The Rescuers / The Rescuers Down Under: 35th Anniversary [Blu-Ray]

The Rescuers / The Rescuers Down Under: 35th Anniversary [Blu-Ray]
Amidst Disney's history of making veiled political "issue" movies masked with plush, lively animated characters, musical numbers and comic shenanigans, they popped out the surprisingly strong child labour admonitory The Rescuers. Smack-dab in the middle of the disco era, there are a few contextually relevant, but now dated, colourful asides involving fireworks and an overall construct involving nations uniting for an important cause. Positing an ersatz mouse United Nations, the RAS (Rescue Aid Society) tackles the mission of a missing orphan taken by a diamond-smuggling, redheaded, maniacal villain with pet alligators. Substituting for the whole "blood diamond" thing in Africa, the playful, folksy musical numbers and sassy character dynamics between Hungarian Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor) and American Bernard (Bob Newhart) liven up and make entertaining what is ostensibly an exercise in cloying didactics. This is why it's disappointing that the Down Under sequel, which is included on the same Blu-Ray disc in this 35 Anniversary set, mostly eschews their playful flirtations and bickering for a host of new characters and a bland story about a boy kidnapped and taken to Australia. While more colourful for the simpler kids and definitely featuring better sound and picture quality than the original by sheer merit of time (there were 13 years between these films), it's a rather mediocre addition to the Disney lexicon. Regardless, both films were cleaned up and enriched with colour for this release and neither is negatively affected by shared disc space. The supplements included with the package are weaker than usual and don't address the legacy of the films or contextualize the rareness of Disney releasing a theatrical sequel to one of their films, but are fair for what they are. A deleted song ("Peoplitis") is included with storyboard animations to accompany it, as well as a sing-along track and a brief vintage "making of" for Down Under. There's also an extended half-hour documentary about the albatross, positioning it as an inspiration for the character of Wilbur. (Buena Vista)