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‘Goofy’ Tries For Broad Audience, But Grasps Hardly Anyone

Fri., April 7, 1995

It’s not easy having a dad who’s a cartoon.

That’s the premise of the “A Goofy Movie,” a gently amusing comedy that never quite figures out who its audience is. From the folks at Disney (but not even close to their “The Lion King” standard of visual quality), the movie makes Goofy a father whose son, Max, is just discovering how cool girls are and how gross parents are.

Since Goofy spends lots of time laughing that annoying Gomer Pyle laugh and getting into dangerous scrapes, you can relate. Goofy’s a fairly indistinct character, but he’s funny enough, he has a couple of tuneful songs, and one or two of the animated gags - like a Winnebago that unfolds to contain a whirlpool, a gym and a bowling alley - are clever.

That silliness aside, “A Goofy Movie” has more serious matters on its goofy mind. It does a good, “Afterschool Special”-ish job of capturing the alienation a teenager may feel toward his parents. But are the young children who will go to “A Goofy Movie” really interested in a preview of the angst they’ll feel a few years down the road?

In a weird way, “A Goofy Movie” seems to be for adults, who will feel Goofy’s pain (although I don’t know too many adults who are going to want to identify with a creature whose species is debatable). Goofy is faced with real parental questions: Is it better to be too strict or too lenient? Which is more important - your kids’ love or their respect?

If all of that sounds a little too much like “On the next Oprah …,” then you’ve figured out the movie’s strange dilemma. Recent Disney animated movies have succeeded because of a keen understanding of their audience, but “A Goofy Movie” straddles all the Disney demographics without appealing to any of them. Another sign of the moviemakers’ confusion: Goofy helps Max get a backstage pass to see his favorite rock star, an animated character who is clearly modeled on Michael Jackson. Is Jackson really the sort of person a parent - even one named Goofy - wants to be introducing to his preadolescent son?

xxxx “A Goofy Movie” Credits: Directed by Kevin Lima, starring Goofy Running time: 95 minutes Rating: G

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