The Rescuers Down Under is an American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and first released by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution on November 16, 1990. The twenty-ninth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, the film is the sequel (Disney's second for an animated feature) to the 1977 animated classic The Rescuers, which was based on the novels of Margery Sharp. This film, The Three Caballeros, Winnie the Pooh and Fantasia 2000 are the only Disney sequels that are part of the Disney canon, as they were produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation. The film takes place in the Australian Outback, and belongs to the era known as the Disney Renaissance (1989-1999), which began with The Little Mermaid the year before this sequel was released. It was also the second Disney sequel to have been shown in theaters.
The film is known as Bernard and Bianca in the Land of the Kangaroos in countries where the phrase "Down Under" is not as well known or is deemed as offensive. It also became the first fully digital feature film for Disney and the world.
Another Rescuers movie was planned for 1996, but after the deaths of Eva Gabor and John Candy, this and all future Rescuers movies were scrapped. Also, the financial failure of the film discouraged The Walt Disney Company from releasing later sequels theatrically.
In the Australian Outback, a young boy named Cody is told by his friend, a kangaroo called Faloo, about a trapped Great Golden Eagle called Marahute, who is trapped on top of a cliff and that he is the only one who can set her free. After climbing the cliff, Cody rescues the eagle by cutting her bounds. In the process, he is accidentally knocked off the cliff but Marahute swoops down and catches him on her back just before he hits the ground. Befriending Marahute, Cody is taken on a ride through the air before been taken to her nest, where he is shown her three eggs that are close to hatching, and given a feather by her as a thank you for freeing her. Later, the boy is captured in a trap by wanted local poacher McLeach. When McLeach finds one of the eagle's feathers in the boy's backpack he is instantly overcome with excitement, for he knows that to capture such a grandiose bird would make him rich. McLeach kidnaps the boy and attempts to force out of him the whereabouts of the rare eagle.
Meanwhile, a message is sent to New York to the Rescue Aid Society headquarters, and Bernard and Bianca, the RAS' elite field agents, are assigned to the mission, interrupting Bernard's attempt to propose marriage to Bianca. They go to find Orville, the albatross who aided them previously, but instead find Wilbur, Orville's brother. Bernard and Bianca convince Wilbur to fly them to Australia to save Cody. In Australia, they meet Jake, a kangaroo rat who is the RAS' local regional operative. Jake later flirts with Bianca, much to Bernard's chagrin. He serves as their guide and protector in search of the boy. Wilbur is immobilized when his spinal column is bent out of its natural shape, convincing Jake to consign him to hospital.
When he refuses to undergo surgery and instead attempts to flee, Wilbur's back is unintentionally straightened by the efforts of the mouse medical staff to prevent him escaping through a window. Cured, he departs in search of his friends. At McLeach's ranch, Cody has been thrown into a cage with several of McLeach's captured animals after refusing to give up Marahute's whereabouts. Cody tries to free the animals, but is thwarted by Joanna, McLeach's pet goanna. McLeach ultimately tells Cody that someone else has shot Marahute, tricking Cody into leading him to Marahute's nest.
Bernard, Bianca, and Jake, half-aware of what is happening, jump onto McLeach's Halftrack to follow him. At Marahute's nest, the three mice try to warn Cody that he has been followed; just as they do, McLeach arrives and captures Cody, along with Marahute, Jake, and Bianca. Wilbur arrives at the nest, whereupon Bernard convinces him to sit on the eagle's eggs, which Bernard had saved from Joanna moments before. McLeach takes Cody and Marahute to Crocodile Falls, where he ties Cody up and hangs him over the eponymous crocodiles. Bernard, riding a type of wild pig called a "razorback", which he had tamed using a horse whispering technique earlier used by Jake, follows and disables McLeach's vehicle, preventing the use of its crane to put Cody at risk. McLeach then tries to shoot the rope holding Cody above the water. To save Cody, Bernard tricks Joanna into crashing into McLeach, sending them both into the water. The crocodiles chase McLeach, while behind them the damaged rope holding Cody breaks apart. Although McLeach manages to fight off the crocodiles, only Joanna reaches the shoreline while McLeach goes over a much larger waterfall to his death.
Bernard dives into the water to save Cody, but fails. Jake and Bianca free Marahute in time for her to retrieve Cody and Bernard. Bernard, desperate to avoid any further incidents, proposes to marry Bianca, who accepts eagerly while Jake salutes him with a newfound respect. All of them depart for Cody's home. Wilbur, whom they have neglected to relieve of his task, incubates the eggs until they hatch, much to his dismay.
The Rescuers Down Under is notable for Disney as its first traditionally-animated film to completely use the new computerized CAPS process. CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) was a computer-based production system developed by Pixar that was used for digital ink and paint and compositing. This allowed for a more efficient and sophisticated post-production of the Disney animated films and making the traditional practice of hand-painting cels obsolete. The animators' drawings and the background paintings were scanned into a computer, where the animation drawings are inked and painted by digital artists, and later combined with the scanned backgrounds in software that allows for camera positioning, camera movements, multiplane effects, and other techniques.
As a result, The Rescuers Down Under was the first feature film for which the entire final film elements were assembled and completed within a digital environment. However, the film's marketing approach did not call attention to the use of the CAPS process. It is Disney's second animated feature that does not include any musical numbers, the first being Disney's The Black Cauldron. The film also uses CGI elements throughout such as the field of flowers in the opening sequence, McLeach's truck, and perspective shots of Wilbur flying above Sydney Opera House and New York City.
A team of over 415 artists and technicians were required for the production of the film. Five members of the team traveled to the Australian Outback to observe, take photographs and draw sketches to properly illustrate the outback on film.
On its initial release, The Rescuers Down Under was preceded by a short subject starring Mickey Mouse in an adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper. This was the second new Mickey Mouse short made since the 1950s, the first having been Mickey's Christmas Carol, which accompanied the 1983 re-release of The Rescuers.
The Rescuers Down Under features three characters from the first film: Bianca, Bernard, and the Chairmouse.
- Bernard, voiced by Bob Newhart, is a male mouse and the United States representative of the Rescue Aid Society. He is the male protagonist of the film.
- Miss Bianca, voiced by Eva Gabor, is a female mouse and the Hungarian representative of the Rescue Aid Society. She is the female protagonist of the film. This was Gabor's final role before her retirement and death in 1995.
- Wilbur, voiced by John Candy, is a comical albatross, named after Wilbur Wright. He is the brother of Orville, the albatross who appeared in the first film.
- Cody, voiced by Adam Ryen, is a young boy able to converse with most animals, who is implied to be a recurrent ally of theirs. He is the deuteragonist and false protagonist of the film.
- Marahute, voiced by Frank Welker, is a giant golden eagle.
- Percival C. McLeach, voiced by George C. Scott, is a sadistic poacher and the main antagonist of the film.
- Joanna, voiced by Frank Welker, is a Spencer's Goanna and McLeach's pet, who acts to terrify his captives. She is the secondary antagonist of the film.
- Jake, voiced by Tristan Rogers, is a debonair, charismatic, friendly kangaroo rat. He is the tritagonist of the film.
- Red, voiced by Peter Firth, is a male kangaroo captured by McLeach. It is unknown if he is saved or not.
- Frank, voiced by Wayne Robson, is an erratic frill-necked lizard captured by McLeach. It is unknown if he is saved or not, but the film's happy ending suggests the former.
- Krebbs, voiced by Douglas Seale, is a koala captured by McLeach. It is unknown if he is saved or not.
- Polly, is a platypus captured by McLeach. It is unknown if he is saved or not.
- Faloo, voiced by Carla Meyer, is a female kangaroo, who summons Cody to save Marahute.
- Chairmouse, voiced by Bernard Fox, is the chairman of the Rescue Aid Society.
- Doctor Mouse, voiced by Bernard Fox, is the supervisor of the surgical mice who examine Wilbur when he is injured.
- Nurse Mouse, voiced by Russi Taylor, is the operator of Doctor Mouse's instructions and a competent second-in-command.
- Nelson, an echidna.
The Rescuers Down Under was released in the Walt Disney Classics video series in 1991 on VHS like The Rescuers. However, unlike The Rescuers, the film did not make it to the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. It was released on DVD on August 1, 2000 as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection. A DVD/Blu-ray combo pack of the film with The Rescuers was released as a 2-Movie Collection on August 21, 2012.
The film received a mostly positive response. On Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of the critics reviews were positive. But despite the critical acclaim, the film underperformed at the box-office, grossing only $47 million, making it the least successful box-office performance of any major release of the Disney Renaissance era.
- Main Title
- Answering Faloo's Call
- Cody's Flight
- Message Montage
- At the Restaurant
- Wilbur Takes Off
- McLeach Threatens Cody
- The Landing
- Bernard Almost Proposes
- Escape Attempt
- Frank's Out!
- Cody Finds the Eggs
- Bernard the Hero
- End Credits
- The Rescuers Down Under is the only sequel to be released during the Disney Renaissance.
- On the Disney Junior broadcast, the scene in which Percival C. McLeach asks Cody (The Rescuers Down Under) if Marahute was hiding at either Satan's Ridge or Nightmare Canyon was omitted due to the aforementioned location's name.
- ↑ Smith, Dave (1996). Disney A-Z: The Official Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion, 414. ISBN 0-7868-6223-8.
- ↑ (2007) "The Rescuers Down Under", in Gritten, David: Halliwell's Film Guide 2008. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins Publishers, 986. ISBN 0-00-726080-6.
Characters: Bernard | Miss Bianca | Chairmouse | Louis (deleted) | Rufus | Penny | Penny's Teddy Bear | Cruella De Vil (deleted) | Madame Medusa | Mr. Snoops | Orville | Brutus and Nero | Ellie Mae | Luke | Evinrude | Deadeye | Digger | Gramps | Deacon Owl | Bats | The Orphans | Penny's Adoptive Parents | Jake | Cody | Cody's Mother | Faloo | Marahute | Percival McLeach | Joanna | Sparky | Wilbur | Frank | Krebbs | Red | Baitmouse | The Razorback | Twister | Crocodiles
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