Movie Review: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Title: The Great Mouse Detective
Release Date: July 2, 1986
Director: Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, and John Musker
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Feature Animation | Silver Screen Partners II

Adapted from Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus, itself a pastiche on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, The Great Mouse Detective is a classic mystery in Victorian London starring mice and rats. There’s the great detective, Basil (Barrie Ingham), his new acquaintance-cum-sidekick, Major Dr. David Q. Dawson (Val Bettin), coming together to help an adorable young Scottish mouse, Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek).  Her father, the toymaker Hiram Flaversham (Alan Young), is abducted by the evil Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price, who steals the movie as well) and forced to work on his evil plan.

The movie is delightful with a lot of imagination and Rube Goldberg devices. I can’t help but wonder what this movie would’ve been like if it had been made a couple of years later in the Disney Renaissance era and given the tender-loving care it deserved.  New Disney CEO Michael Eisner cut the films budget and sped up the release date.  He also renamed the movie because he thought “Basil” sounds too British. Disney animators famously circulated a memo illustrating the bland and generic nature of the new title by renaming Walt Disney animated classics.  It may be past time for a Basil of Baker Street movie reboot (but not a “live action” version please!)

Rating: ***

Book Review: Ben and Me by Robert Lawson

Author:  Robert Lawson
TitleBen and Me
Publication Info: Boston, Mass. : Little, Brown, c1939.

I remember this story from when I was a kid, although I think I only saw the movie which I recall being less acerbic.  The basic gist is the same, Ben Franklin’s career as inventor, scientist, politician, and ambassador is aided by his friendship with a wise mouse named Amos.  Turns out that seemingly every leader of the Revolution and in the French court has a mouse giving advice.  There is a lot of absurdity and fun wordplay that gives this book its humor while still offering an accessible view into the life of Franklin for young readers.  I read it aloud to my son and he really enjoyed it.
Rating: ***