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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Rescuers isn't as accessible to the youngest viewers as many other Disney features -- its dark story (a suspenseful tale of child kidnapping and slavery) may be too much for sensitive preschoolers. The young Penny and her mice companions are nearly drowned as they search for a treasure, which gleams from inside a human skull. Though the kindness and bravery of Penny's rescuers ultimately triumph over the evil kidnapper, kids might find that the scary elements linger after the movie has finished.
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What's the story?
When villainess Madame Medusa (voiced by Geraldine Page) kidnaps an orphan girl named Penny (voiced by Michelle Stacy) to help her find an enormous diamond, the police can't find her -- so two intrepid mice decide to track her down in Disney's 1977 animated adventure THE RESCUERS. Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor) and her janitor friend Bernard (Bob Newhart) head for the swamp to rescue Penny, enlisting the help of a ragtag group of critter friends, including valiant dragonfly Evinrude and clumsy albatross Orville (Jim Jordan).
Is it any good?
Although Disney animation was in a slump during the 1970s, the studio still managed to produce this worthwhile film. A more modest effort than recent Disney extravaganzas, The Rescuers still makes for great family viewing. Medusa is a villainess in the grand tradition of Cruella Deville, and the unlikely voice pairing of Eva Gabor as va-va-voom Miss Bianca and Bob Newhart as the timid janitor Bernard works exceptionally well. They enliven the melancholy Devil's Bayou, a haunting setting if ever there was one.
Because the film is unusually dark (literally and story-wise) a cast of animated misfits adds needed comic relief. Unfortunately this appealing mix is a bit dampened by sappy ballads that accompany some boring slide animation, dating it a little. Otherwise, this is a worthy Disney sleeper.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Rescuers, made in the 1970s, is different from animated movies they see today. Can you tell the movie was made a long time ago? If so, what gives it away?
Discuss the villain Medusa. What makes her an especially good villain? Who's your favorite villain in the movies or in books? Why? And why do stories always have villians? What would stories be like without them?
- In theaters: July 15, 1977
- On DVD or streaming: May 20, 2000
- Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page
- Director: Art Stevens
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 76 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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