Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: A Goofy Movie: Gold Collection (1995)
Studio Line: Disney - It's hard to be cool, when your dad's Goofy.

Disney's legendary comedian stars in his very first full-length motion picture, A Goofy Movie, packed with so much outrageous fun and adventure, it inspired the hilarious sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie!

This rockin' and rollin' modern-day story finds the lovable Goofy bonding with his teenage son Max on a cross-country road trip. But en route to the ol' fishing hole, they find themselves up to their floppy ears in misadventure! Will Max learn there's nothing wrong with taking after dear old dad…even if he is a little goofy? The question is answered in the showstopping finale when Max and Goofy "crash the stage" at the wildest rock concert ever!

Filled with action-packed comedy, narrow escapes -- even a dangerously close encounter with Bigfoot -- Disney's critically acclaimed hit comedy is a delightful adventure your family will love taking again and again!

Director: Kevin Lima
Cast: Bill Farmer-Goofy, Jason Marsden-Max, Jim Cummings-Pete, Kellie Martin-Roxanne, Rob Paulsen-PJ, Wallace Shawn-Principal Mazur, Jenna von Oy-Stacey, Frank Welker-Bigfoot, Kevin Lima-Lester.
Academy Awards: None.
DVD: Standard 1.33:1; audio English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround; subtitles Spanish; closed-captioned; single side - dual layer; 20 chapters; rated G; 78 min.; $29.99; street date 6/20/00.
Supplements: "Calling All Goofs" Cartoon; "A Goofy Success Story" Cartoon; A Goofy Movie DVD Storybook; A Goofy Movie Trivia Game; Theatrical Trailer
Purchase: DVD

Picture/Sound/Extras: B+/B+/B+

When is a movie not a movie? When it comes from Disney, I guess.

Trying to make sense of what the Mouse considers their "official" animated films can be confounding. When they release a new cartoon, they often call it "Disney's 38th (or whatever) animated classic", but this figure omits quite a few films for different reasons. Many Disney fans keep track of the list and debate the inclusion or exclusion of various titles.

Some cases against inclusion are better than others. Although the two Toy Story movies were released by Disney, they were produced by Pixar, so I can't argue too loudly against them. A similar case can be made for The Nightmare Before Christmas - especially since it was formally released by Touchstone, a Disney subsidiary - and James and the Giant Peach, though the latter came out under the formal auspices of Walt Disney Pictures.

All the aforementioned films also share this common trait: none of them are traditional cel animated movies. The Pixar flicks are computer generated, and both TNBC and JATGP were stop-motion. As such, while I think they should be considered "official" Disney animated films - especially since all four are very high quality efforts - the argument can be made for their exclusion based on those grounds.

But what about Disney's "other" animated movies? I understand the absence of films that went straight to video - like Lion King II - but the omissions don't stop there. A slew of cartoons that were released theatrically through the studio don't make the official tally, and the reasoning behind their exclusion seems confused.

One of Disney's newest DVDs falls into this category: their 1995 release, A Goofy Movie. As with all of the "classic" films on the list, it was animated via traditional cel techniques, yet it - and counterparts like its sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie and The Tigger Movie - doesn't appear on the official list. What gives?

Apparently, Disney don't want to include these movies because they were cheaply-made affairs that were produced by the studio's television animation department. I guess the results aren't considered up to Disney's standards, so that means they "don't count". Based on those grounds, movies like The Rescuers shouldn't count either, but I can see their point, especially when confronted by films like An Extremely Goofy Movie; I wouldn't want that dog commingling with jewels like Pinocchio or Lady and the Tramp either.

A Goofy Movie doesn't deserve to reside in such company, but it seemed surprisingly entertaining. As I noted in my review of its sequel, I don't care for the whole concept of Goofy's son Max. He seems like a lame attempt to make Disney cartoons "hip" and the artificial "coolness" of these projects comes across as forced.

Without question, the weakest aspects of AGM relate to this pseudo-cleverness. The film abounds with faux-"modern" characters - like Michael Jackson-esque pop star "Powerline", who would have seemed out-of-date even in 1995 - and also revels in cutesy "in-jokes" like Max's Mickey Mouse phone and a couple of mentions of Walt Disney. That kind of "removal of the fourth wall" worked in movies like Aladdin or Hercules but AGM lacks the spark and spirit to carry off these attempts and the moves fall flat. One scene in AGM even dares to indirectly mock Walt Disney World's "Country Bear Jamboree", and this lampooning just doesn't mesh.

The allegedly-comic aspects of crudeness like a reference to "Carl's Butt Caverns" seems out of place in a Disney flick as well. Although I'd guess the preteen set probably thought it was pretty funny, I felt it went in a direction inappropriate for Disney animation.

Actually, I found little of AGM's stabs at humor to be amusing. One scene in which a sleeping Goof wakes up and bizarrely asks Max how many cups of sugar one needs to go to the moon made me chuckle, but that was it. However, the fact that a 33-year-old man didn't find a movie aimed at 10-year-olds to be funny shouldn't come as a surprise, and I won't belabor the point. Happily, much of AGM does go in a positive direction, and though it didn't inspire any laughter from me, I thought it provided a fairly entertaining experience nonetheless.

AGM takes on the tried and true issue of "puppy love" (literally) and does so in a charming manner. It also develops a surprisingly natural relationship between the Goof and Max in which their mutual affections and irritations seem logical and realistic, even taking into account the cartoon nature of the project.

It's those aspects of AGM that give it some heart and make it entertaining. The sequel attempted to mine similar territory but didn't succeed. Much of the progression of the father/son relationship proceeds predictably - anyone who doesn't think they'll be good pals by the end of the movie has either an age or an IQ in single digits - but the journey itself seems pretty compelling, especially in scenes like the charming "Hi Dad" soup bit.

A Goofy Movie isn't a great Disney film, but it seems much more entertaining and charming than I expect from these "non-classic" efforts. The picture is little more than a glorified episode of the Goof Troop TV show, but it's a fun piece nonetheless. I never thought I'd enjoy something that features Max and the hipster world on "modern Goofy", but I had a good time as I watched this film.

The DVD:

A Goofy Movie appears in a fullscreen aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to the dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Discs like AGM remind me why Disney frustrate so many people. On one hand, they made this a dual-layered DVD, something that should allow for higher bit rates and an improved picture since a short film like this could easily fit on one layer; it definitely doesn't require the extra space. (Disney are very inconsistent in this regard; although virtually all of their animated releases are about the same length, there's no rhyme or reason I can detect behind which ones are dual-layered or which ones use only a single-layer.)

On the other hand, however, they don't present AGM in its original theatrical aspect ratio of about 1.85:1. Why? I have no idea. A prior laserdisc release came in the correct dimensions, so this decision makes little sense. Some folks figure that a lot of animated films appear in fullscreen ratios since they're aimed at kids, and I might accept that logic if it were utilized consistently. However, most of Disney's animated movies use the correct aspect ratios, with only a few confusing exceptions such as 101 Dalmatians and The Fox and the Hound.

For those cases, it never has seemed completely if the films were pan and scan jobs or if the animation came from an "open matte" transfer, which means that we see additional information at the top and bottom of the frame but lose nothing from the sides. I'm usually pretty good about noting when framing seems more cramped than usual, and I found that I noticed no evidence that these sorts of problems existed with most of the fullframe Disney animated titles.

However, that's definitely not the case with AGM. There's no question whatsoever that the sides of this image are cropped. Many scenes appear a bit "claustrophobic", and some outright chop off the edges of the frame. For example, check out chapter 7 during the big musical number; we clearly lose the information on the far right and left of the TV. The cropping isn't outrageous, but it seems genuinely odd and unnecessary, especially since the earlier LD of AGM was letterboxed.

In any case, A Goofy Movie's here, the aspect ratio's queer - get used to it. Other than the altered framing, the movie looks quite good. Sharpness seems eminently crisp and concise throughout the film, with virtually no signs of soft or hazy images. A few jagged edges result from this, but not many, and moiré effects appeared absent. The print suffers from some moderate grain at times. Actually, grain can be tough to differentiate in animated films because the texture of the artwork often makes it look as though there's grain when none occurs. Nonetheless, I feel pretty confident that what I witnessed was true grain, not paint texture. Other than that, the print appears fairly clean; I saw one or two black speckles but noticed no hairs, scratches, nicks or other flaws.

Colors look nicely bright and boldly "cartoony". The hues appear appropriately saturated and are pleasantly basic and fun. Black levels seem quite deep and rich, and shadow detail looks very clear and sensibly opaque. Essentially, A Goofy Movie loses points for the occasional grain and for the incorrect aspect ratio; other than that, however, it's really a quite strong image.

Although I was surprised to find only a Dolby Surround soundtrack on this DVD, since I really expect Dolby Digital 5.1 from a 1995 release. However, it appears that AGM never appeared in 5.1; the end credits state that it was a "Dolby SR" picture, and the prior LD only offered Dolby Surround, so I guess the audio here remains true to the original product.

Though the added dimension of 5.1 would have helped, this nonetheless seems like a pretty good Dolby Surround mix. The forward soundstage clearly dominates the proceedings and it usually provides a nicely broad and varied audio image. Sounds are generally well-placed in the environment and they pan smoothly between channels. A few exceptions exist, however, such as one scene in which studio photographers Goofy and Pete tussle with a toddler; the girl swings around and the audio should have flung her from speaker to speaker, but the imaging oddly sticks right to the center. Surround usage largely does nothing more than bolster the audio from the front speakers; as such, it adequately reinforces the main sound but does nothing more than that.

The quality of the audio is probably the best thing about this soundtrack, as it provides consistently crisp and sharp sound. Dialogue always seems quite clear and natural, with no issues related to intelligibility; obviously all of the audio is dubbed, but the speech integrates well with the cartoon action. Effects are clean and distinct with no signs of distortion, and they occasionally provide some nice low end, though this aspect appears inconsistent; some effects that should really "thud" appear a bit flat. Music seems bright and well-defined and also includes some very nice bass. A Goofy Movie lost most of its points due to the lack of 5.1 audio and because of the somewhat bland use of the surrounds, but it still rates a solid "B+".

Remember earlier in this review when I indicated the confusion I felt over Disney's inconsistent use of single-layer or dual-layered DVDs? I now understand why AGM is double-layered; it had to be to contain all of the supplements. Of all the DVDs in Disney's "Gold Classic Collection" to date, A Goofy Movie easily contains the strongest features. That comes largely because of the inclusion of one killer extra: an entire episode of Walt Disney's TV show from 1965.

This appears in the form of "A Goofy Success Story: A Vintage Look At How Goofy Became A Star". This 48 minute show frames four different Goofy short cartoons - "Moving Day" (1936), "Moose Hunters" (1937), "How to Ride A Horse" (1941), and either "Goofy's Freeway Trouble" or "Freewayphobia No. 1" (both 1965) - with "new" (as of 1965) segments of Goofy as he was "discovered" and made into a star. It's a fun program, and each of the shorts is pretty good, though I prefer the first two if just because they also include Mickey and Donald. (The Mouse is okay, but I adore the Duck, so his presence is quite welcome.) The appearance of this program is very welcome and it greatly adds to the value of this DVD.

AGM also features a second cartoon, a modern piece that stars both Goofy and Max. "Calling All Goofs" runs 21 minutes and 45 seconds and is watchable, though it's left in the dust by the much stronger efforts found in the prior program. However, make sure you observe that running time. What I initially believed would be a seven-minute or so short turns out to be (apparently) an entire episode of Goof Troop! Two full TV programs included as extras on a DVD? Since when did Disney get so generous?!

A few other "Gold Classic Collection" staples round out the package. We find the film's theatrical trailer plus a "Read-Along Storybook" that reiterates the plot for the kiddies as they follow the text. The terrible music video for miserable soon-to-be-forgotten-one-hit-wonder Lou Bega's pathetic "Disney Mambo No. 5" appears (as it also does on Fun and Fancy Free, where it seems rather incongruous). Finally, we discover a 16-question trivia game that asks some pretty basic questions about the movie. It ain't the Collector's Editions of A Bug's Life or Tarzan, but it's clearly the strongest package yet assembled as a "GCC" title.

AGM continues the questionable trend we now find on most Disney DVDs: a slew of advertisements that appear prior to the main menu. The DVD starts with the usual copyright warning, and then it launches immediately into an announcer with his usual "Coming soon to own on video and DVD..." line. We find ads for the Disney Gold Classic Collection as a whole plus promos for The Little Mermaid II, The Tigger Movie and Toy Story 2. I don't particularly mind these ads; they offer some potentially interesting information and my Panasonic players allow me to quickly and easily skip them through the "chapter skip" button.

However, many others detest these trailers; some feel that way just due to the principle of the thing, whereas others have had a trouble bypassing the commercials as easily as I could do so. It appears some DVD players have more difficulty with them than others, though I haven't heard of any concrete trends that indicate any particular models that all refuse to advance. Whether these ads are a serious negative or just a mild nuisance is up to you, but be warned that they're there. At this point, I've started to hate the stupid things just because so many of the DVDs have the same ads; this is almost the same lineup we saw almost three months ago on The Aristocats, and it's varied little since then. C'mon, folks - shake up the roster a bit!

A more positive feature appears on this and other Disney "Gold Classic Collection" DVDs. According to Disney, they're supporting the DVD with a 30-day money-back guarantee; if you don't like the DVD for any reason, they'll refund your cost. I have no idea how easy or difficult it'll be to do so, but I thought this made for a nice gesture.

Some drawbacks to that offer exist. For one, there's a limit of $23.49 that you can receive, so if you paid more than that, you're out of luck. Also, the forms indicate that "store cash register receipts must emanate from the same state as the consumer address." That's nuts! That excludes most of the folks who buy their DVDs online - which probably was the intention - but also may affect those who live in areas that intersect closely. For example, I live in Virginia but I work in Maryland, which is all of five miles from my apartment. If I stop by a store on the way home from work and grab a Disney title there, I'm out of luck in regard to this plan because I don't live in Maryland. What difference does it make in which state the person bought the DVD? As long as the receipt backs up the purchase, it shouldn't matter. Why complicate something intended as a public relations gesture?

An (apparently) more clear-cut positive comes from a $5 rebate that previous owners of AGM can receive if they buy this DVD. If you send in your receipt and proof of purchase for the DVD with the proof of purchase from your prior copy of the film plus the certificate that comes with the DVD, you can then get $5 back from Disney.

A Goofy Movie will never be mistaken for one of Disney's legendary animated titles, and it's largely a pretty piffling product. Nonetheless, I found it to offer a fairly pleasant and enjoyable little experience; it tries too hard to be hip, but it provides enough charm and warmth to make it worth a watch. The DVD itself loses points because it's not presented in its original aspect ratio, but the image otherwise looks quite good, and the audio seems strong as well. Also fine are the supplemental features, which include much more than we've been conditioned to expect from Disney's "Gold Classic Collection" releases.

A Goofy Movie isn't a great feature from Disney, but it's fairly entertaining, and the addition of a terrific "vintage" Disney TV show elevates the whole package to a new level. Based on the moderately fun movie itself, I planned to recommend A Goofy Movie as a rental, but the strong supplemental features changes that. The extras turn this DVD into a "must-have" for die-hard fans of Disney animation, and others with a more subdued interest in the subject also should find this package worthwhile.

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