Michelle is back with a second contribution in the ‘endearing & underrated’ Disney film series with a movie she convinced me to watch last fall — The Goofy Movie!
Chances are you or someone close to you has never seen A Goofy Movie. Personally, I think that’s a damn shame because to me because it doesn’t get much better than this 1995 film. True to his name, Goofy has been making people laugh since the 1930s (at him, not with him, of course). His exaggerated sight gags coupled with his gullible and slightly below than average intelligence has made him an endearing and lasting character.
As much as I like the explosions, the pratfalls, and the famous holler, I think there is more to Goofy than just the obvious physical gag. But it is precisely this description that makes me wonder about people’s reluctance to see this film. Has Goofy spent too much time playing clumsy second banana to Mickey Mouse that people have just come to expect these antics and nothing more? If I had to say what the best part of this movie was, I wouldn’t say the artfully done shots, the memorable songs, or even the clever hidden Disney touches (although those are all good points!). The best thing about A Goofy Movie is without the restraints of his famous six-minute shorts or even a 30-minute television show, the filmmakers took this simplistic character and turned him into a multi-dimensional personality.
At its core, this film is about the bond between a father and his son. This central theme only serves to humanize Goofy further in my eyes because whether you are the parent trying to make a connection or the kid trying to find your own space or independence, you can find a character to identify with. Goofy is experiencing all the emotions every father with a teenage son is feeling — frustration, hope, anxiety, and of course, love. When he feels like Max is slipping away from him after receiving a distressing phone call from Principal Mazur over a stunt Max pulled (all in the name of love!), Goofy believes it’s time to take charge before Max “ends up in the electric chair.” Goofy is, above all else it seems, a sentimental traditionalist. He fondly remembers the fishing trips he took with his own dad to Lake Destiny and tries to recreate the same thing with Ma -x- only it is glaringly obvious that Max is nothing like Goofy.
Or is he?
The movie opens up with Max dreaming of Roxanne and this reverie soon becomes a nightmare when he transforms into a “hyucking” goof. Immediately, the line between son and father is drawn and Max’s worst fear of becoming his dad is made known to the audience. But is becoming Goofy really so bad? The depth of his character is really what brings me back to this movie time and time again because I’m not ashamed to say that Goofy reminds me a lot of my own dad and I’m sure we could find a little bit of Goofy in all our fathers! “On the Open Road” is such a great musical number because it is the classic child embarrassed by their parent moment. At one point in our lives, we have all been embarrassed to be seen with our parents. They weren’t cool enough, they never said or did the right thing or we simply just preferred to be with our friends. In Max’s case, after he finally got the courage to ask out the girl of his dreams, he finds that his Dad’s surprise attempt at bonding will put those plans on hold.
Goofy: Me and Max relaxing like the old days.
Max: This is worse than dragon breath and acne.
Goofy: In a buddy-buddy kind of mode.
Max: I’m so mad I think I may explode.
Goofy: When I see that highway I could cry.
Max: You know that’s funny so could I
Both: Just being out on the open road.
The filmmakers pulled off this extremely relatable storyline with such humor and heart.
And speaking of humor, Goofy and Max’s adventures are the source of much of movie’s comedic moments. I like how the film has a perfect balance between moments of hilarity and quiet moments of tenderness. This is perfectly exemplified in one of my favorite scenes: Bigfoot attacking the camp as they practice their fishing techniques. They find themselves trapped in their car for hours, forced to watch this creature rummage through their stuff, as well as being the audience for his sock puppet show and “Staying Alive” dance party. There is a sweet moment when Goofy reminisces about Max’s favorite soup as a kid and how he used to move the letters to make up words like ‘Hi Dad’ or ‘I Love You’. The sentiment makes both father and son a little uncomfortable and you can tell it’s probably been awhile since Max has said that to his dad. This incident begins the montage of activities where both father and son begin to find the balance between acknowledging each other’s differences and appreciating what makes them such a great team.
When forced to have an honest conversation about their situation (that funny enough involves sitting on their floating car down some water rapids) their true feelings finally come to light.
Goofy: I was only trying to take my boy fishing, okay?
Max: I’m NOT your little boy anymore, Dad, I’m grown up. I’ve got my own life now!
Goofy: I know that! I just wanted to be part of it. You’re my son, Max, no matter how big you get, you’ll always be my son.
Confession time: I cry everytime I see that part. To me, these few lines best summarize what this film is really all about. Gone are the days when Goofy served as the easy laugh. He now represents every parent sitting in that movie theater with their child, trying to relate or perhaps hold onto their kid for a little while longer before puberty sets in. Sure, he could still make people laugh with his exploding car and signature holler, but before you write Goofy off as a mere sight gag, I challenge you to watch this film and see how he can transform in your eyes.
In the end, Goofy and Max are able to find their common ground and Goofy comes through for his son in a very big way. (No spoilers here! Go see the movie!) When reunited with Roxanne, Max finds out that the very thing he feared in the beginning, becoming his father, is actually one of the characteristics she loved about him.
Roxanne: I already liked you, Max. From the very first time I heard you laugh, A-hyuck.
The story comes full circle and that my friends, if done right, is what makes any movie fuckin fantastic. Never underestimate the power of the Goof.
The music is another huge reason why this movie is amazing. There were a few different writers for the songs and it’s evident since the compilation of music is so different. The songs sung by Powerline were written by Patrick DeRemer and Roy Freeland. These songs are almost always on every Disney playlist I make and that is because they are catchy and perfect music to dance to. The more traditional Disneyesque songs such as “On the Open Road” and “After Today” were written by Tom Snow and Jack Feldman (who worked on a little movie called, Newsies). Although being drastically different in sound, they are in no way less fun. In fact, have you seen the live action version of ‘After Today’? It’s quite amazing.
Leaving the best part for last, I seriously cry with laughter every time I see the animatronic possums from Lester’s Possum Park. Mirrored as a run down, pathetic version of what I assume is Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree, this parody actually makes me stop to think sometimes. Goofy and Max put on possum hats and walk around a park where a guy in a big possum costume takes pictures with kids and asks, “Who’s your favorite possum?” We laugh at the ridiculousness of this scene in the movie, but as a frequent WDW goer, how far are we from a talking Mickey who asks kids, “Who’s your favorite mouse?”