A Goofy Movie – (1995)
Director: Kevin Lima
Starring: Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden, Jim Cummings, Kellie Martin
Screenplay by: Jymn Magon, Chris Matheson, Brian Pimental
Goof Troop wasn’t that good of a show. While the attempt at animated, goofy ,domestic comedy was admirable, it was clear that the writers were better at stories with theoretically no limits. They tried to “wacky-fy” typical household scenarios, plots you’d see in an average sitcom, but without the sense of irony or true freedom to push for true physical humor (anvil drops, explosions, and so on). The DVD had an episode of Goof Troop on it, and while it was better than I expected, its flaws are still as prevalent as before.
So it’s no surprise that none of the show’s writers are credited on A Goofy Movie, a more adult look at the now-teenage son of Goofy, named Max, as he runs the typical route of being himself and accepting/avoiding his embarrassing father. And a cute girl’s in the picture, too, so there’s that. We’ve all seen this kind of thing before.
NOSTALGIC LENS: I don’t think I enjoyed this movie too much, but I did see it quite often, which makes me think there was something I enjoyed about it. I think the animation was rather nice for what it was at the time. There’s a cool, if out-dated dance scene at the end, though.
DOES IT HOLD UP: That irony and self-awareness that wasn’t present in the TV show? Running on all cylinders here. The new set of writers that were tapped to script this movie has a much better handle on the domestic drama, on the complications of father-son relationships, of teenage angst and the role of defining masculinity through nurturing over the years. Well… the Disney version at least.
Loser kid Max Goof pranks the last day of school with a huge mimetic performance of hit R&B singer, Powerline. This prompts a call from his principle to his father, Goofy, er, Goof, who scares him into thinking he’s on a one-way ticket to the electric chair. In a panic, Goofy forces his son on a road trip to bond, in order to influence him to do good things instead of life. Awkward goofy moments follow moments of togetherness and so on. Nothing you wouldn’t see in any other generic bonding film.
Of course, since it’s a Disney film, and it stars Goofy, we’re treated to some fun, wacky moments and typical music. And, since we’re not forced with some Princess that needs to be redeemed or beautified, the moments are more enjoyable than you expect them to be. Decently smooth animation and fluid movements helps in that regard; and can I say I did enjoy the songs a lot? Other than “On the Open Road,” which is more or less a “goofy” tune for some visual and audio humor, and “Nobody Else But You,” a way-too-easy, sum-it-up redemption melody, the music has some engaging 90s-esque sensibilitites. (And even those songs aren’t mind-numbingly grating):
Powerline could be a legit singer if he was real.
For the first half of the film, A Goofy Movie follows the usual plot points and beats, nothing too exciting but fun nonetheless. A particular amusing stop at a possum-themed, hillbilly tourist trap exposes some of Max’s hatred and embarrassment for his father — which is redeemed later when he and his father come together while trapped in their car from a silly yet vicious Bigfoot. It’s interesting to note that the writers do a decent job of keeping the adults’ overall misunderstanding of the teenage lifestyle. The principle, for example, completely confuses Max’s Powerline costume for gang member garb. I know that Twitter may be out his league (also it being 1995), but geez, watch a damn TV show once in a while.
But then, suddenly, the movie shifts, HARD, on a dime, during a moment where Pete and Goofy chat about their respective kids in a hot tub. After the typical high-spirited montage, things take hard edge at a sea-themed motel. Notice at 4:00, the sudden visual darkness and the serious tone the conversation takes. Farmer and Cummings, who spent the bulk of their movie speaking in their comic, sillier voices (Farmer maintains that levity even during the scene where Goofy and Max bond), get, literally, deep in the water.
Cummings delivery, “Hey, my son respects me,” is chilling. There’s a scary undertone here. There’s some implicit questioning and criticisms of the other’s parenting techniques, of how to best raise their child. Goofy doesn’t seem so goofy here; it’s the first time you will ever see him truly worried, concerned, reluctant, or angry. The rest of the movie tries to lighten the mood, but that hot tub scene hangs over every single frame that comes afterwards. This is a good thing, mind you.
The final scene is a little, well, goofy, but it’s too be expected. And the denouement is a sweet, if melodramatic moment where Max gets the girl and has a better acceptance of his father’s behavior. It would be a little overbearing had that hot tub scene not ratchet the drama up to Powerline 11.
IN A NUTSHELL: I was surprised by my overall enjoyment of the film. It seems the weakest element was the entire river/waterfall scene, a mediocre, on-the-nose section dedicated to the mending of relationships. But again, it’s a Disney film, so I’m not railing on it too much– and besides, that motel scene already won the film several points, giving the lesser compelling elements a pass.
December 28th: A Charlie Brown Christmas