Film Review: A Goofy Movie (1995)

*All reviews contain spoilers*
Disclaimer: This blog is purely recreational and not for profit. Any material, including images and/or video footage, is property of their respective companies, unless stated otherwise. The author claims no ownership of this material. The opinions expressed therein reflect those of the author and are not to be viewed as factual documentation. All screencaps are from Animationscreencaps.com.

 

Cast
Wayne Allwine – Mickey Mouse
Klee Bragger – Tourist Kid (at Lester’s)
Julie Brown – Lisa (crop top girl)
Pat Buttram – Possum Park Emcee
Tevin Campbell – Powerline
Jim Cummings – Pete
Bill Farmer – Goofy
Joey Lawrence – Chad (buff guy – hey, it’s Oliver!)
Kevin Lima – Lester
Aaron Lohr – Max Goof (singing)
Jason Marsden – Max Goof (speaking)
Kellie Martin – Roxanne
Jenna von Oÿ – Stacey
Rob Paulsen – P.J. Pete
Robyn Richards – Lester’s Grinning Girl
Wallace Shawn – Principal Mazur
Pauly Shore – Bobby Zimuruski (uncredited, strangely)
Brittany Alyse Smith – Photo Studio Girl
Herschel Sparber – Security Guard
Florence Stanley – Waitress
Frank Welker – Bigfoot
Jo Anne Worley – Miss Maples
Various additional voices including Corey Burton, Pat Carroll, Elizabeth Daily and Brian Pimental
Sources of Inspiration – Based on Goof Troop, an American TV series from 1992
Release Dates
April 5th, 1995 at the AMC Pleasure Island in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, USA (premiere)
April 7th, 1995 in the USA (general release)
Run-time – 78 minutes
Directors – Kevin Lima
Composers – Carter Burwell and Don Davis
Worldwide Gross – $35 million
Accolades – 5 nominations (all for Annie Awards)


1995 in History

The global population at this time is over five and a half billion people
The World Trade Organisation is established
The Great Hanshin Earthquake kills over 6,000 in Japan’s second-worst earthquake of the century
The infamous O. J. Simpson court trial spans most of the year in the USA; Simpson is acquitted
Kevin Mitnick is arrested by the FBI after hacking into top secret US computer systems
The first Yahoo! Search interface is founded
Mississippi becomes the last US state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the US constitution, which was nationally ratified in 1865 and approved the abolition of slavery
The Schengen Agreement goes into effect in Europe, easing cross-border travel
Popular Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is murdered by her former employer, Yolanda Saldívar
The Samashki massacre occurs as part of the First Chechen War, with Russian troops massacring over 250 civilians
Rox becomes the first TV series to be distributed via the internet
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols cause the Oklahoma City bombing in the US, killing 168 people; McVeigh is later executed, while Nichols is imprisoned for life
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is proclaimed the eleventh incarnation of the Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama; the six-year-old is promptly taken into custody by Chinese officials and has never been seen in public since (although he’s said to be living an ordinary life)
Shawn Nelson steals a tank from an armoury and goes on a rampage through San Diego with it before being shot by police
Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed in a horse-riding accident; he never walks again
The death penalty is abolished in South Africa
France briefly resumes nuclear testing in French Polynesia, continuing until early 1996
The Sampoong Department Store collapses in South Korea, killing 502 in the deadliest modern building collapse before 9/11
Over 8,000 Bosniak civilians are killed in the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and Herzegovina
On the Caribbean island of Montserrat, a series of eruptions from the Soufrière Hills volcano begin which continue to this day; about two thirds of the islanders have evacuated
Tensions rise between China and Taiwan during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
Just months after becoming the first woman to summit Everest without supplementary oxygen, climber Alison Hargreaves is killed in an avalanche
Microsoft releases the Windows 95 operating system
Online retailer eBay is founded
French woman Jeanne Calment becomes the oldest person ever recorded at 120; she lived for a further two years and her record still stands today
289 people are killed in the Baku Metro disaster in Azerbaijan, the world’s worst metro disaster
The Indian city of Bombay is officially renamed back to Mumbai
The Dayton Agreement ends the Bosnian War, but the wider Yugoslav Wars it was a part of continue
Serial killer Rose West becomes only the second woman in British legal history to receive life imprisonment, after Myra Hindley
Pixar releases the first ever entirely computer animated film: Toy Story
The medium of cinema celebrates its centenary
Births of Tom Glynn-Carney, Gigi Hadid, Troye Sivan, Kendall Jenner and Ross Lynch


 

Hello everyone, and welcome to another review! This week, we’re taking our last trip back to the nineties for a good while now, so let’s make it as nineties as we possibly can by taking a look at A Goofy Movie. This might not be one of the very best animated films from a technical standpoint, but it’s certainly one of the most beloved for the heart and energy that went into making it.

My first thought going into this one was that I felt a bit silly trying to analyse what is essentially a spin-off from a TV show, but millennial nostalgia for the film has given it a surprising longevity, so there’s definitely an enduring charm to the story despite its low budget. The show it span off from was Goof Troop, a 1992 Saturday morning effort created by Robert Taylor and Michael Peraza Jr. Disney decided to follow the show up with a full-length feature after considering various ideas for a TV special, eventually choosing Kevin Lima to helm it in his directorial debut (any fans of Tarzan or Enchanted certainly know his name). Lima’s idea was to completely reinvigorate the classic character of Goofy, giving him “an emotional side” that would allow audiences to connect with him in a way they never could before. Much of the rest of the cast was made up by regulars from the show, including Bill Farmer, Rob Paulsen and Jim Cummings – however, they decided to recast Max Goof with Jason Marsden, as his character was now supposed to be in high school and needed to sound more masculine (in a sad note, original actress Dana Hill passed away just a year after the film’s release from a diabetic stroke).

For any of you who are wondering why A Goofy Movie wasn’t part of my original Disney canon series, it doesn’t count because it wasn’t produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation (although they did help) – instead, it was the third film release from the recently-established Disney MovieToons, later to be renamed Disneytoon Studios. This was a kind of B-tier wing for Disney’s less ambitious film projects and would become notorious in later years for churning out an endless line of awful sequels to much better films. After that, they moved onto producing such franchises as the Disney Fairies and Planes, before finally closing down for good last year. Their debut had been the similar spin-off film DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp in 1990, which met with surprising critical success; that no doubt encouraged them to go ahead with A Goofy Movie. During production of the latter, they also released their first direct-to-video sequel, The Return of Jafar… just a taste of things to come. Even A Goofy Movie would end up with one of these!

It wasn’t only Disney MovieToons working on the film, though. They were joined by a consortium of other branches of the Disney company, including Walt Disney Television Animation, Walt Disney Animation Australia and particularly Walt Disney Animation France. (Are the words Walt Disney starting to sound weird to you?) The French studio were responsible for most of the animation, while the character design, art direction and storyboarding were done in Burbank – the French and American teams had quite the task on their hands trying to coordinate their work throughout the production, but they managed it in the end and, after a slight delay, the film was released a few months late in early 1995.

While only a modest success at the time, the memory of it seems to have gained strength over the interim two decades, with fans who saw it as kids (like me) adoring it for its unusually mature storyline and catchy musical numbers. Personally, I think the fact that it serves as a totally radical time capsule of the mid-nineties also adds to its nostalgia factor! So, don your JNCO’s and pop in a mixtape, because it’s time for A Goofy Movie.

 

Characters and Vocal Performances

Goofy playing car games

Bill Farmer had inherited Goofy’s mantle in 1987 and went on to become the best-known of the character’s many voices after the original, Pinto Colvig. He studied Colvig’s performances as Goofy to nail down the iconic laugh and the famous “gawrsh”, but weirdly, as he prepared to work on this film, he was asked by – who else? – Jeffrey Katzenberg to give Goofy a more normal speaking voice instead of his usual Southern drawl, presumably to better fit with the more serious storyline. (Seriously, this guy AGAIN, always meddling). Apparently, they even considered Steve Martin as an alternative for the role! Of course, as Farmer rightly pointed out, audiences do not go into a Goofy cartoon to hear him speak like Mr. McNormal, so after recording in this strange “regular” voice for about a week and a half, Michael Eisner and Roy E. Disney stepped in to ask him to return to the original Goofy voice. Once that was straightened out, Farmer ultimately spent over forty days across more than two years recording his part; considerably more than is typical for a voice role.

His hard work really paid off, resulting in one of Goofy’s finest screen appearances to date. While he had appeared in the canon films along with Mickey and Donald, he’d never had a Sorcerer’s Apprentice or a Three Caballeros where he could truly shine – his only starring role was in El Gaucho Goofy from Saludos Amigos in 1942, with his second and final canon appearance being a supporting role with Donald in Mickey and the Beanstalk from Fun and Fancy Free (funnily enough, that film gets a brief verbal reference in this one, perhaps as a nod to how long he’s been away from the big screen). By 1995, Goofy was long overdue a role like this, although not everybody agreed that he had what it took to support an entire feature: critic John Grant felt that the “television” version of him didn’t make a very successful transition to the silver screen, saying, ““The performance induces the same uneasy feelings one might have if one saw Fred Astaire forced, because he needed the money, to dance at a Spice Girls concert.”

Goofy performing perfect cast with Powerline

Ahem.

Well, anyway, most fans of the character seem to disagree, at least judging from what I’ve read. While it’s certainly surprising to see a slapstick-prone character like Goofy used in this way, it’s a pleasant surprise – after all, who knew he had that kind of range? Kevin Lima and Bill Farmer did a terrific job bringing him to life here.

Goofy slumped in chair

The plot is simple and as old as time; we follow Goofy’s struggle as a father to connect with his increasingly distant teenage son, Max, which takes some disastrous twists and turns as he reacts to a load of bad advice from those around him. Incidentally, many have wondered how in the world Goofy ever ended up with a son in the first place (perhaps it’s best not to think about it too much… ick), since Max’s mother has never been seen. I mean, Goofy had a fling with Clarabelle Cow once, didn’t he? Hm…

Regardless, when we first see Goofy, it’s clear right from the start that there are some communication issues between he and Max, although things haven’t gotten as dire as they will shortly become. Max’s room is a mess and Goofy sternly points out that he’s already talked to him about this; in the same scene, however, he also barges into his son’s room without knocking, demonstrating a lack of attention on both their parts. We also get a hint of the generational gap between them when Goofy accidentally destroys Max’s Powerline cut-out – the clueless dad has no idea who the rock star is, preferring instead to mambo to Xavier Cugat (a real-life star who was popular from the forties through the sixties).

Goofy kisses Max goodbye

It’s fairly standard stuff, but just the fact that it’s Goofy going through all this somehow makes it more interesting. While he clearly does love his son, like many parents he has failed to realise that Max is becoming a young adult, still treating him like a little boy and tending not to listen to much of what he’s saying (“Your old pop knows best,” he says). This lack of awareness of who his son really is quickly bites him in the butt later that day, as first Pete and then Principal Mazur give him some horrendous parenting advice which sends him into a panic.

Pete, who is hardly “Father of the Year” himself, first tries to insist that Goofy be firmer with Max, keeping the kid “under {his} thumb” in order to earn his respect. The audience (even as kids) know that Pete is wrong because his own son, P.J., is patently terrified of him – “My dad is gonna nuke my entire existence!” – but Goofy, bless his heart, is too naïve to recognise what a dreadful father Pete is and trusts his word as a “friend.” To make matters worse, Goofy then gets a call from Max’s Principal, a curmudgeonly tyrant who completely overreacts to Max’s little Powerline stunt and informs Goofy that the kid is some kind of delinquent on his way to “the electric chair.” Again, any parent with a lick of common sense would quickly dismiss Mazur’s words as the hyperbole they are, but not Goofy – he trusts those in authority and begins to fear that Max is on a fast track to juvie hall, resulting in his misguided plan to whisk Max off on a fishing trip for a little bonding time.

Goofy hugs Max in the car

Much like Finding Nemo, this is another of those stories that seems to take on new meaning with the added perspective of age. Once you get past your own awkward teenage phase, you start to sympathise more with what Goofy is trying to do; I remember as a kid being totally on Max’s side and resenting Goofy for forcing him to abandon his date with Roxanne, but now, all I see is a father who loves his son and has been manipulated into thinking he’s about to lose him. The fishing trip is a bad idea, for sure (another example of his total failure to account for Max’s age), but his intentions are good – the problems arise from lack of communication. It’s his single biggest fault, a mistake he keeps making over and over for most of the film; every time Max tries to talk to him, Goofy overrides him with bland reassurances that he knows what’s best, treating Max’s protests like the whining of a child instead of the more rational complaints of an adolescent.

Goofy with Max on his knee

Things come to a head at Lester’s Possum Park, a hilariously mangy roadside “theme park” that has obviously seen better days. For a teen, the place is a living nightmare and Max is quite plainly revolted by the whole experience – but Goofy, who apparently visited the place as a boy, cannot see past his own nostalgia and winds up humiliating Max with his enthusiasm for the dorky activities. Max’s pent-up frustration finally gets the better of him and he rants angrily to his dad about how sick of him he is, leaving a gloomy pall hanging over the camp the next day. A surprise run-in with Pete does nothing to improve the situation, as he advises Goofy to continue applying pressure to Max until he submits, all while demonstrating his own parental ineptitude by ordering P.J. around like a flunkey.

That night, however, Max and Goofy wind up trapped in their car by Bigfoot (just go with it) and are finally forced to spend a little awkward time together. The two do begin to talk, reminiscing about a simpler time – it’s a sweet moment, but it highlights Goofy’s regressive view of Max once again, as he’s essentially trying to bond with the child of yesteryear instead of the teenager in front of him. You really do feel for him in moments like this, looking sadly at his sleeping son and totally at a loss over how to connect with him.

Goofy hi dad soup scene

Later that night, Max makes a crucial decision which will eventually lead to he and Goofy resolving their differences at last; in a moment of desperation, he alters the roadmap while his dad is sleeping, hoping Goofy will be too busy enjoying the trip to notice and thus taking them to LA instead of Lake Destiny, Idaho. His timing is unfortunate, as the very next morning Goofy also makes a decision, his first good idea so far – sensing that Max is upset, he mistakenly thinks that the lad wants more responsibility and gives him total control of the map, allowing Max to pick all the stops for the rest of the trip. It’s an important moment, as it’s the first time Goofy seems to accept that this is not just his road trip and that Max does not necessarily enjoy the same things he does. While Max is pleased with the gesture, he’s now tormented with guilt over his deception – but that will have to be sorted out later.

What follows is an interesting montage sequence of the rest of the trip, which shows a lot of development in Goofy and Max’s relationship. While Max starts out by picking all sorts of activities that only he enjoys, he gradually realises that his father is now the one having a terrible time and so starts to pick sights that he knows Goofy will like too, a touching example of his growing consideration for his father’s feelings. The improvement is incapsulated in the scenes of them changing a tyre together – what they needed all along was to learn how to compromise and meet each other halfway.

Goofy betrayal imagery #1Goofy haunted expression

Unfortunately, they still haven’t dealt with the underlying issue, which soon rears its ugly head again in the form of Pete. When the boorish bloke barges into their motel, he’s surprised (and annoyed) to find the two of them getting along famously, so like the toxic friend he is, he can’t resist stirring the pot. Just as Goofy is happily telling him how much better things have been with Max lately, Pete drops the bomb: he’s just heard Max tell P.J. about the map scheme. Poor Goofy looks shell-shocked at the very idea of Max lying to him, but notably, he refuses to just take Pete’s word for it – and this after he’s spent the whole rest of the film taking his word as gospel. His faith in his son is strong enough to outweigh his faith in anyone else, so it takes the hard evidence of the map to convince him of the painful truth.

Goofy angry while driving

These are some of the film’s best scenes, as Goofy struggles to accept the fact that his son would do this to him. He feels betrayed, as though everything Pete and Mazur said about Max going off the rails was true, but even at this point he’s still willing to trust Max, giving him one last chance to do the right thing when he continues to allow Max to give him directions. Of course, by this point, Max knows full well that Goofy is on to him, so he’s forced into making a very panicky and symbolic choice – “This is it, left or right!” – ultimately committing to his LA plan and leaving Goofy furious. (Side note: angry Goofy is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen… brrr).

Max tries to explain to GoofyMax arguing with Goofy on car roof

The time has finally come to deal with all these repressed emotions, and Kevin Lima has his characters do this in an appropriately goofy fashion. At first, when Goofy pulls over to sulk and Max struggles to explain himself, it looks like they’re still not going to be able to resolve this – but then the car rolls off down the hill, leading the two of them into a frantic chase during which they begin to get all their frustrations with each other off their chests. A particularly funny touch in this part is how the two of them keep helping and looking out for each other, even as they yell and rant; they might be angry, but they’re always there for one another. Max calls Goofy out for treating him like a child and keeping him from having his own life, but Goofy tells him, “No matter how big you get… you’ll always be my son!” (Sniff). This leads them into the little bonding duet Nobody Else But You, after which we see that they have finally had a proper heart-to-heart with each other and are at last on the same page.

There follows a dramatic incident involving a waterfall in which Goofy nearly dies (and not in a cartoony way, even giving a disturbingly natural scream of fear instead of his usual “holler”), but luckily, Max is able to rescue him with “the perfect cast.” This angling manoeuvre serves as a sort of metaphor for Goofy and Max’s relationship, as it was a source of bonding between Goofy and his father and is thus something he wants to pass on to his own son. The perfect cast apparently links all the fathers and sons for generations in the Goof family, but Max stubbornly resists Goofy’s early attempts to teach him it. Yet as we see here, he did take it in after all and uses it to rescue Goofy at the last moment; the pride in Goofy’s eyes is just too much, it’s such a sweet moment for the two of them.

Max and Goofy waterfall hug

The perfect cast also famously crops up again shortly afterwards, after Goofy has somehow managed to sneak himself and Max into the Powerline concert. Now that he knows Max’s plans were never as dangerous as everyone made out, Goofy’s fully onboard with the whole shebang and even joins Max onstage with Powerline (who is super chill about the whole thing) – Max actually has fun with this, no longer embarrassed by his father but happy to be around him. They return from their road trip battered, bruised and soaking wet, but on better terms than they’ve been on in a long time.

It’s a skilfully handled story that many young viewers out there could relate to, and numerous fans have even stated that they were able to improve their relationships with their own fathers after watching this film with them. With this, Goofy finally got his moment in the sun, and he really made the most of it.

Max unmasked by Mazur

Now, this is a good place to note that I never saw Goof Troop growing up. I know, I was so deprived, but we didn’t have Disney Channel in my house until sometime in the early 2000s – I grew up with Recess, Kim Possible and Lizzie McGuire, but Goof Troop was long gone by then. With that in mind, this film (and its sequel) were the only exposure to the character of Max Goof that I ever got. I gather that his relationship with his father was better on the show, but by the time the events of this film unfold they’ve clearly been drifting apart for some time.

The film opens on the last day of school, with Max planning an ambitious stunt for the final assembly in an attempt to gain a little street cred for himself. His main motivation is – what else – a girl he wants to impress, by the name of Roxanne. Like any youth, he assumes that such grandiose gestures are the only way to a girl’s heart, not even realising that she’s already fond of him because of who he is – his laugh, which is the very thing he’s most insecure about, is in fact one of the things she finds the cutest about him.

Max and Roxanne talk in office

They may both be too awkward to just spit it out, but after Max’s concert they do manage to fumble their way into arranging a date (with a little help from Stacey). Riding high on the buzz of popularity, Max’s wave of elation quickly collapses once he gets home; his Principal has been on the phone to Goofy about the assembly, so now the lad finds himself forced into a weeks-long fishing trip with his clumsy, uncool father. His protests are all to no avail, but he is able to make a quick pit-stop at Roxanne’s before they leave. She doesn’t take the cancellation of their first date very well and sadly murmurs something about finding “someone else”, so the panicking Max blurts out the lie that will dog him for the rest of the film – his father knows Powerline, and they’re on their way to LA to appear on live TV with him at his big concert. We know why he does this, but you still want to give him a good shake; there’s no way this can end well.

Max and Goofy fight over radio

Out on the road, it soon becomes apparent that Max and Goofy are about as out of touch with each other as they can get, nowhere more obvious than when they fight over the radio. While Goofy favours a whimsical tune from the fifties, Max is doing air-guitar to some grungy heavy rock; their inability to compromise destroys the radio, leading them into On the Open Road. As I’ve already described above, there then follows a series of misadventures in which Max grows increasingly irritated with his dad, punctuated by sporadic appearances from Pete who keeps making things worse. The decision to alter the map is the most morally ambiguous one Max makes, but it’s still easy to understand why he does it – Goofy’s refusal to allow him to honour his own commitments has left him feeling powerless and desperate, but he’s a good kid at heart and the map change continues to bother him long after he’s done it.

Max changes the map

The funny thing is, Max seems to envy his best buddy P.J. for having such a luxurious lifestyle, not recognising how unhappy the guy is with his overbearing and abusive father. Goofy may not be “cool” or stylish, but he does love Max – as you get older, you start to see how skewed Max’s priorities are, and his teen angst feels less and less relatable. It’s also ironic that his relationship with his dad starts to improve right after he commits the deception – if only he could have made it through one more night! Still, in the long run, it turns out for the better, since he would never have resolved things with Goofy had he not tried to pull the wool over his eyes in the first place.

Max looking sheepish in car

Max is just an ordinary teen trying to carve out an identity for himself, all while dealing with the hormones of puberty and the first flush of young love, but he’s forced into making some questionable choices by Goofy’s insistent new parenting techniques – which in turn came from Pete. That bully is really the root of most of the film’s conflict, as it’s following his bad advice that gets Goofy and Max into their predicament; Goofy’s instincts say to “back off” and this, it turns out, is exactly what Max needs him to do. Once the two of them finally do manage to talk their problems out, they’re thick as thieves – the film seems to be telling the parents in the audience to trust their gut and not be swayed too much by what other people think they should be doing. Above all, though, the lesson for the adult viewers is to allow your children the room they need to grow up, as suffocating them will only drive them further away.

Max explaining to Roxanne

One final note on Max’s character arc. While I think the decision to have him actually make his lie come true sort of undermines the morality of the story, I appreciate that the writers gave him enough integrity to admit the truth to Roxanne anyway, even when he didn’t have to. Having learned the importance of honesty after his experiences with Goofy, Max knows that starting his relationship with Roxanne with a lie is not right; thankfully, she forgives him, seemingly understanding how difficult fathers can be. Given the positive note things end on, my only question is why she’s neither seen nor mentioned in the sequel…

Roxanne offering Max a seat

Ah, Roxanne… you don’t have to put on that red light…

Our female lead in A Goofy Movie is Max’s high school sweetheart, a charming redheaded lass who is apparently one of the more popular girls on campus. Normally, I don’t care for this character type much – Roxanne is defined entirely by her relationship to Max, all of her scenes revolve around him, and when she’s not physically present, we’re seeing lovestruck images of her everywhere through Max’s perspective. Still, I can’t bring myself to hold that against this film, as she and Max do make a genuinely adorable couple.

Roxanne leans in for kiss

The first time we see Roxanne, it’s not actually her but Max’s fantasy of her – like any smitten teen, he’s more in love with the idea of her than the girl herself, since he doesn’t actually seem to know her very well. (It’s also entertaining to imagine how different this teenage dream might have been in reality…) However, the film shows us that the real Roxanne is a person well worth falling for, as the first thing she does in the film is to help Max up after he’s taken a tumble off the bleachers while everybody else stands and laughs. She actually comes across as endearingly shy, letting her chatty friend Stacey do most of the talking and requiring a little extra shove to approach Max. It’s a nice touch; normally, we have the tired old cliché of the popular girl who doesn’t even know the nerdy hero exists, but here, she’s every bit as awkward as he is, making her feel much more human than many other such characters.

Roxanne looking disappointed

Roxanne is just as excited as Max once they’ve arranged their date for Stacey’s party, so when he reluctantly shows up after school to cancel it, she’s very disappointed. This little moment between the two of them is another of the main motivators of the plot (after Pete’s meddling) since her reaction to Max cancelling the date is what prompts him to lie in his desperation not to lose her. It’s almost as though she’s secretly insecure, not believing Max is really interested in her and even subtly trying to make him jealous (“I’m sure I can find someone else”) as though attempting to recapture his interest. I have to say, it’s also ridiculous that she swallows that whopper, even if she does seem incredulous about it – on the night of the party, it’s clear until she actually sees Max that she’s half-expecting him not to be there from the beginning.

Still, whatever problems she might create with her fickleness, it’s evident from the start that she does care about Max and genuinely wants to be with him, so they’re an easy couple to root for. Her dynamic with her father also adds an interesting layer to the situation, since in the words of critic John Grant, he’s “a caricature of the father every adolescent boy would least like his sweetheart to have.” Despite his imposing size and brutish demeanour, his daughter seems to have him wrapped around her little finger, suggesting that she knows full well how embarrassing fathers can be – this may explain why she’s so understanding towards Max at the end, after he tells her the truth.

With these two, Kevin Lima encapsulates the quintessential high school couple; they’re sweaty and nervous, sure, but once they can finally articulate their feelings there’s nothing that will stand in their way.

Stacey on stage

The most significant female character besides Roxanne is her best friend, Stacey, who is the student body president. Despite playing only a minor role in the story, she has become something of a fan favourite – to quote John Grant again, he described her as “intriguing, attractive and profound” and I sort of see where he’s coming from. Jenna von Oÿ really loads her with personality, so even though she’s supposedly playing second fiddle to the high school heartthrob, Stacey quickly becomes a bit of a scene-stealer. She’s a blatant shipper of Max and Roxanne and plays an active role in pushing them together, even warning other girls off Max after his stunt at the assembly. It’s great to see what a loyal friend she is to Roxanne, encouraging her to pursue Max and then reaffirming her faith in him when he doesn’t immediately appear at the Powerline concert.

Stacey with Bobby

With all this in mind, I think it’s a shame that the writers fell back on that old cliché of pairing Stacey off with the most convenient side character at the end. I mean, it’s only a brief shot of her making eyes at Bobby, but as entertaining as he is, he’s also a bit of a sleazebag and she could do so much better. Why did Stacey need to be interested in a guy at all? (And if so, why not the more likeable P.J.? Please tell me it wasn’t to do with his size…) It had nothing to do with the rest of the story and adds nothing to either character. Ah well… 1995 was another time as far as gender politics are concerned. Like Roxanne, Stacey is also absent from the sequel and Bobby is very much single there, so whatever fling they had evidently didn’t last.

Pete in the photography studio

To round out the principal cast, we have Pete, one of Disney’s oldest characters who in this film is Goofy’s business partner and so-called “friend”. The idea of them running a photography business at the mall together already feels weird, although Pete clearly regards Goofy as the junior partner in their arrangement. It has to be said that he feels less “evil” than in his other incarnations, even coming across as quite genial at times, but then that’s probably just because of the film’s more realistic tone – he’s actually toxic in a very real way, belittling and manipulating Goofy while taking advantage of his trust. Interestingly, his wife and daughter from the show (Peg and Pistol) seem to have vanished… perhaps he’s just on a road trip with P.J. in the same way Goofy is with Max, while the girls stay home for some bonding time of their own?

Pete says watch this

Either way, Pete’s repeated incursions into the Goof’s family dynamic are a major source of conflict throughout the story. While he presents his advice to Goofy under the guise of wisdom, it’s clear that his intentions are selfish ones; his motivation seems to be malicious jealousy, as though he recognises that Max and Goofy have a naturally better relationship than he and P.J. and doesn’t like being made to feel like a bad father. Of course, that’s probably giving him too much credit; I doubt a boor like Pete is that self-aware. To be honest, you get the feeling that he’s just one of those people who likes messing with people for fun – I’m sure you all know the type.

Pete’s idea of “parenting” is basically total domination and repression; as he puts it, “If you keep ‘em under your thumb, they’ll never end up in the gutter!” Although this type of control-freakery is often born out of a genuine desire from many real parents to protect their children, I don’t think that’s the case here – Pete is simply exploiting his son’s natural good nature and using it against him to provide himself with a bit of cheap labour. Perhaps Pete’s attempts to advise Goofy on dealing with Max’s angst are his own twisted way of trying to help his friend out, working on the assumption that he thinks Goofy would like a terrified slave instead of a son too, but honestly that’s the nicest possible way I can find to read him. You even see hints of his impatient, controlling approach when he’s at work at the photography studio – Goofy connects with the kids by playing and engaging with them, whereas Pete quickly abandons this shtick and literally tapes them down to the desk.

Pete in the hot tub

The hot tub scene highlights what a catty person he is (and officially, he and P.J. actually are cats). He resents Goofy telling him that none of his “techniques” worked on Max, so he takes great delight in bursting Goofy’s bubble by explaining about Max’s deception with the map. There follows one of the film’s best moments, where Goofy points out that while Max might not be perfect, he loves him, only to be haughtily told by Pete, “Hey, my son respects me.” Of course, the truth is that neither boy respects their father at this point, but unlike the oppressed P.J., Max is able to resolve his issues with his father precisely because Goofy knows what respect is. Pete is one of those tragic lost causes who will likely never change, because in his eyes, he’s not doing anything wrong.

P.J. my dad is gonna smash me like a bug

Poor, poor P.J. … Max’s relationship with his father might be troubled, but P.J.’s is downright appalling. This likeable young lad is Max’s best friend, first seen helping him to organise his big assembly surprise for Roxanne. He plays essentially the same role as Stacey does, supporting his friend in his pursuit of his crush and genuinely rooting for them to get together. Also like her, he never doubts that Max will be able to pull off his scheme to get onstage with Powerline, even after Max has confided to him that it’s all been a lie and he’s duping his dad to get them there.

P.J. with Max in RV

Given how sweet he is, it’s sad to see the way his father treats him. Even before we actually see them together out in the woods, we learn plenty about their relationship from the look of sheer dread on P.J.’s face as he exits Principal Mazur’s office (“My dad is gonna smash me like a bug!”). This might make for a quick laugh when you’re a kid, but watching as an adult your heart really goes out to him, as you can picture all too well the kind of abuse – physical or otherwise – he’s in for when he gets home. Considering this is 1995, long before today’s culture of mental health awareness had really begun to develop, it’s doubtful there’s much support in place for kids like P.J. at the school. After all, Mazur doesn’t seem like the understanding type, does he? Heck, he’d probably treat his own kids just as badly, if he had any!

P.J. after failed high five

Pete not only uses P.J. as free labour, loading him with chores without lifting a finger himself, he also takes his exploitation of the boy to ridiculous extremes, such as having him run up to the RV’s built-in bowling lane to kick down the last pin he needs to make a “strike.” Even worse, he takes visible joy in humiliating P.J. in front of his friend, although to give the kid credit, he does seem to bounce back from this quite quickly – clearly, he’s used to his dad’s “jokes.” Granted, we never actually see Pete get violent with P.J. or anything (not that they’d ever show that in A Goofy Movie), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening…

Bobby leaning tower of cheeza

Max’s other main companion at school is Robert “Bobby” Zimuruski, a kooky character with a shaggy mohawk who provides the technical assistance for Max’s assembly stunt. With his distinctive way of speaking and carefree manner, he is another fan favourite who feels like a blend of the A.V. Kid from Recess and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s “Dusty” from Twister (1996). It’s actually kind of debatable whether or not he’s Max’s friend, because although he does help out with the assembly, he doesn’t do it for free like P.J. and only seems interested in Max when he’s popular. Just look at the climactic scene where Max appears on TV – before he comes on, Bobby’s like, “Hey, that Goof kid ain’t there!” Then as soon as Max shows up, he’s all, “That’s Max! I know him!” Really, Bobby? “That Goof kid”? Cold.

Either way, he’s still a riot whenever he’s on screen, rolling with the punches and chatting away to a seething Principal Mazur like they’re best buddies on spring break together. While Max frets about the trouble they’re in, Bobby is busy gorging himself on the cheese they paid him for his help, and soon he’s enjoying Max’s spontaneous dance with the secretary (“Groooove with her!”). He’s on another planet half the time so he’s perhaps not as reliable a friend as P.J., but he does still play a big part in boosting Max’s reputation with the other kids, so he’s certainly willing to help a fellow underdog in his own way.

Principal Mazur beckons Bobby

Screenwriter Jymm Magon based the uptight character of Principal Mazur on his own high school principal, even using the same name (damn, wonder if the guy ever made the connection). Voiced perfectly by Wallace Shawn, he wound up being recycled – voice and all – as the principal in Chicken Little ten years later. This guy is the classic stick-in-the-mud principal, a petty tyrant who presumably got into the job in the first place because he liked having power over the students (I bet Pete is on the PTA). As we see at the assembly, he’s completely out of touch with what’s truly important to the kids, boring them all with his exaggerated talk of “science slumber parties” – he functions as a kind of teenybopper version of a Reaganesque stuffed shirt, pompous and ridiculous, which is why Max quickly “sticks it to the man” by dropping him through a trapdoor and kicking off his Powerline stunt.

Of course, Mazur’s most important role in the story comes afterwards, when he calls Goofy to complain about Max’s behaviour. In one of the most absurd overreactions in animated history, he blathers on about riots and gangs before condemning Max to a fate in the “electric chair” (which, by the way, I always found really messed up; disregarding the issue of whether capital punishment is appropriate or not, the electric chair is only used by a handful of US states now and feels disturbingly out of place in a kid’s film like this, even if it’s only referenced). Goofy, naturally, is panicked to think Max is so far off the rails, which results in his idea of taking his son on a fishing trip. Yeah, good job there, Mazur.

Miss Maples in office

Far more likeable is his secretary, Miss Maples, who gets to enjoy a random dance party with Max after the latter successfully arranges his date with Roxanne. It’s another funny nod to Max’s similarities to his father, because for all the fuss he makes about rejecting his dad’s taste in music, his first instinct when he’s excited is to cry: “Everybody mambo!” Miss Maples knows how to have fun and after briefly giggling, “But it’s not my break yet!” she gets into the swing of it, laughing her head off as Max sweeps her about on her swivel chair. Mazur angrily demands she call Max’s father, but even his sour mood can’t dampen her spirits and she simply sails past him trilling, “Right away sir!” She’s so much fun and makes for one of the best cameo roles in the film.

Powerline at start of show

For the rock star Powerline, Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown and Prince were the chief inspirations, although his distinctive costume was modelled on the yellow hazmat suits worn by Devo in the late 1970s. Apparently, Bobby Brown was actually the original choice for the role and even did some recording for it, but was later fired due to substance abuses. Some of the songs he created for the role were later reworked so he could include them on his Forever album in 1997. Once Tevin Campbell was brought in, he recorded his songs in front of a green screen while performing his own choreography, so that the animators could use it as reference footage later.

Once again, he’s an example of a fairly minor character having a big impact on the plot, because he’s the focus of Max’s plan to keep his date with Roxanne. After lying that his father used to play in a band with the guy (which already seems unlikely as there must be a couple of decades between them in age), Max’s mission for the rest of the film is to somehow get himself and Goofy to the star’s big concert in LA. As we’ve seen, he manages it against all odds, and once they get there Max and Goofy even wind up on stage with Powerline himself – who seems to take this a lot better than most real rock stars would, to his credit, even incorporating their dancing into his performance. (Although it’s all about image in Hollywood, so he probably knows he’ll look better engaging with fans rather than having them thrown off the stage).

Bigfoot grooving to the Bee Gees

The Bigfoot, random as he may seem, is a bit of a scene-stealer with his wild tantrums and penchant for disco music. Seriously, what is it with animation, disco and cryptids? Seems a random mixture… Anyway. Bigfoot as shown here seems to have just as mysterious of a reputation as he does in reality, because Max and Goofy are stunned to run into him out in the woods and even briefly imagine a life of fame once they manage to film him – that is, until he absent-mindedly destroys their video camera. He winds up trapping them in their car overnight and thus becomes a sort of plot device, as it’s his presence that eventually drives Max into tampering with the map out of frustration. He’s almost cute in a weird way, getting adorably excited over sock puppets and underwear, but he can also be frightening when you set him off; he becomes territorial over the Goofs’ car, refusing to let them leave for hours, but luckily they do somehow manage to escape in the end.

Treeny and WendellTreeny on stage

We’re coming to the minor characters now, most of whom are fellow travellers the Goofs meet on the road or students at Max’s school. Everybody remembers the fabulous diva who joins Powerline in his show, but I feel like most fans don’t know her name – she’s called Treeny, and we actually meet her long before the show just as Max and Goofy are first setting out on their road trip. There, we see her in a nearby convertible with her diminutive husband, Wendell, apparently about to enjoy a vacation before she heads to LA for the show. (“With the odd romantic episode,” too! Very steamy…)

Later, after Goofy has snuck Max into Powerline’s concert, he accidentally stumbles into Treeny’s dressing room in my favourite gag of the whole film. She gives a roar of terror (presumably thinking he’s a creepy fan there to molest her) and delivers one heck of a punch that sends Goofy flying out onto a platform that carries him up to the stage. It’s great to see her defend herself, but I have to wonder why she’s not dressed yet when she’s due to be on stage in mere moments! What a procrastinator. Still, when she does appear, she knocks it out of the park with her awesome voice – Tevin Campbell might be the superstar, but Rosie Gaines deserves credit for her vocals here, too!

Possum Park Emcee

Among the other bit parts, we have the Possum Park Emcee, a jaded old coot from the two-bit theme park that Goofy takes Max to, who seems to be the only one besides Max who recognises the state the place is in. He looks so done with his job, even knowing the exact moment to smack the electronics to get them working again without missing a beat. The role is notable for being the last for comedy legend Pat Buttram, who passed away in his late seventies over a year before the film’s release.

Lisa and Chad

We also have Lisa and Chad, the only other two students at Max’s school to be named outside of his little circle. Lisa is a tall, toned and tanned blonde girl who looks to be a grade or two above Max, and she initially has her sights set firmly on the beefy jock Chad, angrily giving Max a smack on the shoulder when he repels the dude with his nerdiness. Of course, once Max becomes the new flavour of the month later that day, she’s all over him – but Stacey promptly moves her along, saying, “Forget it girl, he’s Roxanne’s!” Her design is so nineties, with the strappy crop top and torn, stonewashed jeans. Then there’s Chad, her boyfriend (maybe), who seems to pose the main threat to Max’s chances with Roxanne; just hours after making out with Lisa, he’s putting the moves on Roxanne at the school assembly! He may have a glittery smile, but he seems like a bit of a creep. No wonder Max was so panicked at the thought of her finding “someone else,” if this is who she meant.

Goofy Movie Waitress

Among the most notable folk from the road trip is an unnamed Waitress, who kindly tries to cheer up the despondent Max when he and Goofy have breakfast at a truck stop diner on the way. Unbeknown to her, this is the morning after Max has betrayed his father by changing the map, but it’s still sweet of her to put his bacon and eggs into a smiley face and she patiently overlooks his distraction when she brings them over.

Photo Studio Girl

There’s also the unnamed Photo Studio Girl who runs riot in an early scene, with both Goofy and Pete taking different approaches to try and calm her down long enough to take her picture. Goofy, of course, is a natural and the girl quickly takes to him, but she’s no fool and soon gets the better of the sleazy Pete when he tries to awkwardly imitate Goofy’s enthusiasm. Once Goofy goes charging off to prepare his fishing trip, Pete is left alone with the girl – and she promptly escapes, not just from the studio but from her diaper, chasing after Goofy with glee.

Powerline's security guard

Finally, we must spare a thought for that poor Security Guard working at Powerline’s concert, who is given a real run for his money by Max and winds up being thrown into a massive electric screen in a shower of sparks. Oh my God! I hope he survived that – he was just doing his job!

 

Animation

Pre-production for the film began in Burbank around the middle of 1993, but when it came time to start the animation, Disney looked to its French studio in Paris, who had also done much of the work for the DuckTales film a few years earlier. (Feature Animation were very busy with the competing projects of The Lion King and Pocahontas at that time, so there was no way they were going to take it on). The Paris team was headed by Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi, but some other scenes were completed in Sydney under the direction of Steve Moore, with clean-up being handled at the Burbank studio. Later, some further clean-up work was completed in Canada, with ink and paint being handled by Pixibox studio in France. It was truly an international effort, although that did present some problems.

Goofy says could you back up mr foot

The biggest challenge was the language barrier: many of the French animators spoke little English and the Californians had equally little French, so it could prove difficult for the American director to explain just what he needed. There was also something of a comedy barrier, since the French were used to working with different mouth movements for speech, making the lip-synching of the characters’ mouths to dialogue trickier than anticipated (European comedy tends to be more physical than verbal). Even coordinating the two teams from different continents was tough in these pre-Skype days, with the time differences and schedule delays requiring a lot of patience from everybody involved.

Pete arrives in his RV

As always with Disney, even when the general standard of the animation isn’t top-notch, the character work is always exceptional – just the little details like Roxanne fiddling with her hair when she’s nervous or Max ducking his head when he’s shy make them feel so much more real as people. Many of the background characters are also surprisingly memorable thanks to some inventive designs and lively animation, and there are certain moments where the animation really shines, such as with the arrival of Pete’s gargantuan RV – an over-the-top parody of consumerism run rampant. (After all, can you even call what Pete’s doing “camping”?)

However, it has to be said that for all its skill, the animation is never able to be quite as stunning as it was in some of the Feature Animation unit’s projects at the time; it’s not the fault of the animators, as their budget was only a fraction of that given to something like The Lion King and they certainly made the best of what they had. Disneytoon Studios was never intended to produce top-tier classics like Feature Animation made; rather, it was meant to revive the older, slapstick-heavy style that characters like Goofy had been created for. If only they could have stuck with films like this instead of degenerating into a factory for endless sequels… (bloody Eisner).

 

Plot

Jymm Magon was hired to write the film’s script before anyone else – even Kevin Lima – had gotten involved, with Brian Pimental being brought in later to serve as story supervisor. Magon watched a lot of road trip films to prepare, getting an idea of the various tropes that such films employed by drawing from things like the National Lampoon’s Vacation series (1983-1989 at the time). Apparently, a further piece of inspiration came from Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was feeling distant from his own daughter, Laura, at the time. Like Goofy, he set off on a road trip with her (hopefully not dragging her away from her own Rocky/Roxanne) and they did indeed become closer during it.

Lima, as we’ve already noted, was keen to expand on Goofy’s rather limited character, saying, “Instead of just keeping Goofy one-dimensional as he’s been in the past, we wanted to give an emotional side that would add to the emotional arc of the story. We wanted the audience to see his feelings instead of just his antics.” I know that some critics felt this didn’t work, but most fans would disagree – this is still widely referenced by millennial viewers as one of the top father-son stories of their generation.

Goofy what the map says Max we will follow

Ultimately, the story elements presented are not very complex, for all their maturity. A Goofy Movie is your basic coming-of-age film from the nineties, mixed with the standard road trip formula and a dash of the old “Liar Revealed” trope. As is typical for these stories, the parent clumsily tries to bond with their child by forcing them to do the kinds of activities which they enjoyed with their own fathers, not taking into consideration the changing times or the child’s own interests. The child lashes out and rebels, until they eventually reach an understanding by learning to communicate, after which their bonding can finally happen.

Max changes the map

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of plots whose entire dramatic tension hinges on a massive lie, especially when it’s such a whopper as the one Max tells Roxanne, but it doesn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of this one given how crazy the whole set-up is in the first place. Strangely, the story actually enables Max to make his lie a reality (creating very mixed messages about morality), but to avoid the implication that lying is fine as long as you get away with it, the writers make sure to have Max confess the truth anyway, displaying a level of respect for Roxanne that makes him feel much more sympathetic than if he’d just let the whole thing go unnoticed.

Marlin hugging Nemo at the end

Given the similarity in themes to our last film, Finding Nemo, I can’t help but compare the two. I have to admit that while I am a big fan of both films, I think the story of father-son bonding is handled better there than it is here. Goofy’s position is less understandable than Marlin’s was because we’re never given much info on his backstory; with Marlin, we know full well why he’s such a worrywart, and the tragedy in which he lost his wife also leaves Nemo somewhat disabled, giving him a legitimate reason to be overprotective. Goofy, on the other hand, makes no mention of Max’s mother at all (nor does he in the show, as far as I’m aware) and his concerns are shown to be completely baseless because the audience knows he’s just reacting to the bad advice of various onlookers.

Max, too, suffers a bit from this setup; whereas Nemo rebelling against Marlin immediately gets him into serious trouble, thus proving Marlin partially right and creating a complex situation where neither character is totally at fault, Max’s motivations are shallower. We get why he doesn’t want to go on the fishing trip but, in the grand scheme of things, resisting his father’s attempts at bonding for the sake of a high school relationship that doesn’t even last into college feels rather rotten of him. Although both kids are just looking for a little independence, Max’s betrayal of his father also feels much crueller than Nemo’s childish quip of “I hate you,” as he deliberately tries to trick Goofy into giving him what he wants and then actually ends up getting it. Since the film is aimed more squarely at younger viewers, the focus is more on Max and we see the events largely through his perspective, but this does have the side-effect of making it harder to sympathise with Goofy, even if the film never demonises him.

 

Cinematography

The art direction for A Goofy Movie was handled by Larry Leker and Wendell Luebbe (who I’m guessing also lent his first name to Treeny’s husband), who weren’t exactly looking to Doré and Fragonard given their paltry budget. Still, while the film sticks to television-level scenery for the most part, it does have a few truly excellent moments.

Goofy Movie dream sequence #1Goofy Movie dream sequence #2Goofy Movie dream sequence #3Goofy Movie dream sequence #4Goofy Movie dream sequence #5Goofy Movie dream sequence #6

The dream sequence which opens the film is one of the more visually memorable parts, beginning like a sort of parody of every other such scene where young lovers frolic in a windswept field. Max pushes his way through a cornfield to find Roxanne, clad all in white and perched high atop a pedestal in a wry comment on the way he idolises her before he’s gotten to know her properly. Dream-Roxanne is even more beautiful than the real girl, playfully blowing dandelion clocks at him and floating down into his arms like some ethereal fairy. It’s all wonderfully silly and romantic, but it gets much better when the dream suddenly turns into a nightmare – like a scene from a horror film, Max begins to transform into a new, monstrous creature, while Roxanne screams in terror. It’s the very thing he fears most – he’s become his father! Oh, the horror! Hearing him choke out Goofy’s signature laugh as lightning flashes dramatically behind him always has me in stitches; props to the team for a great opening.

Goofy betrayal imagery #1Goofy betrayal imagery #2Goofy betrayal imagery #3Goofy betrayal imagery #4Goofy betrayal imagery #5Goofy betrayal imagery #6

However, my absolute favourite section of the film from a cinematography standpoint is at the end of the second act, where Goofy finds out about Max’s betrayal. The whole thing is handled so well, from Pete and Goofy’s unusually serious talk in the hot tub to the wordless scene of Goofy getting into the car and struggling with himself, as he wonders whether to check the map or trust his son. Well-chosen camera angles add a lot to the emotional impact of these scenes, with a close-up on Goofy before the big reveal showing us just how conflicted he’s feeling, before the camera cuts to a wide shot of the motel at the moment he finds out the truth, as though removing the audience to give him some privacy. Then we get a lingering look at his crushed expression afterwards, topped off with a rotating dissolve from Goofy laid awake on the bed to driving his car the next day, highlighting the turmoil that’s kept him up all night. Even the scene after this, where he gives Max a “secret test of character” by having him commit to a route on the map, is very dramatically effective.

Stylistically, the film is absolutely soaked in nineties culture, making it deeply nostalgic for those who grew up in the world it depicts. It’s hard to believe in 2019 just how much has changed in twenty-four years; throughout the film, we see characters writing letters, playing tapes, using typewriters and physical maps, encountering nuns everywhere and watching monster truck demolition derbies, referencing MTV and watching videos with cables and cords trailing all over the floor, wearing JNCO jeans, crop tops and Blossom-style hats… It’s like an endless assault of all things nineties, reminding me of Oliver & Company with its similarly eighties aesthetic.

640px-1975_AMC_Pacer_base_model_frontleftsideGoofy's car

Funnily enough, one element which goes against the grain here is Goofy’s car, which was modelled on an AMC Pacer – a specific one, in fact, owned by a chap named Dino Airali who inherited it from his mother – a car that was an icon of the seventies, further illustrating the generational gap between Goofy and his son.

 

Soundtrack

Carter Burwell was the film’s main composer, but he later said, “My score had relied somewhat on unusual instrumentation – banjo, percussion and choir for example – and Disney wanted the sweeping scale and familiar effect of symphonic score.” Thus, after Burwell’s work had been completed with Shirley Walker orchestrating and conducting, Don Davis was brought in to rework certain elements to better fit this cinematic ideal. He ended up credited for providing “additional music” on both the film and its soundtrack album. The main songwriters, meanwhile, were Tom Snow and Jack Feldman, who provided three of the film’s six songs.

The first of these Snow-Feldman numbers is After Today, a jaunty plea for success and popularity sung by Max and his fellow students early in the film. Voice actor Jason Marsden was perfectly capable of singing, but Disney by then were in the practice of hiring an alternate singing voice for many of their characters to get a more Broadway-esque sound, so Aaron Lohr was hired for that purpose (luckily, he happened to be a close friend of Marsden’s, so there were no hard feelings). Bill Farmer, however, was disappointed, because for all Lohr’s talent he just “wasn’t Max” – twenty years later, he and Marsden therefore rectified this once and for all by performing an impromptu duet of On the Open Road at the D23 Expo cast reunion, much to the delight of fans. As for After Today, it’s insanely catchy and filled with witty lyrics, feeling like an affectionate parody of the typical “belting from the bleachers” high school song – it sets up Max’s emotional predicament with a real flair and has been the subject of numerous fan-made “remakes” in recent years.

Then comes Stand Out, which is basically every high schooler’s fantasy come to life. Max uses it to try and get Roxanne’s attention, not realising that she’s already noticed him anyway – in the end, while the concert does gain him the admiration of the student body, all it really does is get him into trouble with Principal Mazur. That, in turn, gets him sucked into the dreaded road trip, so he really needn’t have bothered going to so much trouble! The song itself is a banger (as the kids say), bursting with energy and showcasing Tevin Campbell’s astonishing vocals. Future Disney star Mitchell Musso would go on to cover it for the DisneyMania 7 album in 2010, just one testament to its longevity.

The third number is another Snow-Feldman work, On the Open Road. This comes just after Max and Goofy have inadvertently destroyed their car’s radio by fighting over what to listen to; ever the optimist, Goofy simply launches into this charming little song, where he’s soon joined by a host of other weird motorists. These include nuns and brides, a prisoner, a corpse and even a kidnapped man in the trunk of someone’s car, complete with a “Chicago overcoat.” It’s another toe-tapper featuring a few self-aware lyrical nods to earlier Disney films like Pinocchio and Fun and Fancy Free and is perhaps the most fun to sing along to (since trying to keep up with Tevin Campbell is next to impossible).

Lester’s Possum Park is the film’s gag number and it always gets me laughing; I’m totally with Max when he dubs it “pathetic,” with the whole thing done in a carefully cringey way that makes you wonder if Disney were taking a shot at some of their own parks. (The Country Bear Jamboree is a likely candidate, still found at Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, with the original having closed in 2001). While the other guests – especially Goofy – clap and sing along with glee, Max and the Emcee seem to be the only two in the room who recognise the whole thing for the farce it is. In the long history of teenagers being embarrassed by their parents, this scene is surely the pinnacle, a perfect depiction of all that’s unfair about being an adolescent.

The final Snow-Feldman contribution is the film’s ballad, Nobody Else But You, which resolves the emotional conflict of the story as Max and Goofy finally begin to understand each other. By this point in the trip, the pair seem to be somewhere on the Colorado River, so the scenery is some of the best we get in the whole film as they drift past towering rock formations under clear blue skies. It’s a heartfelt performance which moves me every time, and Bill Farmer somehow manages to carry the tune in Goofy’s drawling voice without making it sound bad, quite an achievement.

Eye to Eye imagery #1Eye to Eye imagery #2Eye to Eye imagery #3Eye to Eye imagery #4Eye to Eye imagery #5Eye to Eye imagery #6

The big finish for the soundtrack is the second Tevin Campbell number, Eye to Eye (or I 2 I), which is performed at the concert that Max so desperately wants to get to. It ties into the theme of the story with its lyrics about finally understanding someone, but it’s also a whole lot of fun! Personally, I’d say this is the best song in the film, an exuberant nineties classic with more killer vocals from Campbell supported by Rosie Gaines, backed by a percussion-heavy rhythm that gets everyone in the film (and the audience) on their feet in no time. It’s another fan favourite when it comes to live-action remakes and covers, ending with a flawless melismatic note and a power pose from Powerline. The song also serves as the film’s end credits song along with a fuller reprise of Stand Out, offering a slight deviation from Disney’s usual “sparkly,” synth-heavy pop ballads.

In addition to the six original numbers, the soundtrack also makes use of the 1959 Frank Sinatra classic High Hopes to highlight the gulf between Goofy’s taste in music and his son’s, and the 1977 Bee Gees hit Stayin’ Alive, which becomes a new favourite of the loveable Bigfoot.

 

Final Verdict

The finished film was dedicated to Pat Buttram, who sadly passed away during production. Originally, the producers were aiming for a November 1994 release date, but the problems of coordinating the overseas production caused some delays which pushed the film’s release into early 1995, leaving the mega-hit The Lion King to fill the gap with another run in theatres just five months after its first. (In a way, A Goofy Movie therefore helped that film to secure its place as the highest-grossing animated film of the day).

When A Goofy Movie finally did premiere, it was at the AMC Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World Resort, with director Kevin Lima and stars Bill Farmer and Jenna von Oÿ in attendance. In 2017, it also had a limited run at the famed El Capitan Theatre, a frequent host of many modern Disney film premieres. According to Farmer, his five-year-old son Austin exited an advanced screening of the film in tears; when he asked what was wrong, his son said, “When Goofy fell off the waterfall, I thought that was you!”

The film was something of a surprise success at the box office in its original run, held back from taking the number one spot only by Will Smith’s blockbuster Bad Boys. Critics, though, had mixed reactions to the film, with many feeling Goofy wasn’t suitable as the protagonist of an entire film. Some disliked that his usual wacky personality had been “subdued,” while others argued that his “bland dismissal” of everything Max says makes him feel “overbearing and selfish.” John Grant said, “Although there are some delightful moments, the entire movie seems more like an extended episode – of a conflation of several episodes – than an independently conceived experience.” Roger Ebert, meanwhile, had his screening interrupted by a technical hitch, but still gave the film three out of four stars (he was later able to attend another screening), saying, “Someday I would like to see a cartoon about the court battle {Goofy} went through to gain custody of Max.”

Of course, as many millennial readers will know, kids of the time generally loved the film for its touching portrayal of father-son relationships, with A Goofy Movie garnering an impressive cult following for itself over the intervening years. In acknowledgment of this, Disney staged a twentieth anniversary cast reunion at the 2015 D23 Expo in Anaheim, with all major cast members except Kellie Martin either in attendance or speaking via direct link. Producer Don Hahn hosted the reunion, which ran for over an hour and concluded with a surprise performance by Tevin Campbell himself – it was a big success, with around a thousand fans there to enjoy it and many more watching uploads of it afterwards. (I’ve linked to a YouTube copy below, it’s worth seeing).

The film had its first VHS release at the end of 1995, before debuting in theatres in the UK in 1996 and getting a subsequent VHS release here in 1997. Another VHS release, along with its DVD debut, came in 2000, and the same year it got a direct-to-video sequel called An Extremely Goofy Movie, which focused on Max’s time at college (it’s quite good – I’ll forever adore the Beret Girl). Although fans of the films had long bemoaned Disney’s failure to give them a proper Blu-ray release, this was rectified just a few months ago with a Disney Movie Club exclusive featuring both films as a combo pack.

 

To summarise, it’s safe to say that I have a lot of fond memories of this one. It might not be technically perfect, but it’s very sweet and far better than it has any right to be, if we’re being honest. I’d recommend it for any fathers out there who want a good film to watch with their sons, but it’s highly enjoyable for the whole family – and you don’t have to be familiar with the TV show to get some fun out of it.

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip back to the nineties! Next week, I’ll be doing some prep, so we’ll be continuing the book review series with the companion to Lilo & Stitch. After that, we’ll close the month with a return to the Disney canon, where we’ll be looking at their most recent instalment Ralph Breaks the Internet – incidentally, this will also be my first time revisiting a film from my First Thoughts reviews. Until next time, take care and staaaay animated!

Stacey talk to me talk to me talk to me baby
“Yo STACEY! Talk to me, talk to me, talk to me baby!”

My Rating – 3/5

 


 

References
I consulted my own books to research for this review, as well as some standard web sources:
Encyclopedia of Walt Disney’s Animated Characters (1998 ed.) by John Grant
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47980785 – credit for poster
By CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz, releases all rights but a photo credit would be appreciated if this image is used anywhere other than Wikipedia. Please leave a note at Wikipedia here. Thank you! – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17778113 – credit for AMC Pacer image
http://www.amcpacer.com/stories/dairali-famous.asp – a fun little story about the real-life AMC Pacer that was used as the model for Goofy’s car
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1RkXekdCHU&t=205s – a short 1995 documentary on the making of the film, presented by Jenna von Oÿ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY7UVqLVg8k – the 2015 reunion panel at the D23 Expo (well worth watching for fans, it’s so much fun to hear the cast reminiscing and to hear how excited the audience are for the film – and there’s a surprise performance at the end!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OABeWNqZph4 – a surprisingly detailed live-action remake of After Today from 2009
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYhvAIEGI_Y – a live-action mashup of songs from the film by Stuart Edge and Peter Hollens
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgEDB7FTh1Y – a Drunk Disney review of the film; love this series, you should check out their other videos!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Goofy_Movie – Wiki page
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113198/ – IMDB profile

7 Replies to “Film Review: A Goofy Movie (1995)”

    1. Do ya neeeed, a break from modern livinnnnn’? Do you looong, to shed your weary load? If your nerves are raw and your brain is fried, just grab a friend and take a ride together, uponnnn the open roooaaad…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This one was a fixture of my childhood; I watched it VHS (featuring the catchy-as-the-plague Parachute Express music video “Dr. Looney’s Remedy” before the feature presentation) more times than I can count. (Interestingly, it was my introduction to the GOOF TROOP universe; years later, I would see a couple of episodes of that show on video.)

    Liked by 1 person

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