Film: The Great Mouse Detective

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The Great Mouse Detective

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker, David Michener, Burny Mattinson
Distributor: Walt Disney Video

The clues are in, the chase is on, and the case of the century is about to break wide open in Disney’s greatest little mystery in history! Let the creators of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid take you on an adventuresome journey through the cobblestone streets of 1897 London, where some suspicious “mousechief” is the suspenseful start to this thrilling musical adventure. Olivia, the brave daughter of a beloved London toymaker, turns to Basil of Baker Street for help with her father’s disappearance. Basil’s jolly assistant, Dr. Dawson, and loyal dog Toby lend a hand…and nose…as they sniff out clues through their charming miniature world. The final chase leads to Professor Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price), a hard-hearted criminal whom Basil must outwit to save all of Mousedom! Now digitally remastered, fully restored and full of unforgettable characters and spectacular animation—all leading to a climactic climb atop Big Ben—it’s elementary who you’ll want to watch again and again…The Great Mouse Detective!


Just because Walt Disney created contemporary and traditional classics of animation doesn’t mean the studio is out of ideas—not by a long shot. The Great Mouse Detective is richly animated and offers a clever tale. It may not be as easily recognized a title as Aladdin or The Little Mermaid, but all three share the same director, Ron Clements. Originally released theatrically in 1986, the mystery borrows easily from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and is based on Eve Titus’s book Basil of Baker Street.

When a brilliant toymaker is kidnapped by a creepy peg-legged bat, his daughter, Olivia, enlists the aid of the legendary Basil. Basil, Olivia, and Basil’s assistant, Dr. Dawson, are part of an intricate city system of Victorian-era London mice. Basil quickly realizes his archenemy, Professor Ratigan (a rat who wants to be a mouse), is behind the abduction. Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price) fiendishly aspires to take over London rodents—and will stop at nothing to achieve his greatest desire. The unlikely trio of good guys become heroes, of course. The engaging story line is a perfect introduction to Doyle’s work and mysteries in general. Look for a very cleverly executed voice-cameo by Basil Rathbone (as Sherlock Holmes, natch). Alan Young (Mr. Ed) also provides a voice. Ages 4 and up. —N.F. Mendoza

Barnes and Noble

One of Disney’s best animated features of the 1980s is poised for a welcome rediscovery on VHS and an extras-laden DVD. The Great Mouse Detective is based on Eve Titus’s book Basil of Baker Street, about a Victorian-era rodent of Holmesian (as in Sherlock) cunning. When a toymaker (voiced by Mr. Ed’s Alan Young) is kidnapped, his daughter enlists the deerstalker-topped rodent to solve the case. The legendary Vincent Price supplies the voice for one of Disney’s most memorable villains, the aptly named Ratigan, or as he refers to himself in song, “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind.” With its ambitious use of computer animation, Mouse Detective helped to usher in a new age of Disney animation. The film’s thrilling set piece is a climactic confrontation inside the turning gears and cogs of London’s Big Ben. The film was co-directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who would later collaborate on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, and Treasure Planet. Will children sit for this film’s more old-fashioned pleasures? It’s elementary! Donald Liebenson

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