When I watch The Goofy Movie, I become Anton Ego from Ratatouille after he takes that first bite — a crotchety old man brought back to his childhood with some “peasant food.”
If a scientist attempted to engineer a film that tickled more of my pleasure centers, they wouldn’t be too far off with A Goofy Movie.
First, it’s a nostalgia overload: the first movie I remember seeing in theaters; a movie about parental tensions and crushes when I was first becoming aware of such things. The comic set pieces demolished me into uncontrollable cackling when I was seven, and some of them still do.
It’s an animated musical and (sort of) a teen comedy, probably my top two “will watch and enjoy any film, regardless of quality” genres.
There are other factors, too, that resonate with me: wish fulfillment for an unpopular boy, projecting pop music on your personality and emotions, blending of shenanigans both dopey and earnest.
It’s stuck with me as I’ve gotten older, too. Goofy and Max both get excellent characterization, both flawed but relatable. The music, while not on the level of the soundtracks of the best Disney masterpieces of the era, is still excellent: Both the Broadway-style numbers and the pop tunes are well-written and amplify the movie’s themes. (I suppose I could have used one more tune in the film’s second half.)
One anecdote I like to share is that this soundtrack is one of the only albums I’ve ever coveted. It almost makes me miss the pre-streaming days. I hunted thrift store collections and eBay for years to find an affordable copy, but it never dropped below $50, a fortune for a teenager without disposable income. Then iTunes $0.99 tracks came along (not to mention Napster) and all it took was a few dollars and a CD-R.
The animation is fairly low-budget, and it shows on rewatches: look beyond whatever the frame’s central focus is and you’ll find lots of dead, still patches. But the movie wrings the most out of its limited budget due to clever camera manipulation (great use of close-ups) and economical animation of key expressive features (e.g. faces).
There’s a fairly new factor for me, too. I’m a dad. A Goofy Movie socks me in the jaw from the flip perspective of the one I had as a kid: Goofy’s struggle with fatherhood, contrasted against Pete’s cocksure approach, is really thoughtful and emotional.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to take off the rose-tinted glasses. I’m tempted to bump it down a rating or two, because, yeah, it’s extremely ’90s and not a technical powerhouse.
But if I must accurately reflect my emotional reaction and personal esteem for the film (and I must), then Masterpiece it is.
- Review Project: 2009 Top 100