Olivia, young daughter of a famed toy maker, contacts Basil after her father is kidnapped as part of a nefarious plot to dethrone the Queen of the Mice. They work together to stop the evil plot and rescue her father from the clutches of the villain, Ratigan.
The story of The Great Mouse Detective is pretty simple and straight-forward, with very little in the way of twists, turns, or complicated bits that would catch the attention of anyone who loves mysteries. That said, the characters we still engaging and kept my interest throughout the entire film.
One of Vincent Price’s last major roles was voicing the delightfully evil Professor Ratigan. He did a good job, though the script wasn’t as tight as it could have been. Another nice touch of authenticity in the film was the use of recordings of Basil Rathbone for the parts of Sherlock Holmes (Rathbone played Holmes in a number of different films). The author of the books on which this film is based has stated she named the character after this actor.
The animation was somewhat spotty in the film. From various reports I have read, it appears Disney then-CEO Michael Eisner cut the budget for The Great Mouse Detective by more than 50%, which likely impacted the quality of the work. On a more positive note, this film was one of the first Disney animated features to make use of CGI, most notably in the chase scene in the inner workings of Big Ben during the climax.
I was a little surprised by the burlesque scene, given this film was clearly marketed at children (based on the age of the protagonist, Olivia). While they didn’t make things too risque, there is plenty of innuendo in the dialog and song lyrics, which seemed out of place coming from Disney Animation.
In the end, the film is over pretty quickly and the day is saved through some luck and the courage of little Olivia, which inspired Basil to take action. The Great Mouse Detective is one of the weaker Disney animated features, but it is still a fun film and worthy of the Disney name.
Release Date: July 2, 1986 (USA)
MPAA Rating: G (should have been PG)
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (drinking party, prevalent tobacco smoking, drunkenness)
Sexuality: 1 (innuendo, burlesque scene)
Violence: 2 (murder, fisticuffs, scary imagery, nothing too graphic)