The Great Mouse Detective tek's rating:

The Great Mouse Detective (G)
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This came out in 1986. I'm not sure if I ever saw it when I was a kid, but I kind of doubt it. I finally watched it in 2012, and it didn't seem familiar. Anyway, apparently it came at a time when Disney's animation division wasn't doing well, but the movie did well enough both critically and financially (in spite of not doing as well as An American Tail) to keep the department going. Which is good, because it paved the way for the Disney Renaissance (which is generally considered to have begun with "The Little Mermaid," though some would say it started with this movie). Looking at it now, I definitely think it feels like a bridge between classic Disney animation and the modern era. Anyway... I really liked the music and the animation. There was some decent humor, interesting characters, some scary bits, a few moments of awesome, and some surprisingly adult stuff, as well. And the rivalry between Basil and Ratigan is actually fairly clever and engaging at some points.

It's set in 1897 London. And I guess it's based on a series of books I've never read, called "Basil of Baker Street" (which the movie was meant to be called, but Jeffrey Katzenberg apparently insisted on this other title, for some reason; most people involved in making the movie didn't like the new title). Anyway, it begins with a young mouse named Olivia Flaversham celebrating her birthday with her father, a toymaker. Suddenly, a bat breaks into the shop and kidnaps Olivia's father. In the next scene, we meet a mouse named Dr. David Q. Dawson (clearly based on Dr. John Watson), who has just returned to London after serving in the army for some time in Afghanistan (he narrates the film, to some extent). He finds Olivia, who has gotten lost while trying to find a great detective called "Basil of Baker Street" (clearly based on Sherlock Holmes; in fact he lives in the same building as Sherlock). Dawson helps Olivia locate Basil, though the detective isn't interested in her case, because he's obsessed with his never-ending attempt to capture a criminal mastermind named Professor Ratigan (clearly based on Professor Moriarty). However, when he hears about the bat that kidnapped her father, he realizes it's Ratigan's henchman, and so he takes the case.

With help from a dog named Toby, Basil and the others track down the bat, whose name is Fidget. However, Fidget ends up kidnapping Olivia, whom Ratigan wanted as incentive to force her father into building a device for him which was essential to his latest scheme. Despite having failed to catch Fidget, Basil and Dawson discover a list of items Fidget had been sent to acquire (including Olivia), and Basil later manages to deduce where the list came from. He and Dawson don disguises and head to a seedy bar called the Rat Trap, on the waterfront. I must mention that while there, they see a stage show by a singing and dancing mouse... whose act is surprisingly sexually suggestive (and she's got a pretty nice pair of legs, for a mouse). Anyway... they eventually spy Fidget, and follow him to Ratigan's secret lair.

Um... I don't really want to say too much more about the plot. But eventually Ratigan's evil plan is foiled, and there's a very dramatic battle which is reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem." (Seriously, when Basil and Ratigan were fighting on Big Ben, I couldn't help but think "Reichenbach Falls.") I should probably mention that Ratigan has a pet cat named Felicia, whom he uses as a weapon against pretty much any mouse who annoys him. Also I should say he hates it when anyone calls him a rat (though he definitely seems like one). And I should say that while mice and bats and such are anthropomorphised, animals like cats and dogs are just... animals. And oh yes, I would be dreadfully remiss if I didn't mention that Ratigan is voiced by Vincent Price. Well, I'm leaving out a lot of details, including some of the best moments of the film. But I really don't want to spoil it for you, if you haven't seen it. I guess all I can say is, if you like Disney animated movies and you like Sherlock Holmes, you're bound to like this. In fact, even if you only like one or the other, you're bound to like this.


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