Making the Grades
Hidden below the auspicious auditoriums of the United Nations in New York City is a more humble meeting room where the mouse versions of the multicultural delegates gather. Calling themselves The Rescue Aid Society, these dedicated rodents are committed to offering help to anyone in need. And a call for such assistance has just been received in the form of a scribbled message tucked into a bottle that was retrieved from the sea.
Reading the piteous plea of the obviously young Penny (voice of Michelle Stacy), the author of the distress note, pulls at the heartstrings of Miss Bianca (voice of Eva Gabor), the glamorous representative from Hungary. Yet when the beautiful agent asked to be assigned to the case, her feminine delicacy is denied unless she can find a male companion. So she chooses the shy janitor Mr. Bernard (voice of Bob Newhart), even though he is not the most masculine candidate.
Determined to protect Miss Bianca, and encouraged by her faltering confidence, Mr. Bernard joins her on the daring mission to discover who Penny is, where the orphan has ended up, and why she needs to be rescued. Their quest leads them into many risky situations, onboard an albatross for a harrowing flight, and into the dangerous Devil’s Bayou in the Florida Everglades.
While the peril is played in comedic fashion, parents may feel a moments pause as they translate the animated adventure into real life terms. The little girl at the center of the search has been kidnapped by malicious characters that verbally berate, physically threaten and psychologically coerce her into seeking for pirate treasure in a small dark cave prone to flooding during high tide. And Penny’s reaction to her plight is remarkably poignantly despite being depicted in a simple drawing style. Somehow I suspect a live action version of this plot would never have received a G rating from the MPAA.
Softened by the picturesque background paintings, paced by the sentimental score and given a caricatured villain (Madame Medusa, voiced of Geraldine Page) with a bumbling accomplice (Snoops, voiced by Joe Flynn) that are hard to take seriously—even when they are pulling pistols, blasting fireworks or siccing alligators on escaping youngsters—the movie has managed to find an accepting audience.
A feel-good ending and promotion of the idea that little creatures can still do big things are the elements that rescue this tale of two mice. Parents who chose to share this film with their children may want to watch with them, just in case the scary themes and emotional scenes have their own kids calling for help.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Rescuers.
Mr. Bernard’s character is superstitious. Do you know where the fear of the number 13 came from? Find some of the theories here:
The Rescue Aid Society, portrayed in this movie, claims their origins go back to the mouse that removed a thorn from the paw of a lion. This classic story is one of Aesop’s fables. You can learn more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_and_the_Mouse