Not long ago, I had to sit through the Sherlock Holmes-inspired animated film "Sherlock Gnomes" and I really didn't like that experience. Not only was it a boring and unnecessary sequel to a film that few remember, but it was also a poor excuse of a Sherlock Holmes-inspired movie. I just remembered the characters being unlikeable and having no charm to them whatsoever as well as the mystery elements being very poor. After watching that film, I began to wonder why couldn't there be a fun animated movie that had been influenced by the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when I realized there was already one that was done by Walt Disney Animation Studios back in 1986 called "The Great Mouse Detective". This film is a massive improvement over the former as it's not only a fun Sherlock Gnomes inspired flick, it's also a great animated movie.
When mouse toymaker Hiram Flaversham (Alan Young) is kidnapped by a peg-legged bat, his young daughter Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek) goes off looking for help in hopes of finding the famed detective Basil of Baker Street (Barrie Ingham). Along the way, she meets Dr. David Q. Dawson (Val Bettin) who has just returned from service in Afghanistan and is looking for a place to stay. The two together meet the eccentric detective and discover that her father was taken by a bat named Fidget (Candy Candido) who in turn is working for the evil Professor Rattigan (Vincent Price) a rat who has constantly slipped from Basil's fingers and is planning on using Faversham to create an evil device in time for Queen Mousetoria's Diamond Jubilee. With the help of Dr. Dawson and young Olivia, Basil plans on stopping the evil rat and save Flaversham before it's too late. I'm not going to give out any more of the plot, because you should probably see this movie yourself.
At a time when Disney was really struggling to get back to their golden era, this a great animated movie. It was made one year after the disaster that was "The Black Cauldron" which felt nothing like a Disney film and turned out pretty unpleasant. This film, on the other hand, has so much more passion and energy put into it by its crew compared to that film and there are reasons it shows. One reason why is because the film has fantastic directors helming it including John Musker and Ron Clements, who would later go on to do "The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin", "The Princess and the Frog" and "Moana", as well as story artist Burny Mattinson who had previously directed the charming short "Mickey's Christmas Carol". Another reason it works well is that the story feels like classic Disney as well as classic Sherlock Holmes. It has the charm you expect to see in a classic Disney movie while also having the excitement and suspense from a Sherlock Holmes story. The animation is also fantastic. The problems that were seen in "The Black Cauldron" like some terrible multiplane camera shots were nowhere to be found in this film because the character animation is once again lively and full like a Disney movie with Glen Keane's animation of Rattigan really stealing the show. I also like how well some of the computer animations in the finale has held up all these years later. It was also pretty revolutionary too as although "Black Cauldron" was released first, this was the first animated movie in production to use computer animation. The best part of this movie was the characters who were all likable. The way Basil acts like Sherlock Holmes with his eccentric attitude and Dawson acting like Dr. Watson with his bumbling personality is perfect and even young Olivia is also cute and likable which is saying something because some children characters can turn out annoying at times. The real highlight of the movie though is Professor Rattigan though. Vincent Price's performance is delightfully wicked and is a prime example of when a character and voice blend together perfectly. I don't think any other actor could pull off his character as well as Price. If I did have one complaint with the movie, it's that it does feel like it needs a clean up with the animations colors. I remember how well remastered some older Disney movies were and I think this film might be due for a remaster.
So to end things off, I highly do recommend "The Great Mouse Detective". It's the best Sherlock Holmes inspired animated movie I've seen so far with a fun story, animation worth of the Disney name and characters that are bouncy and fun. If you like Sherlock Holmes, I guarantee that you'll like this film. Check it out sometime when you have the chance.