Released in 1986, Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective has long been overshadowed by more recent animated features from that studio. It doesn’t have the catchy tunes or the flashy graphics of The Little Mermaid or The Lion King, but it’s an entertaining movie that kids and adults can enjoy.
The Mouse of the Baskervilles
- Behind-the-scenes documentary
- Two classic Disney animated shorts
- Singalong feature for one song
- Scrapbook of drawings and photos of the cast and animators
- French and Spanish language tracks
- English captions for the hearing-impaired
The Great Mouse Detective, which is based on a book by Eve Titus, takes place in Victorian England, where mice and other rodents have their own society parallel to the humans.
The story opens with Mr. Flaversham, a toymaker, being kidnapped by a peg-legged bat. Flaversham’s young daughter Olivia sets off to get help from Basil of Baker Street, the Great Mouse Detective himself. With help from the rotund Dr. Dawson (“just back from military service in Afghanistan”), they find Basil’s cozy hole, which happens to be beneath the flat of a certain famous human detective.
Basil quickly deduces that Olivia’s father is in the hands of Basil’s nemesis Ratigan, “the Napoleon of crime,” who needs the toymaker’s mechanical expertise to carry out a nefarious plot.
Elementary, My Dear DawsonWhat follows is typical of Disney animated fare. The hero, his two wacky sidekicks, and the girl have adventures and get into danger. The flamboyant villain (perfectly voiced by Vincent Price) and his goofy henchman are fun to watch and perform the movie’s most memorable song.
Kids should enjoy The Great Mouse Detective (although the movie has some scary moments that may be inappropriate for very young children), and adults will find it a pleasant diversion. It may not have the look of The Little Mermaid and its successors, but there’s nothing wrong with the movie.
The picture and sound should meet the standards of any home theater. The DVD has both French and Spanish language tracks and English captions. The disc also contains two classic Disney animated shorts: Clock Cleaners and Donald’s Crime. If memory serves, Clock Cleaners was shown with the movie when it was had its original theatrical run.
The disc includes a promotional 20-minute behind-the-scenes documentary which consists mostly of interviews with the cast and animators. The most interesting fact it presents is that The Great Mouse Detective holds the distinction of being the first Disney animated feature to use computer graphics. It’s in the climactic chase scene inside of Big Ben. The documentary gives a brief explanation of how the animation was done and then blended with the traditional cel animation used for the characters
A scrapbook on the disc includes preliminary paintings of backgrounds and sketches of the characters as well as photos of the animators and actors. The art should be interesting to anyone curious about the animation process.
Another feature is a sing-along for “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind,” a song in praise of Ratigan. Highlighting this feature on the menu plays the scene with the words and bouncing ball at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, this can only be viewed separately from the rest of the movie. It would have made more sense to have the option of integrating the singalong into the movie.