By Ellen MacKay,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Great adventure, but too dark for preschoolers.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate.
Definitely a triumph of good over evil. Positive messages about helping others, and about the perils of being greedy. Penny worries that she's not pretty enough to be adopted, an idea that Medusa reinforces -- though ultimately that proves untrue. Major themes include integrity, courage, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
The mice in the International Rescue Aid Society take it upon themselves to help girls like Penny who are in need. Medusa, on the other hand, is the worst kind of villain: she is alternately charming and threatening when Penny does not do what she is told.
Violence & Scariness
Kidnapping of an orphan, perilous falls, and dangerous situations that nearly cause the drowning of a child. Medusa has a shotgun which she uses to shoot at mice, other animals, and the child. No blood, but snapping crocodiles tear at clothing. A diamond gleams from inside a human skull.
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Bullying language from an adult, who tells a child to "shut up," and calls her a "brat."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A country mouse drinks from a jug, remarking, "This new batch really packs a wallop!" He gives anybody who is lagging a slug of the booze, saying that it "will cure what ails you." Those who drink it spew fire and display renewed vigor.
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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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Based on 16 parent reviews
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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?
How do the characters in The Rescuers demonstrate integrity, courage, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?
- 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
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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