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Toon Talk: The Rescuers DVD
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
June 25, 2003
Kirby reviews the recent DVD release of The Rescuers.

Toon Talk
Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt

(c) Disney
The Rescuers DVD
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ean at the beginning of the film, finally, after weeks of unexplained delays, The Rescuers DVD is now here.

Alas, Disney Home Video should have taken the opportunity to spend a little more time on this dismally disappointing release. Talk about misleading advertising: touted as a “snappy new remastering? on the packaging, the transfer of the film is as murky as the film’s swampy Devil’s Bayou setting - its like watching the movie through a pair of Madame Medusa’s stockings. And while at least it is presented in wide screen, the disappointments don’t end with the main feature…

Even worse is the ghastly, washed out, grainy print of Water Birds, the classic 1952 Oscar-winning True Life Adventure included in the sparse selection of bonus materials. Put it this way: a 16mm projection of this short on a dirty bed-sheet hanging from a gym wall in a sixth grade Phys Ed class would look better. DHV should be ashamed for including here such a degraded print. (And let us pray that they are working overtime to clean up the TLAs for that future Walt Disney Treasures set that has been rumored.)

Such mishandling of this, admittedly, ‘minor’ Disney classic (still, arguably the best of the animated output of the Studio in the 1970s) is perplexing, as The Rescuers in its time was quite a success, holding its own at the box office opposite such blockbusters as Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was also the first animated feature to produce a sequel, The Rescuers Down Under.

While this off-handed DVD treatment may not have been that surprising with such lesser works as The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver and Company (as seen in their DVD debuts last year), The Rescuers deserved better, for it marked the beginning of the ‘changing of the guard’ at Disney Feature Animation, bringing the seasoned legends (Ollie Johnson, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl) and the talented newcomers (John Pomeroy, Ron Clements, Glen Keane) together for the first time. Surely this historical significance could have been recognized here in some way, as well as such intriguing behind-the-scenes stories as the film’s original villain (101 Dalmatians' Cruella de Vil was to return) and the real-life inspiration for Mr. Snoops (producer Joel Silver, later seen as director Raoul J. Raoul in Who Framed Roger Rabbit).

Instead, the bonus material consists mainly of fluff (another lame DVD game; a leftover Toon Disney commercial … yes, commercial) and filler (The Three Blind Mousketeers Silly Symphony animated short; a “Someone’s Waiting for You? Sing Along Song), with only the sorely lacking The Rescuers Scrapbook even hinting at what could have been included in this set (for example: one single character sketch of Cruella, complete with crocodile coat). They could have at least included Disney’s Greatest Villains, the Hans Conried-hosted clip show from The Wonderful World of Disney, circa the film’s original release, which devoted a large section to that mad Madame Medusa.

When news comes along that such trifles as Return from Witch Mountain and The Lizzie McGuire Movie will be released as feature-packed ‘Special Edition’ DVDs in lieu of such actual classics as The Rescuers (not to mention a lot of other titles I could mention), one begs to ask the question of Disney Home Video: where are your priorities?

Toon Talk Rating: C+

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