Directed By: Kevin Lima Released: April 7, 1995
It’s a line as old as time itself. Disney helped create my childhood. How many can say that a film, or multiple films, from the Disney library helped form fond childhood memories. For myself, The Goofy Movie taps deep into the recesses of my mind and brings me back to the days where I’d pull the crisp VHS from the shelf and put on the TV. Now I will admit that its sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie, was played far more often at my house, but I’ll get to that review later. I wanted to tap back into those memories and ask the important question, is this film from my youthful days as good as younger me thought? Or has nostalgia glasses blinded me from the truth? There’s only one He-ucking way to find out.
This is the first film to star the legendary character of Goofy (Bill Farmer)…which I guess is just his name. Max’s last name is clearly just “Goof” with no “y” so I always wondered if his father has a first name. Maybe a more intelligent Disney fan knows this answer. While this is his first outing as the star of a film, you can’t actually say he is the main protagonist. Max (Jason Marsden) is the one we follow, as he nervously stumbles his way during the last day of school to finally impress his crush, Roxanne (Kellie Martin). Just as he succeeds in asking her out and she says yes, his father decides to whisk him away on a cross-country road trip. Thus the buddy road trip begins with a son who doesn’t want to go and a father who is just glad to spend time with his son.
For a major picture staring our lovable Goof, the message presented is the idea of miscommunication. Max won’t tell his father how he really feels, or that Goofy won’t just ask his son up front. Not that he doesn’t want to, just that he is too clumsy to realize he should. That’s what took me by surprise throughout the movie is how body language plays a huge part. Goofy constantly refers back to his list of what he used to do with his father on the road trip, believing that what worked in the past will work now that he is a father. While Mas is always turned away from his dad, not wanting to be seen with him.
While this is a family road trip film, it does have a hidden antagonist in the cast. Not in the traditional sense, they are not actively going against our protagonists. But Pete (the legendary Jim Cummings) goes against how Goofy fathers his son and is the one to suggest that he shouldn’t trust his son. Pete brings a state of the art RV that even cuts trees down to make room, while Goofy is trying his hardest to preserve nature and show his son the wonders of the great outdoors. Goofy wants to give full trust to his son, he believes that it can bring them closer together. Pete outright tells his friend that control is the only way to father a child. Now that isn’t to say Pete is trying to be mischievous or mean spirited. He legitimately believes that is how you should raise a child, and while P.J does address that his father is strict he also is just as kind-hearted as Max is. When you reflect on the history of the character of Pete, this role he takes is perfectly in line with who he stands for in the Disney world. Here he is even portrayed far more kindly while still taking the role of the antagonist.
One aspect of the film that I always forget is that this is actually a musical. It’s not very foundational to the film itself, I’d say more than half of the songs are very forgettable and seem out of place in the narrative. This is probably why the sequel ditches the musical numbers for a more streamlined story. That isn’t to say the songs aren’t at least good for their placement in the story. “Nobody Else But You” is actually a great ballad where, through the course of the song, the two open up to each other and are able to finally have a real conversation. The forced proximity allows father and son to finally say what they need to. And honestly we all remember the film for its epic finale with Powerline and the two Goofs rocking the stage. But quite honestly every other song feels forced into the movie just to say it was a musical.
This is the perfect time to talk about this famous scene. Easily the most memorable part of the film. With insane neon lights, fast editing and an honestly fire song to boot, this climax to The Goofy Movie is electric. What I forget is how poorly implemented and forced it is. The first two acts of the film is a well paced and thought out look at how a father and son open up to each other and learn that they can work together. Right after this lesson is learned, they…end up in suitcases on the bands truck. That is the scene, they somehow make it to LA and carry out this elaborate plan and it works. Done, that’s the third act. It feels so rushed, as though the writing team knew this was going to be the finale, making it the end goal for the pair, but once they had the carefully planned out the narrative, they realized they had only ten minutes left for the film and rushed it so they can get those money shots. I’m not complaining…too loudly. Even the final scene where Max confesses to Roxanne doesn’t quite feel satisfying enough. After a movie where Max lies to everyone, sure he does confess his wrongs but he still did exactly what he wanted to do. I almost wish I could have a more emotional send off. Still, it’s cute.
Alright, I’ll talk about Roxanne. Not because you’re forcing me to, but because I want to. Who exactly designed this character? It’s not just that she is one of the cutest characters put to a Disney film. That’s just one part of it. She acts like a girl with a crush, but that all the boys ask her out and fawn over her so she’s shy. Anything said to her is immediately spread across the school, P.J knows about Max asking her out what seems like moments after he did it. Just by looking at her posture you can tell shes infatuated with Max, and only him. She recognizes him as the one crashing the end of school speech. She doesn’t hear a word that Stacy (Jenna von Oy) says when she sees Max in the principals office. I rarely see a female portrayed as the one who is infatuated with the main character, and Roxanne is the perfect portrayal of how do it right. She feels natural in how she talks to everyone and even the small glimpses into her home life, with her intense father, help explain what kind of person she is. If we were just given more time to sees these two together, it might have been a heartwarming story about them coming together over the summer. That’s a what if film for another day.
I don’t think I’ve seen A Goofy Movie since I was a kid. I know I never upgraded it from the VHS. It isn’t quite up there with the Disney greats…but it does have a layer of heart that is undeniable. The first two acts are a great look into a father-son relationship that has room to grow but showcases what lengths Goofy will take to make sure his son grows up well. It has one of the best character designs in the Disney catalog (I’m not taking any questions) and for being his screen debut Max is remembered for being such a great example of a relatable son. While I think the musical numbers don’t add to the experience, the only downside to the film as a whole is how rushed the third act is. If somewhere down the line of production it had been smoothed out and had a more coherent transition this might have been one of the best side adventures the Disney team ever released. As it is now, The Goofy Movie does hold up without the rose-tinted glasses of my childhood.
What are your thoughts? When was the last time you’ve seen The Goofy Movie? If you’ve seen it recently, or inspired to watch it after this review, do you think it’s as good as you remember? Or are you going to watch it for the first time? Love to hear what you all think.