A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Animation can give us the glory of sights and experiences that are impossible in the real world, and one of those sights, in "The Rescuers Down Under," is of a little boy clinging to the back of a soaring eagle. The flight sequence and many of the other action scenes in this new Disney animated feature create an exhilaration and freedom that are liberating. And the rest of the story is fun, too.
The movie marks a return for the tiny rescue squad of brave little mice, first seen in "The Rescuers" (1977). This time they're called to Australia after receiving word that an eagle and a little boy have been kidnapped by the evil poacher McLeach (with the rasping voice of George C. Scott). Two intrepid rescuers, Bernard and Miss Bianca (with voices by Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor), fly Down Under on an airline run by, and consisting of, Wilbur the Albatross, whose voice is by John Candy.
Various flight sequences make up a lot of the movie - not only the soaring grace of the eagle, but also the seagull's flopping ineptitude. The animation in these action scenes, like those in Disney's wonderful "The Little Mermaid" of last year, is fully realized, convincing, and entertaining. After a few uncertain years in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Disney animators (assisted now by computers) are back in top form.
The movie pits the hero, a little boy named Cody (voice by Adam Ryen), against the evil poacher McLeach. The villain roams the Outback in a gigantic land craft that seems to be a combination of army amphibious vehicle and launching pad. His goal is to capture members of endangered species and sell them for profit - and when the kid tries to protect the eagle, McLeach captures him, too.