be about. OK, so it's not just me.) So tall, skinny Basil is supposed to be Holmes, and more rotund Dr. Dawson is supposed to be Watson. Got it. (For some reason, I find myself wondering if there's a Muppet version of the Holmes story. In my head, I'm seeing Kermit with Holmes' hat, but I don't know if I've actually seen that picture or if I'm just making it up. Yeah, I know, I can look it up, but I'm just musing.)
While Basil is not interested in talking to Olivia at first (Did Holmes have an aversion to children?), Dawson convinces him to listen, and Basil is much more interested once he hears about the bat that attacked Flaversham. (I noticed that Basil is left-handed. Was Holmes left-handed?) Basil says it must have been Fidget, the bat with a peg leg. Bat with a peg leg. Didn't see that coming. Someone needs to cosplay that at D23 Expo next year.
Basil goes on to say that Fidget works for Professor Ratigan, Basil's archenemy, who Basil has been after for quite some time. Ratigan had Fidget (every time I type his name, I want to type "Figment" - mash-up cosplay?) kidnap Flaversham because Ratigan wants him to work on a secret project for Ratigan, some kind of robot thing. Ratigan wants to be supreme leader of all mousedom. I liked that title. Ratigan can put that on a business card:
Supreme Leader of
And Ratigan sings! I did not expect that. And we find out that Ratigan has one trigger point. He hates being referred to as a rat, even though that's what he is, and even though his minion mice refer to him as a big mouse. (BTW, what was up with the ONE lizard minion amongst them?) The drunken mouse who refers to him as a rat has serious consequences - Ratigan feeds him to Felicia, his ginormous cat. OK, now that I think about it, Felicia isn't really ginormous. She just looks ginormous in relative size to Ratigan and the mice. Speaking of looks, Felicia seemed like a cross between Lucifer from "Cinderella" and Marie from "The Aristocats".
Meanwhile, Basil has figured out where they need to go, and he takes Dawson and Olivia upstairs to meet Toby the bassett hound, who I'm guessing is supposed to be Holmes' dog. (Did Holmes have a dog? Have you gotten the idea yet that I kept wondering if the info about Holmes was "true"?)
I don't remember now who was offering them cheese crumpets, but Olivia seemed to really like those, and when she was stuffing them in her pockets, it reminded me of Meeko the raccoon from "Pocahontas" when John Smith was dropping biscuits.
Basil brought Toby to sniff out Fidget. Meanwhile, Basil instructs Dawson to keep an eye on Olivia, but like not-Peter-Pan in "The Black Cauldron" with Piggie, Dawson has one job and fails, as Olivia is lured away by a toy Dumbo (!) that blows bubbles. A giant fight ensues because Fidget has a laundry list of "honey-dos" from Ratigan, and next on the list is to kidnap Olivia, and toys are attacking Basil and Dawson as they try to get to Olivia. At one point, this giant doll (again, probably not giant, just in perspective in relation to the mice) crashes down, and she reminded me of Gabby Gabby from "Toy Story 4".
Fidget escapes with Olivia and brings her to Ratigan, who instructs him to put Olivia in a bottle as a prison. Fidget puts a cork in the opening, and I'm thinking, she's gonna suffocate! Fidget makes the mistake of telling Ratigan that Basil was trying to intercept Olivia, and Ratigan gets so mad that he tries to feed Fidget to Felicia, but it doesn't take, and Felicia is cheated of a snack. Ratigan allows Flaversham to see Olivia, but the reunion is short-lived because Ratigan is using Olivia as leverage to get a defiant Flaversham to continue the work that Ratigan wants him to do. Flaversham complies.
Dawson finds the honey-do list that Fidget dropped, and Basil figures out that it belonged to Fidget and tries to figure out where Ratigan's hideout is. As Basil is inspecting and tasting the list and talking about the composition of the paper, I was totally thinking of Goren from "Law and Order: Criminal Intent". Goren, I mean, Basil figures out that the note has come from the docks, so he and Dawson head there and wander into a pub, dressed with disguises. Dawson looked to me like Smee from "Peter Pan", though his colors weren't the same.
They sit and the Moulin-Rouge-esque show starts, with Miss Kitty Mouse doing her show-stopping song. The hardened pub patrons melt at the sound of her voice. I thought she was dressed much more risque, with feathers and a garter, than I normally expect from Disney films.
Musical interlude over, Basil and Dawson follow Fidget to Ratigan's lair, which looks like it's inside a beer keg. But it turns out that they've walked into a trap, as they are greeted by a banner and confetti (Disney confetti usually means the show is over, but not in this case.) to welcome them.
I forget what happens at this point, but eventually, we find out that it's the Queen's jubilee, celebrating her 60 years of queendom. (I had started to realize that things in this film were a lot like in "The Rescuers", where there are mouse equivalents to their human counterparts.)
We then find out what dad was working on - a robot of the Queen, kind of like a Stepford version. The plan is for Stepford Queen to take the real queen's place, and then Ratigan is announced as the Queen's consort, and now, Ratigan is in charge. (Fidget wearing Mary Poppins' hat!)
But, here comes the cavalry. Toby arrives to chase after Felicia as she was menacing Basil. (And with seeing Felicia in proportion with Toby, Felicia is indeed a big cat, but she's not ginormous.) Basil liberates Flaversham (even though Basil can't pronounce that name to save his life, which is a running joke throughout the film as he's talking to Olivia) from Ratigan's minions, and Flaversham makes Stepford Queen turn on Ratigan and announce all of Ratigan's dastardly misdeeds, and then Stepford Queen destructs in the time-honored tradition of Stepford women.
It's not over yet though, as Ratigan makes off with Olivia again, and a blimp / balloon chase ensues high over London. Chase, chase, other stuff happened, they crashed into Big Ben (neither Peter Pan nor not-Peter-Pan were standing on the hands of the clock face), they save Olivia and Basil does not in fact plunge to his doom but ends up pedaling himself to safety. (As he was falling, the husband called that.) I don't remember what happened to Ratigan. I think Fidget found a female bat? I can't remember that either.
I enjoyed the film but likely won't see it again as I'm not really into the Holmes thing. I don't know if a Holmes fan would like or hate this film. (Even though I'm not into Holmes, I did enjoy the film "Young Sherlock Holmes", though I heard that lots of Holmes fans hated it because it didn't stick to canon. Pretty sure they weren't trying to be canon, but hey, not my fight.) I liked Olivia. Fidget reminded me of Bartok from "Anastasia".
Vincent Price as Ratigan was a riot to listen to. I so wanted to see the footage of him in the recording studio. You could see him chewing the scenery even though you couldn't see him! And he even did his own singing. Actual singing, not just reciting, like he did for "Thriller".
While I thought Miss Kitty Mouse was just ok, I did really like her song, and I thought whomever sang it was fantastic. And then I found out that it was sung by Melissa Manchester, who I like. Well, of course, I liked her song.
I don't know if the name Basil was simply taken from the book which was the inspiration for this movie, or because it was in honor of Basil Rathbone, who was famous for playing Sherlock Holmes in films. Or maybe the book picked that name to honor him. In any case, I choose to believe that they were paying tribute to Rathbone because that would be cool.