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20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘The Rescuers Down Under’

The Rescuers Down Under, Disney’s 29th feature film, was a first for a few things.

Read: 20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘The Little Mermaid’

To begin with, it was the first animated sequel Disney had ever done. The Rescuers Down Under acts as a sequel to The Rescuers, a movie released 13 years earlier in 1977. Although Disney had done a thematic sequel (The Three Cabarellos), never before had they done a direct story sequel. Though sequels to Disney animated movies would become commonplace in the near future thanks to DisneyToon Studios, this was somewhat of a box office risk in 1990.

In addition, it was also a first for using the CAPs system to animate the entire film. CAPS stands for Computer Animation Production System and was an early computer animation platform designed by Pixar. This system was used in the 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s to animate their films in a more efficient manner, replacing the traditional ink and paint method of animating films. With CAPS, the entire movie could be made on a computer. Naturally, this was a huge deal at the time and gives The Rescuers Down Under a distinct historical significance that sets it apart from other Disney movies from this era. For an in-depth historical study of this film, look no further than Drew Taylor’s excellent piece here.

One of my favorite things about The Rescuers Down Under is the familiarity we already have with the characters. Of course, one could make this argument with almost every sequel ever made, but seeing the return of the Rescue Aid Society and going on adventures with Bernard and Bianca again (with the same voice actors to boot), really does make this an enjoyable ride. John Candy also does some fabulous voice work here as the albatross Wilbur, brother of Orville, who appeared in the first movie. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention George C. Scott, who was a wonderful actor, as the voice of the villain McLeach.

Because it is sandwiched between The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, it is often a lost treasure among the films of the Disney renaissance. However, I encourage those who haven’t seen it, particularly fans of the first Rescuers, to check it out.

Live-action remake: There is currently plans for a live-action remake for The Rescuers or The Rescuers Down Under.

The Rescuers Down Under in the theme parks: Unfortunately, neither The Rescuers nor its sequel is featured in any of the theme parks.

The Rescuers Down Under is available to stream on Disney+.

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