The Great Mouse Detective

  • Review Date: April 12, 2010
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 74 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Clever Sherlock Holmes tribute mixes wit, peril.
  • Review Date: April 12, 2010
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 74 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Basil's smarts defeat Ratigan's greedy plans. Self-sacrifice and courage are rewarded in the end, and the villains get their due comeuppance.

Positive role models

Olivia and her father Mr. Flaversham are very dedicated to each other and bravely try to rescue and protect each other. Basil and Dr. Emerson act courageously to stop Ratigan's evil plans from succeeding.

Violence & scariness

An evil rat acts menacingly throughout the movie: He kidnaps a father mouse, threatens him, and then kidnaps his young daughter. A henchman bat can be quite creepy. A cat eats a mouse, and there's a pub fight and final duel between two central characters.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

Benign words like "dastardly" and "fiend."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Rodent characters drink/get tipsy in two scenes -- the first near the beginning of the movie when the bad guys are making their evil plans and the second toward the end (takes place in a bar). The villainous rat smokes a cigar; lead character Basil also smokes. A tipsy Watson ogles a burlesque dancer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Disney tribute to Sherlock Holmes has potentially frightening themes such as kidnapping, blackmail, and world domination. Although it's rated G, it does feature a menacing evil genius who wants to kill the reigning Mouse Queen and uses his creepy henchman bat to commit crimes. There are also a couple of cartoon-violence scenes (a pub brawl and a climactic duel) and notable drinking/smoking scenes. But for young tweens -- especially those interested in detective mysteries -- this should be a fun bet.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE is Disney's tribute to Sherlock Holmes mysteries. In 19th-century London, Mr. Flaversham (voiced by Alan Young), a toy-maker mouse, is suddenly kidnapped, so his faithful daughter Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek) convinces the famous detective Basil of Baker Street (Barrie Ingham), who's aided by a curious Dr. Dawson (Val Bettin), to search for the girl's missing father. Basil quickly deduces that the evil genius Professor Ratigan (the one-and-only Vincent Price), masterminded the kidnapping to further his plans to off the Mouse Queen and install a robot Flaversham creates in her place, thereby ruling all of Britain's mouse population. Basil and Dawson follow the clues around London, even bumping into the real Sherlock Holmes along the way in one memorable scene. At one point Olivia is taken hostage, so Basil and Dawson kick up their efforts to save her, her father, and the Queen before it's too late.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director Ron Clements (who went on to direct Disney favorites The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Princess and the Frog) imbues his mouse tale with a nod to all familiar with Holmes stories. Based on Eve Titus' popular children's book series about a Victorian mouse detective who models himself after Holmes, the movie contains all of the elements of a good mystery: an initial crime, an innocent party in search of help, a series of clues that help Basil and his newfound assistant Dr. Dawson all across London (often on the back of the real Holmes' pet hound Toby) to find where the not-quite-clever-enough villain is hiding. Children, even kindergarteners, will be able to follow the action and learn about the basics of sleuthing and suspense.

The city of London plays as a big a role in the plot as any of the characters, and Clements and company lovingly detail major landmarks such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace -- the big chase scene inside Big Ben is a notable early example of CGI. The animated set design aside, the scenery chewing star of this production is obviously Price, who somehow had never been asked to voice a Disney villain until this 1986 production, just seven years before he died. Price's every word as the dastardly Professor Ratigan is deliciously evil sounding. The unflappable Basil (voiced elegantly by Ingham, a veteran British theater actor), is naturally up to the challenge of confronting and defeating the greedy Ratigan, but it's the tension between the two characters that makes this a treat to watch even for adults.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why stories about detectives solving crimes are so engrossing. Is it because in this case, it's clear who's good and who's evil? How are mysteries with obvious villains and heroes different than mysteries where you don't know who committed the crimes being investigated?

  • What other movies feature an "evil genius" with plans for world domination? Parents, discuss with your kids the significance of legendary actor Vincent Price voicing the mad rat character.

  • For older kids or families familiar with Sherlock Holmes stories: how closely does the plot follow a Holmes mystery? Why are absurdly clever detectives such a popular "type" in crime stories? Did you know the Sherlock Holmes in the movie is voiced by the actor who played him in the classic 1940s films?

  • Roy Disney said this movie was in the "mouse cannon" of Disney films, because the studio was founded on a mouse. What are some other great Disney mice movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 2, 1986
DVD release date:April 13, 2010
Cast:Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin, Vincent Price
Director:Ron Clements
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures
Run time:74 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Great Mouse Detective was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent Written bymean3mommy May 27, 2011
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

Good movie, but sexy mouse a bit much

I have 2 boys, 6 and 8, who watched this movie. I asked them if they thought it was scary, they said it was scary enough to make the movie interesting, but not more than that. I know that some kids are more sensitive to scariness, though, so just be aware. I liked the movie as far as the story and the main characters as role models, but I was a little shocked by the bar scene where a female mouse does a "strip tease" (not all the way) and sings "let me be good to you" - a bit much for little guys in my book!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 4 and 6 year old Written bymcshaz August 16, 2010
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

Too scary!!

Way too scary!! I am amazed this is a G rated movie. The villains were the scariest I have seen in a Disney film. My children were terrified. They found the opening scene where the father is kidnapped quite distressing. The story and language went over their heads. I kept having to explain what was happening. In addition to that I thought the story line was a bit dull. Also the review said there is no sexy stuff. There is however a bar scene where a female mouse sings seductively on stage and then changes into a skimpier outfit to end the number. It's very mild sexy but it's there.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written byMidwestPrairie July 3, 2012
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Too violent; sexy singer promises to take off clothes

While I appreciated the clever nods to Sherlock Holmes, the movie was more violent and scary than my family and I expected. A mouse character is executed (fed to vicious cat) by the villain, and while you don't see the act of death, it's obvious. Another character is close to death, and generally the villains are far scarier in terms of big teeth and claws than most Disney movies. Also, there's significant peril with the little girl getting kidnapped and with a violent rube-goldberg style killing trap for the heros. Sexuality wise, I was quite thrown by a seedy bar scene in which a sexy cabaret girl actual sings that she'll "take off all her clothes" (that's the point where we quickly jumped forward a bit in the movie). Not worth the post-processing with kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex

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