The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 8/15/10
Music: Henry Mancini
Cast: Barrie Ingham, Vincent Price, Alan Young

A bit of a misfire from Disney's "dark years," prior to their triumphant return to form with "The Little Mermaid" (1989). It also served as a precursor to the delightful "Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers" TV series (1989). My primary interest in the film was that it was the first Disney film to utilize Amiga computers for some of its effects animation. But technical details aside, the story concerns a certain mouse detective in London known as Basil of Baker Street (Barrie Ingham). He's the mouse equivalent of Sherlock Holmes, and in fact lives in the same flat. Basil's mortal enemy, Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price), has kidnapped a toy maker named Flaversham (Alan Young), and Flaversham's daughter Olivia comes to Basil for help. With the aid of a bumbling Doctor Dawson, The three of them set out to save Flaversham and put Ratigan's plans for world conquest out of commission.

The animation quality is quite good and the voice acting is excellent, but the film never seems to gel. Much like "The Black Cauldron" (1985), the content is more mature and adult oriented, which may alienate younger viewers and at the same time be too juvenile for older viewers to take seriously. It also clearly targets the young boy demographic, which even now continues to elude Disney. There are only 2-3 musical numbers, and they're mostly forgettable. Barrie Ingham's Basil is delightfully twitchy and condescending, perfectly channeling Sherlock Holmes' eccentricities. Olivia makes a charming heroine and Vincent Price is superb as a maniacal evil genius. Overall, a disappointment, but still a perfectly fine piece of entertainment.