REVIEW: A Goofy Movie
Produced by: Dan Rounds
Written by: Jymn Magon, Brian Pimental, Chris Matheson (screenplay), Jymn Magon (story)
Edited by: Gregory Perler
Art Direction by: Larry Leker, Wendell Luebbe
Production Design by: Fred Warter
Music by: Carter Burwell, Don Davis
Starring: Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden, Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, Kellie Martin, Pauly Shore, Pat Buttram, Wallace Shawn, Ray Liotta, Jenna von Oÿ, Tevin Campbell, Jo Anne Worley, Joey Lawrence, Frank Welker
Based on the TV series Goof Troop
Goofy was always one of the most enjoyable characters in Mickey’s group of friends. Anyone who’s seen pretty much any of the “How To” series shorts featuring the clumsy anthropomorphic dog-like creature knows that unquestionable fact. Arguably, he’s second only to Donald – who really stood more on the manic end of the comedy spectrum from Goofy. It’s only fitting that they each got their own domestic family sitcoms – Donald in Quack Pack and Goofy in the earlier Goof Troop, which introduced us to Goofy’s son, Max – while straightman and, honestly, comparatively bland Mickey was stuck playing emcee to all of his own shows. Quack Pack never seemed to resonate with kids from that era, and it didn’t seem to be half as fondly or frequently remembered compared to Goof Troop. (For me, personally, it came a little too late, as its entire one season came out when I lived overseas.) However, Disney seemed to recognize the fondness kids had for Goofy and Max’s domestic lives, so it was only logical that the corporation that would become well known for releasing unnecessary sequels to its classic films over the next decade would capitalize on its success with a theatrical film.
A Goofy Movie jumps ahead a bit in time, with Max now being a bit more grown up and doing all the normal teenager things like skateboarding, worshiping his favorite musician – Powerline – and falling in love with the cutest girl in his school. With age also comes a bit of resentment towards the man who lends his name to the film, Goofy, his father, who is an unending source of embarrassment and fear of what’s to come for Max. When Max pulls a big stunt at school to get said girl to notice him and winds up in the principal’s office, however, Goofy realizes that the two of them have been drifting further apart, and so he whisks an unwilling Max away on a road trip across the country, where he hopes to fish at the same spot that his father took him to – which just so happens to be within the same vicinity as the Powerline concert that the girl back home will be watching on pay-per-view with all their friends around and, hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if Max showed up on stage? And so the rest of the film basically covers Max’s struggle to maintain sanity and tolerate the antics of his oblivious father while also resisting the temptation to sabotage the whole trip.
Truth be told, I’ve always felt like people in my age group remember A Goofy Movie with rose-tinted glasses. Produced by DisneyToon Studios – the same division that continues to release all those awful Disney sequels and spinoffs – the animation is admittedly nice for what it is and is a definite step up from the TV series that spawned it. There’s not exactly a whole lot that stands out about it beyond the general competence, however – which is actually a lot more than can be said for some of Disney’s rivals’ films at around the same time. For those of you expecting as much from a Disney film, it’s also packed with a number of musical numbers… none of them being nearly as strong as the ones featured in the big Disney canon, and one in particular that just downright falls flat, which (SPOILERS, I guess) sucks since it’s the big reconciliation song between Max and Goofy. (END SPOILER ALERT) It is directed by Kevin Lima, who would later go on to co-direct the admirable Tarzan and direct the thoroughly enjoyable and earworm-infested Enchanted, so, again there is some talent behind it, but with all the film has going against it, such as the fact that the film isn’t all that terribly funny, well… you’ve got yourself one disappointingly un-goofy Goofy Movie.
While many may remember it fondly for this very fact, I think it may have been a mistake to go as dramatic as the filmmakers ended up going. There are some very amusing portions – an encounter with Big Foot and a trip to a rundown theme park featuring Lester’s Possum Jamboree come to mind – but almost none of it comes from Goofy himself, who comes off as more of an overbearing father than he does the nostalgic and tragic figure the filmmakers were seemingly aiming for – which, frankly, would have also been a mistake. Goofy’s usual slapstick features, but there’s a lack of timing, as if slapstick was merely about making sure the character trips up now and then. Also, Pauly Shore has a small but memorably annoying role as one of Max’s mohawk’d, cheese-guzzling A.V. club friends. I remember him being fairly amusing as a kid, but now I just cringe at the film’s idea of an amusing cool dude with ‘tude. He’s full on Poochie, to reference The Simpsons.
I feel like I’m hating on this movie. Why am I hating on this movie? I don’t even think or feel like I hate this movie, so why does it sound like I’m hating on it? I guess I’m just not as easily swayed by sentimentality as I thought. Or maybe it’s just that A Goofy Movie‘s stars really aren’t the kind that lend themselves well to family drama over comedy. I seem to recall the original TV series was a lot more energetic and silly than this. Remember the Goofy cartoon that actually made good use of wacky cartoon sound effects and physics? The filmmakers apparently didn’t. Or maybe they just felt like their growth onto the big screen necessitated a leaving behind of apparently childish things?
I’m not saying that they can’t explore the father/son dynamic and the separations that form between them as time goes on, but there’s definitely a way to do this without diminishing the overall spirit of the film’s already established central characters. This movie is way too focused on moralizing and emotionally resonant moments when it should have focused more on executing the comedy just right and letting the lessons fall into place naturally and subtly. It’s like having a Donald Duck cartoon where Donald rarely goes into an incomprehensible rage at some point in time but where we do finally learn the sad truth behind why he and Daisy are always taking care of their trio of nephews, who in turn also learn the importance of appreciating the family you have. (Though, speaking of which, where the heck were Pete’s wife and daughter, Peg and Pistol, in this movie?…)
Oh well. Perhaps I’ll just have to accept that maybe I’ve outgrown A Goofy Movie?
The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 2.5 / 5