Although beloved by many in their past because of the iconic characters of Goofy and Max, A Goofy Movie is not typically revered in the same way as other Disney musicals.
I have a hard time believing that the film came out a quarter-century ago, but after a recent re-watch, this film stands the test of time. It should be heralded as not only a great musical but one of Disney’s classics from the 20th Century (no pun intended).
A Goofy Movie, released in April 1995, stars Bill Farmer in the legendary role of Goofy, Jason Marsden, Wallace Shawn, Jim Cummings, Kellie Martin, Rob Paulsen and, although uncredited for some strange reason, Pauly Shore. The cast does a wonderful job of creating empathy and relatability for each character – even the ones you feel like you shouldn’t root for.
Director Kevin Lima, who also has a cameo voice in the film, brings forth the magic and quality storytelling that he delivered with his previous hits, Tarzan and Aladdin. The writer of the film, Jymn Magon, mostly known for his time as a writer on DuckTales, crafted his magnum opus in atypical Hi Dad Soup fashion.
The film also creates an atmosphere that is similar to our own, yet still fantastical enough to transport us into a new world of Goofy. That is the trademark of a great animated film.
The synopsis reads as follows on IMDB: “When Max makes a preposterous promise to a girl he has a crush on, his chances to fulfilling it seem hopeless when he is dragged onto a cross-country trip with his embarrassing father, Goofy.”
The story itself has such an intriguing premise that absolutely delivers. It does not just rely on formulaic one-liners and common tropes of the animated film genre. The film delves into emotionality within its father-son relationship dynamics on a level that only Pixar films have since rivalled in the genre. The movie as a whole takes common tropes, like the popular, attractive “girl next door” idea, and make them wholly original and believable in a goofy world. This is irony working at its finest.
It only helps that the movie is filled with Easter eggs and references, some of which are older Disney films and characters. For all those Grease fans out there, you might spot a recognizable one in the film’s first act.
It is impossible to talk about this movie, however, without mentioning the main reason it has resonated with its fans: the music. The film clearly takes cues from popular ‘80s high school films, such as The Breakfast Club, and recreates that nostalgic feeling in a ‘90s setting in its opening number, “After Today.”
While we get to see a honkytonk jig later on (featuring Lima’s voice cameo), a fun familial struggle with “On the Open Road” (watch out for that Disney animated universe cameo), and a father-son ballad, “Nobody Else But You,” but the biggest selling point of the film is the music performed by Tevin Campbell.
Let me put it this way: Campbell’s two musical numbers fill the movie with a kind of energy that makes you understand why Max and most of the goof world are so enamoured with the performer known as Powerline (Campbell). “Stand Out” is featured early on back in the school setting as a lip-sync and exudes a sexy bravado. “I2I,” the film’s main hit, is a track taking full-on inspiration from Michael Jackson, just like the character of Powerline – though the character is also based on Prince and Bobby Brown. There is a lot of energy, pyrotechnics, insane vocal runs, a dance move called “the perfect cast,” and a feel-good vibe that makes you feel like you can do anything.
All in all, A Goofy Movie has everything you could ask for. There are comedic moments that do not feel shoehorned in, serious moments that keep you on edge, quotable lines of dialogue, incredible music, famous Disney characters, and a story that will always resonate with audiences.
If you haven’t already, check it out on Disney+ or home video. 25 years later, A Goofy Movie is still as good as ever.