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The Rescuers Down Under DVD Review

The Rescuers Down Under movie poster The Rescuers Down Under

Theatrical Release: November 16, 1990 / Running Time: 77 Minutes / Rating: G

Directors: Hendel Butoy, Mike Gabriel

Voice Cast: Bob Newhart (Bernard), Eva Gabor (Miss Bianca), John Candy (Wilbur), Tristan Rogers (Jake), Adam Ryen (Cody), George C. Scott (Percival C. McLeach), Wayne Robson (Frank), Douglas Seale (Krebbs), Frank Welker (Joanna the Lizard), Bernard Fox (Chairmouse/Doctor), Ed Gilbert (Francois)

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Review by Jack Seiley

Intended as an easy, low-cost production, The Rescuers Down Under may seem out of place on Disney's official list of animated classics. This film, the studio's first animated sequel, continues the adventures of Bernard and Bianca, the mice members of the Rescue Aid Society, originally introduced in 1977's The Rescuers.

This time, we reunite with the two rodents right when Bernard is about to propose to Bianca.
The moment is interrupted when they are sent on an urgent mission to Australia to rescue a boy named Cody, a kid who spends his days helping local animals in need. He is kidnapped by McLeach, a ruthless poacher who seeks to learn the location of a rare eagle called Marahute, so he can capture it and become filthy rich. In their mission, Bernard and Bianca are joined by yet another albatross, Wilbur, and outback-savvy kangaroo-mouse Jake (who unknowingly pines after Bianca throughout the journey).

While the first Rescuers came off mostly as a detective story, Down Under is much more an adventure movie. In fact, there's no clues to follow or mysteries to solve: the goal is just to brave the Australian wilderness to rescue Cody and Marahute. Since the story is fairly simple, there's a bit of filler material throughout. It takes quite a while to get to the actual rescuing, and a few unrelated gags and misadventures are thrown in the middle.

Cody makes a feathered friend

While fans of the original film may consider this to be a letdown, I feel Down Under, despite its imperfections, is a superior sequel. It's much more cinematic and energetic than the first, which I felt was pretty lackadaisical. There are some ridiculous elements, such as little Cody climbing a mile-high sheer rock face or riding on the back of a soaring eagle. Yet, while fanciful, it allows this sequel to boast some exhilarating animation, cinematography, and camerawork, set to the tremendous score of Bruce Broughton. Besides the adventurous journey through the outback, the little 'love triangle' with Bianca, Jake, and Bernard (who continually seeks for a moment to propose) makes for some amusing character interaction.

All in all, The Rescuers Down Under is a very fun experience, and one that I think is quite underrated. It seems most that aren't die-hard Disney fans have forgotten about this one. While its reputation is underwhelming, I would highly recommend the movie to pretty much anyone.

The film debuted on DVD August 1, 2000 as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic collection. The single disc is held in a standard white amaray case. Aside from a 1-page insert that has a chapter listing and highlights of bonus materials, an “Animals of the Outback” booklet is supposed to be included, as listed on the back of the case. This 10-page brochure has information on animals, plus a maze and a coloring page, in addition to some ads for other Disney flicks. While fun for kids, it will most likely not be found in recent copies, as it was exclusively manufactured close to the release date.

Buy The Rescuers Down Under from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 4.0 (English)
Dolby 2.0 Surround (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: August 1, 2000
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $29.99)
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Positively, the picture is properly presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. My expectations for image quality were entirely met. On the upside, the colors look well reproduced, and there are very little print imperfections. On the downside, like several other Gold Collection releases, the transfer is quite grainy. It's not distracting most of the time, but some frames can get severe.

The main choice for audio is a 4.0 Dolby Digital track, available only in English. The rear speakers are pretty much absent throughout. However, the sound provides an involving experience, with deep rich bass. A good sample of how effective the sound can be is the very beginning, which features both the atmospheric sounds of nature and a dramatic score election. Overall, it's a very adequate display of the movie.

Main Menu Trivia Game Read-Along Storybook


As with the video and audio, my expectations were met spot on in the extras department. But in this case, that's not really a positive thing. The Rescuers Down Under doesn't differ from almost every Gold Collection disc in the skimpy provision of extras.

A standard Trivia Game asks 16 questions about plot points and characters from the movie,
with congratulations from someone imitating Jake the kangaroo-mouse's voice every time one is answered correctly (the voice alternates between an Aussie accent and an American one – maybe he suffers from some kind of rare accent disorder.)

Another extra aimed at kids is the virtual Read-Along Storybook, which retells the story from the movie. The viewer can either read to himself, or choose to have a narrator.

Finally, the original Theatrical Trailer (1:47) is included. Isn't it crazy that an essential extra makes an appearance on a catalogue title, but doesn't on Disney's famed Platinum Editions?

The menus are still frames depicting characters from the film with no music. Dated previews play before the menu loads for the Gold Collection in general, and the DVD releases of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, Toy Story 2, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, and The Tigger Movie. These can also be accessed via the "Sneak Peeks" section from the main menu.

Adventure in the Outback! Cody and company find themselves prisoners of McLeach.


One of the few Disney selections I feel is tremendously underrated, The Rescuers Down Under provides a nice continuation of the '70s original while soaring to new heights in energy, adventure, and fun. Since it's not likely to get an upgrade any time soon, and this release is suitable, the Gold Collection disc is recommended – especially now that it has been given a price reduction for summer 2004.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Other Reviews of Interest:
The Rescuers • Oliver & Company • The Fox and the Hound • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Little Mermaid • The Great Mouse Detective • Aladdin • A Goofy Movie • Robin Hood • Bolt
TaleSpin: Volume 1 • Kiki's Delivery Service • The Princess and the Frog • The Emperor's New Groove
"The Prince and the Pauper" on Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2 (shown theatrically with Rescuers Down Under)

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Reviewed June 7, 2004.