More is less in 'The Rescuers Down Under'


November 16, 1990|By Lou Cedrone

'The Rescuers,'' released in 1977, was of the Disney Studios' more amusing films, a feature-length cartoon that was as clever as it was brief.

The sequel, ''The Rescuers Down Under,'' is a bit longer and not quite so clever.

Not that the kids mind. Children, all ages, seemed to enjoy an advance screening and said so. They said they didn't mind the fact that the sequel is a little more exasperating than the original film. They also didn't seem to mind the fact that it is just a mite more mean-spirited.

Well, 13 years bring change, and if the horseplay that goes on in this film is a bit prolonged, not everyone, apparently, is going to object.

The original film featured the voices of Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor and Geraldine Page. Newhart and Gabor return for the second film, but the late Miss Page, whose Madame Medusa was one of the most memorable Disney heavies, has been replaced by George C. Scott, who speaks for a character who looks like Scott. Well, if you're going to use that voice, you might as well have a face that matches it.

Scott is a poacher in Australia, and when a little boy finds a rare eagle nesting with three eggs, the poacher hopes to use the boy to find that eagle and those eggs.

Enter Bernard and Miss Bianca, members of the International Rescuers' Society, an all-mouse organization. Miss Bianca (voice by Gabor) represents Hungary, and Bernard (voice by Newhart) is the United States representative.

They want to get to Australia in a hurry, so they fly by albatross, an airline comprising one big bird whose voice is supplied by John Candy.

The cartooning is stunning at times, and much of the new ''Rescuers'' is fun. However, some of the suspense situations are simply overdone. Most Disney cartoons are 75 minutes long. This one is 90 minutes. A snip or two wouldn't have hurt.

Also showing with ''The Rescuers Down Under'' is a 25-minute featurette, the first the Disney people have done in 10 years. It is a Mickey Mouse version of Mark Twain's ''The Prince and the Pauper,'' and you can say this much about it -- it's quick and is a very nice way to introduce children to a classic tale.

The Disney people have allowed a 10-minute intermission between the featurette and the feature. As the kids hustle off to the restrooms and the concession stands, a dial, with minute hand, shows the audience how much time they have left, minute by minute. There is always something new.

''The Rescuers Down Under''

** Members of the Rescuers Society help a boy who is being pursued by a poacher in Australia.

VOICES: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, George C. Scott, John Candy

DIRECTION: Michael Gabriel, Hendel Butoy


RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

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