Great Mouse Detective [1986]

Just because Walt Disney created contemporary and traditional classics of animation doesn't mean the studio is out of ideas--not by a long shot. The Great Mouse Detective is richly animated and offers a clever tale. It may not be as easily recognized a title as Aladdin or The Little Mermaid, but all three share the same director, Ron Clements. Originally released theatrically in 1986, the mystery borrows easily from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and is based on Eve Titus's book Basil of Baker Street. When a brilliant toymaker is kidnapped by a creepy peg-legged bat, his daughter, Olivia, enlists the aid of the legendary Basil. Basil, Olivia, and Basil's assistant, Dr. Dawson, are part of an intricate city system of Victorian-era London mice. Basil quickly realizes his archenemy, Professor Ratigan (a rat who wants to be a mouse), is behind the abduction. Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price) fiendishly aspires to take over London rodents--and will stop at nothing to achieve his greatest desire. The unlikely trio of good guys become heroes, of course. The engaging story line is a perfect introduction to Doyle's work and mysteries in general. Look for a very cleverly executed voice-cameo by Basil Rathbone (as Sherlock Holmes, natch). Alan Young (Mr. Ed) also provides a voice. Ages 4 and up. --N.F. Mendoza

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