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Dan's DVD/Blu-ray Review: The Great Mouse Detective

Elementary...as mice.
The Great Mouse Detective (Disney)

Rated G.

Starring (voices of) Vincent Price, Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin, Susanne Pollatschek, Candy Candido, Diana Chesney, Eve Brenner, Alan Young.

Written by Peter Young, Vance Gerry, Steve Hulett, Ron Clements, John Musker, Bruce Morris, Matthew O'Callaghan, Burny Mattinson, David Michener, Melvin Shaw, based on the children's book "Basil Of Baker Street" by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone.

Directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, David Michener and John Musker.

GRADE: B+

DVD/Blu-ray REVIEW:


Pixar spoiled us with all their computer-animated whistles and bells in 1995 with Toy Story. Almost a decade earlier, Disney gave everyone a preview of what computers can do for animation with the 1986 release of The Great Mouse Detective, recently out on DVD and Blu-ray.

The story centers on the mouse culture surrounding Sherlock Holmes and a mouse detective living underneath the famous Baker Street address. Barrie Ingham voices Basil, the uber-smart mouse detective whose sidekick Dawson (Val Bettin) helps him solve crimes.

When little Olivia Flaversham approaches Dawson for help in finding her kidnapped toy maker dad, Basil resists at first, but changes his mind when he discovers that his long-time rival Ratigan (Vincent Price) is behind the caper. Basil and Dawson soon discover that Ratigan is plotting to make Olivia's dad construct a robot version of the Queen Mouse in an attempt to take over the British mouse kingdom.

Basil and Dawson race to stop Ratigan's plot and save Olivia, who is also kidnapped during their investigation.

The Great Mouse Detective is a fine children's film, full of adequate laughs and adventure to keep kids and adults entertained, although it is not quite as good as other Disney classics. While some of the animating directors went on to bigger, better films (The Princess and the Frog), this animated film ought to be remembered as one of the first to incorporate computers for the ending scene inside Big Ben. While the rendering of the backgrounds was done mechanically, the process outlines were created by computer, something on the cutting edge in 1986.

DVD/Blu-ray Extras:

The featurette "So You Think You Can Sleuth?" is a cute look at detectives in history over the years and is slightly informative.

The original short documentary on the making of The Great Mouse Detective released in 1986 (assumed for the Disney Channel of the day) is also interesting, and shows off the computerized processes that were pretty much unheard of up to that point in major feature animated films. The documentary also shows us a younger Melissa Manchester (who voices a pub singer) and the great Vincent Price, with his signature creepy voice talents.

There is also a lame inclusion of a sing-along for "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind" sung by Vincent Price, and obviously produced for one of many VHS cassettes released in the 1990s.


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