The Disney machine has, on one occasion or another, spotlighted almost all of its better-known animated characters on film.
Mickey Mouse and Pluto, Donald Duck and Goofy, all have starred both in cartoon shorts and longer animated features. Many of the more classic moments date back to the 1950s, although the studio - following the trends set in its world-famous theme parks - has recently tried to change with the times.
A case in point: “The Goofy Movie,” an animated feature that pairs the appropriately named friend of Mickey’s with his 1990s son.
A tale of communication (or lack thereof), the various themes explored by the film include parental embarrassment, young love, peer pressure and loyalty. Naturally, this being Disney, all ends well.
And while that is nothing to criticize without reason, it remains the film’s biggest problem. Obviously, nothing bad is going to happen, no matter how much trouble Goofy and his son get into.
What’s worse, though, is that the film misses the rough spirit of comedy that used to be so much a part of the Goofy adventures when his character was occasionally featured on “The Wonderful World of Disney” (as a crazy driver, etc.).
In its place, the new Disney puts musical numbers that reflect the Andrew Lloyd Webber style of composition - Broadway show tunes that end up being paens to growing up and the difficulty of dealing with problem teens.
When Broadway is used to boost something with classic appeal such as “Beauty and the Beast,” the result is appropriately serious-funny. When such music is applied to what is, at heart, a cartoon, the result feels disproportionate.
Kiss of Death
Barbet Schroder has earned a reputation for Hollywood slickness in the face of gross effects.
In “Barfly,” he pulled a decent performance out of Mickey Rourke in the Charles Bukowski roman a clef about a down-and-out drunk. In “Single White Female,” he used the talents of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda to lend a plausible feel to a tired genre (the psycho killer with a friendly face).
Here, only a weak ending limits the effect of this film-noir remake, which features David Caruso (“NYPD Blue”) as an ex-car thief trying to go straight who keeps falling prey to his own good nature and bad friends.
Schroeder does a good job of updating the 1940s sensibilities, and a whole collection of supporting performers - Stanley Tucci, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rappaport, Helen Hunt - do a credible job. But it is Nicolas Cage as the crazy mobster Little Junior who grabs the picture frame and holds it throughout.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW In the stores now: “The Goofy Movie” (Disney), “Kiss of Death” (Fox), “Where Evil Lies” (New Horizons), “Midnight Confessions” (Triboro). Available on Tuesday: “Pulp Fiction” (Miramax), Major Payne” (MCA/Universal), “Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest” (Dimension).