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  • Writer's pictureBryce Chismire

A Goofy Movie - Father’s Day Review

We have all never been unacquainted with Goofy at some point or another, have we? With his physical slapstick and dimwitted personality, he lived up to his name and set a standard among most cartoon characters who took the world by storm in the early 20th century.

 

But among the number one questions anyone would've thought of is, how can you base an entire movie around a character like him? That's one of the many questions concerning not just Goofy but also Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the other classic characters that starred alongside them in years past.

 

Surprisingly, in 1995, Disney made that concept work with A Goofy Movie. But it is a different kind of Goofy movie than was anticipated; the film is based less on the Goofy cartoons and more on the Disney Afternoon TV series, Goof Troop.



As for the story, Goofy's son, Maximilian 'Max' Goof, was a teenager going to high school, but one of his most prominent pursuits was to win the heart of his crush, Roxanne. And what method did he devise to achieve that? To upstage the boorish Principal Mazur at a school seminar by emerging onto the school auditorium dressed up as pop superstar Powerline. The surprise show worked since Roxanne was blown away by his performance to the point where she accepted Max's offer to take her to an upcoming end-of-school party, where a live television broadcast of Powerline's next concert would've been shown. Live on pay-per-view, Stacey said.

 

However, Max had two problems to deal with. One, because his father was, well, Goofy, Max tried his hardest to leave his mark among the crowd as the cool kid, the kind who took things seriously and knew how to win over his peers, especially Roxanne. So, he feared that being seen or even identified with Goofy would make him look like another Goofy. And two, because of the Powerline incident at the school, Principal Mazur called Goofy about it while he was at work, warning Goofy that Max's actions could put him 'in the electric chair' unless Goofy tended to him somehow. It gave Goofy an idea: because summer had just started, he took Max on a road trip without his knowledge so they could spend some quality time together. Their destination? Lake Destiny, Idaho, where Goofy went with his father when he was Max's age. Once Max caught on to this, he was rattled and had to update Roxanne on his and his father's plans before they departed. And what did Max say to Roxanne? Instead of taking Roxanne to the party, as he promised, Max told her he had to forgo it because he and his father would've joined Powerline at his concert in Los Angeles since Goofy knew Powerline and the band. And the concert was to unfold in a week from when they departed for their family road trip. So, how would Max turn this white lie into a reality? And could he?

 

Before he could figure it out, he and Goofy went through many kinds of crazy hijinks and wacky situations together, including going to a past-its-prime opossum theme park, running face-to-face with Bigfoot, and trying to brave a river and waterfall. On more than one occasion, they also ran into fellow neighbors Pete and his son, PJ, who also went on a road trip, only they did so in their surprisingly lavish RV. What's Max to do amidst all this chaos? How would this have affected his relationship with Roxanne and his reputation with his friends back home? And for all their differences, how about with his father?

 

Let me tell you about my earliest exposure to this movie. Much like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, I was acquainted with this film long before I realized it was made off a TV show, not the other way around. Because I was so young when I first caught a glimpse of this movie, I was more drawn into the wacky hijinks, Max Goof's struggles, and how much of a differing conflict could've ensued between him and Goofy.

 

However, before I go into further detail on these, let's talk about the supporting characters first.

 

As Max's otherwise neurotic best friend, PJ fretted about the likely outcomes of whatever crazy stunts he and Max engaged in together, mainly because of the stiff consequences he'd get from his father, Pete. However, it felt obvious that he wanted to do what was best for Max and was still willing to achieve what he was afraid of pulling off if it meant helping him further in his goals. PJ still felt the same as in Goof Troop, showing how some people would still have maintained their personalities and likenesses even into teenagerhood.

 

As for his father, Pete was a brash and self-aggrandizing father who always expressed unorthodox measures in raising children, as he demonstrated by how he raised PJ. It starkly contrasted how Goofy raised Max, for Goofy was generally oblivious to what his son Max was up to. Pete was always the domineering force in the family and always expected nothing but the best from PJ, and he was prone to go rough on him when he didn't live up to his expectations.



However, one detail about these two made me anxiously curious as I compared them to how they were in Goof Troop. In the show, the family didn’t consist of just Pete and PJ. Making up the family with them was Pete’s wife and PJ’s mother, Peg, their daughter and PJ’s younger sister, weirdly named Pistol, and their pet dog named Chainsaw. However, because they were around when PJ and Max were still kids in the show, to see none of them around in the movie raised a likely suspicion that between the show and the film, Pete’s abrasive nature caused Peg to divorce Pete and take Pistol and Chainsaw with her. No one knows if this was confirmed anywhere outside of the show or the movie, but it might throw a surprisingly depressing angle to something like Goof Troop. Of course, director Kevin Lima denied this potential outcome, so who knows where the rest of Pete’s family had gone?

 

In my opinion, one of Max's other friends from school, Bobby, might've lived up to his radical and cool attitude compared to Max, primarily because he was the one whipping up the cool catchphrases in general conversations. Even then, however, Bobby's hipster tendencies weren't overplayed, and they did slide along nicely with some of his more righteous, if also questionable, methods of accomplishing specific tasks, especially for Max. Of course, one tactic about him that was most memorable is his hardcore love of cheddar, which he demonstrated boisterously whenever he carried around a cheese spray.

 

Principal Mazur was a typically standoffish principal who seemed to distrust and dislike teenagers and set too high a standard in terms of academic excellence. In one instance, during his briefing with the students at the school seminar, he expected them, as they prepared for summer vacation, to continue what they should generally learn in school, even during their free time in summer vacation. Raise your hand if you think science slumber parties are a good idea. He also noticeably did not take kindly to Max's antics throughout school, even if they did not directly involve him. Reflecting on this character, I suspect he was based on the principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, with his grudge against Ferris Bueller for his failing grades and reckless antics. I felt the same mannerisms from Principal Mazur, too. But when Mazur relayed what he endured because of Max to Goofy over the phone, his exaggerations of what happened while warning Goofy about what Max could've been in for because of it floored me. Weirdly enough, at that moment, Mazur sounded full of both contempt and concern for teenagers like Max at the same time.



But now, let's shift our attention to Max's crush from school, Roxanne. She may not have said or done much, but she seemed so respectful and modest that… Well, how can you not like her?

 

We may have seen this kind of scenario before, where the shy boy in school tried to win the affections of a beautiful, potentially perfect girl he liked, whatever the odds against them may be. I remember feeling the same way whenever I saw Aladdin try to win Jasmine's heart. Well, this is different. Max was far from shy – almost – and believe it or not, Roxanne was far from perfect.

 

Not only did her body language clue me in that she likes Max in secret, but her attempts to grab his attention were just as slightly awkward and clumsy as Max's attempts to catch hers were. So, even though she seemingly knew better, there were some things she needed to iron out, just like Max did, and that added to her relatability as a character. And every time Max and Roxanne got together, their feelings for each other by then were downright precious. There's such a lovey-dovey chemistry between them that I felt their innermost needs for each other and thought they would make a prosperous couple. It also worked because I'll wager that many high schoolers, even middle schoolers, went through the same twitterpated instincts as Max and Roxanne. So, this only contributed to their instinctive reputation as a seemingly perfect type of Disney couple.

 

Roxanne's friend, Stacey, the A-student in her class, also seemed like a highly knowledgeable student with a fittingly 'classy' know-how concerning various subjects. However, as Roxanne's close friend, I felt her commitment to help Roxanne as she nudged her into doing something, especially with Max, with just the right push. She seemed like she was to Roxanne what PJ was to Max, only she was the more confident half.

 

Now that we have discussed the supporting characters, let's look at the two main leads of the movie.

 

As I'm sure many people know of him, Goofy's a clumsy goofball who got into precarious situations and ended up in more trouble than it's worth. Even then, though, Goofy's heart was in the right place, and he tried to make a decent impression on Max, who he feared was growing too distant from him. So, there's some conflict regarding how much he should let his love for Max interfere with his social life. Of course, given his antics with Max, not helped by the advice he was given by either Pete or Principal Mazur, he always took such questionable advice to heart without acknowledging when these bits of advice could've done more harm than good. So, while his intentions with Max didn't always have Max's best interests at heart, it's still clear he tried to be there for Max, whether he needed him around or not.

 

As for Max, I was almost in awe of how compelling A Goofy Movie made him as a character. In the show, Max felt like the cool kid bound to lunge into action and take on anything extreme to impress his peers while putting up with his father's clueless antics. That alone was a good starting point because it helped establish Max as a proper foil for Goofy. Whereas Goofy was generally a klutz, Max took things more seriously, sensibly, and levelheadedly than he did.



In the movie, however, Max was established with what I'm not sure I recall seeing enough of out of him in the show: honesty. And given how this movie came out when many people were into 'teenagers with attitude,' it makes this feel more refreshing. While Max still embodied some of the 'cool kid' antics rampant throughout the 1990s, this time, he went through some struggles usually associated with being a teenager, such as the need for independence, the desperation to impress whoever he loved, and the urgency to be seen among the crowd. It seemed like Max tried to prove himself as someone dignified in one way or another, with his heart in the right place, just like Goofy. Once Max was stuck with his father on their vacation, he had many things to worry about outside of just putting up with being seen alongside his father. He also had to figure out what to do regarding Roxanne back home, how to head to Los Angeles and share the spotlight and stage with Powerline. He had to grapple with many things, and a good chunk of them was bound to end up in rough terrain if he was to reach smoother sailing.

 

It also made him feel more robust when you put him side by side with all the other famous Disney characters. Because of his chemistry with his father, Goofy, and his neighbor, Pete, it's easier now to see him getting along with other characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey, Louie, and the others. And because of his insecurities as a teenager, it only made him feel like a more satiable new addition to the family.

 

You want another reason why he's so effective this way? Compare him to Lola Bunny in the Space Jam movies. Outside of amping her sexy girliness in the first film or her feminist resolve in the second film, she did not once feel like she belonged within the Looney Tunes ensemble. Why? Because she wasn't developed with enough wacky hijinks or enough of an engaging personality to jibe well with those of the other Looney Tunes characters, an issue that would've been resolved dearly with her role in The Looney Tunes Show.

 

On the other hand, Max Goof felt more relatable, especially when comparing him to his general personality in Goof Troop. He felt human enough to evoke instinctive empathy but still cartoony enough to look like he'd fit alongside the other classic Disney characters, starting with Goofy. Even though Max did not display as much of a comedic personality, he still established some of his energetic instincts, too, and the more drastic moments that weighed on him added to his appeal. Also, he occasionally was subject to some slapstick with his father, so it still made him seem comedically applicable to what Goofy would've ended up in. It's just that his more grounded personality clashing with his father's wacky personality drove forth the movie's conflict.

 

Outside of Max's relationship with Roxanne, this leads to one of the movie's greatest strengths: his relationship with his father. Here, you have Max, a teenager trying to prove himself as his own person, and you have Goofy, who loved his son so much that he forgot that he's grown up and on the verge of forging his path in life. That's what contributed to the borderline drama throughout this film. Max wanted to be independent, Goofy wanted to be there for his son for fear of losing him, and Goofy's method of ensuring that they catch up was for him to arrange the fishing trip, thinking it's what's best for him and Max. However, as Max's anxiety and anguish demonstrated, Goofy did not take a minute to consider what his actions were doing to Max, especially since Max had plans that derailed once Goofy roped him along for the trip. It would later have played a severe role when, later in the movie, Max unintentionally looked at Goofy's map, the same one Goofy and his father used during their trip together to Lake Destiny. Because Max was so determined not to let anyone back home down, and least of all Roxanne, Max decided to change the map and have it head straight towards Los Angeles, not Lake Destiny. So, because Max was in a position where he had to choose between his devotion to his father or his commitment to living up to his friends' expectations, it put Max on a tightrope over which path to take, even if it meant leaving someone hurt regardless. As he bemoaned,

 

I'm dead no matter what I do!



It also came to a head in what many people declared as one of the movie's finest moments, and understandably so. It's when Goofy lounged in a hot tub in a flashy aquatic-themed hotel called Neptune Inn, where he and Max were staying, as were Pete and PJ, again by chance. Pete tagged along to relax with him, but after overhearing what Max and PJ said about changing the map behind Goofy's back in their hotel room, Pete was prompted to tell Goofy. After hearing it, Goofy didn't believe it at first and refuted Pete's warnings about Max since he finally started getting close to him during their trip. The discussions between the characters felt natural, grown-up, and very real, and they contributed to the dramatic measures the movie took with its characters once Goofy's intentions started to clash with Max's. What also made this powerful is that watching Goofy stand up to Pete after unwisely taking his advice to heart would normally have been seen as a fantastic moment. Unfortunately, for all his defending of Max, Pete was telling him the truth this time, so Goofy put his foot down over the wrong subject at the wrong time.

 

The chips that fell into place afterwards made for some nail-biting tension to unfold between Max and Goofy as they neared their choices of destinations: Goofy with Lake Destiny and Max with Los Angeles. It would've heightened the uncertainties and anxieties concerning where each of them would've gone and to what extent one would've accomplished what they meant to do, whether they realized it was hurting someone else or not.

 

But that's not the only good thing to report about A Goofy Movie.

 

As expected with animated movies, it all boiled down to how well done the voice acting was to help the characters come alive and make the film feel more believable. For all their cartoony experience, the voice actors assembled in this movie helped do their characters justice.

 

Bill Farmer, as always, excelled in giving Goofy his goofy personality while maintaining his more tender moments whenever he was in severe doubt, sad, agitated, or unsure of what was going on in front of him, especially concerning Max.

 

Many people may point to Dana Hill when considering who performed as Max Goof the best. But whenever I think of Max Goof, the voice Jason Marsden conveyed Max with always comes to mind. I always think of how he conveyed his inner teenager, how effectively he expressed his angst and conflicted nature whenever he had to deal with the clumsy antics of his father, or how his plans went up in smoke because of it. But for all the times when Marsden sounded like a whiny teenager, many other times, he portrayed Max with just the right amount of frustration and conflict in his voice to clue me into how Max had a lot on his mind. Marsden also made Max sound like he tried to make some sense of the anarchy around him, whether it concerned his father or whatever occurred throughout their trip together. Either way, he conveyed the perfect amount of thoughtfulness and inner considerations with Max as he tried to work out his solutions for himself and others, mostly Roxanne.

 

Jim Cummings, arguably the master voice actor, let out his exaggerated moments as Pete, especially whenever he was either rough as a parent or 'helpful' as Goofy's friend. Through his inflictions, I can sense a twinge of self-righteousness in his tone, thus painting Pete in a customarily egotistical light.



Rob Paulsen is one of the few actors who returned from Goof Troop, and he did the voice of PJ. He nailed down his modesty and meek attitude while providing a hidden layer of commitment, like PJ wanted to do what was right, especially for Max, even if he knew they could get into trouble for it. Other times, when he was not being finicky, he showed his true colors as a true best friend of Max and how he was into the same things as Max when in a more casual mood.

 

I also admire the voice actress who played Roxanne, Kellie Martin. She conveyed her with just the right amount of naturality to make her seem as grounded as Max was, if not more so than Max by comparison. But, like Rob Paulsen, she knew how to sneak in just a twinge of finickiness when she tried to talk to Max under the right circumstances. Sometimes, because Roxanne also happened to be looking after her father, instead of her father looking after her, you can sense a twinge of responsibility in her voice as well. So, Martin's performance as Roxanne carried some subtle layers, just like the movie does.

 

You know something? As teenagers having to watch over and reason with their fathers, it seems like Max and Roxanne are made for each other.

 

Famous comic actor Wallace Shawn provided some sheer cockiness in Principal Mazur's voice as he expressed his pretentious tenacities concerning the students' educational potential, even when they should be allowed to roam free. He also perfectly honed his inner distaste for the more unruly students like Max. It's no powerhouse performance, but it was fun to listen to, just like his more fittingly comic role as Rex in Toy Story the same year.



And finally, of all the actors in this picture, Pauly Shore joined in as Bobby. I understand that Pauly Shore was a controversially uneven actor in the 1990s. Sometimes, he hit bullseyes, but other times, he was dismissed as just being an unfunny comedian. But here? The way Pauly Shore portrayed Bobby seemed unlike how Max, PJ, and the others were portrayed, but his style seemed appealing. Even if part of his performance sounded as over-the-top as his repertoire suggests, Pauly Shore still did a neat job of painting Bobby's character with enthusiasm and cheekiness, and not cheesiness, if you will.

 

One of the movie's other major highlights that I must point to is the animation. Whereas the animation in Goof Troop is generally sketchy and a tad loopy, the animation in A Goofy Movie feels crisper and more polished. It may not have been by the same company that did the animation of movies like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, or The Lion King, but for what the animators achieved in a film based on a Disney Afternoon series, I was slack-jawed over how much of an upgrade the film's animation was by comparison. When it's funny, the animation went all out there with the energy and exaggerations necessary to pull off a solid comedic effect. But when it got more serious or somber, it slowed down a little to let the more dramatic implications of what went on sink in, especially concerning Goofy, Max, and their relationship. Some scenes in the movie threw 3D elements into the mix, like in the canyonlands, but they all blended in smoothly, partially thanks to their matching color schemes.

 

Speaking of which, the colors are charming to look at, too. There's something about how bright they all looked and how they heightened the joys to be felt when preparing for summer vacation and the intriguing sights to explore on a road trip. The backgrounds even carried a slight earthiness to them that, when mixed with the brightness of the colors, helped the movie pop. The characters expressed similar tones in whatever environment they settled in, whether in forests, suburban neighborhoods, or canyonlands. I could feel the commitment, effort, and borderline atmosphere rampant throughout the movie.

 

As for the road trip, it's just one zany roadside stop after another.

 

Lester's Possum Park? Talk about no maintenance! It is a riff off The Country Bears, down to its Possum Posse Jamboree and the song the opossum quartet played. I'll mention the other songs soon. Goofy said it was better than he remembered, but with its malfunctioning robots and fading exterior, I looked at it like it could have used a major upgrade eons ago, it looked so rundown.



Next, Goofy and Max camped out while Goofy tried to give Max some preparatory fishing lessons before reaching Lake Destiny. During their practices, however, they lured in Bigfoot (of all creatures), and a good chunk of their encounter with him led to some comedic pratfalls between them, even if the rest of the time, Max and Goofy had to hide from Bigfoot in their car.

 

And finally, let's talk about the music in the movie, specifically the songs. Never mind that they came at a time when animated musicals were everywhere, they still left an adequate mark on what could've been accomplished with tunes in a Goofy cartoon.

 

After Today was excellent in expressing the infectious excitement that the high schoolers felt about the last day of school as it segued into the first day of summer around the corner. Max's excitement was apparent, too, since he saw this as his opportunity to woo Roxanne and prove himself as being more than just some goof, not too different from how Aladdin wanted to prove himself as being more than some street rat.

 

On the Open Road, sung by Goofy, then by Max and all the other passersby, seemed like a glorious yet upbeat and easygoing song that relished in the anticipations of exploring new horizons on the road…at least, as Goofy saw it. Max saw this as hindering his life opportunities, saying he'd rather focus on his more important issues, like trying to impress Roxanne, than be roped into someone else's shenanigans against his will. But there's something I find darkly funny about how the song was so rousing that it got people like a hostage with cement shoes and a corpse joining in. It shows you that the movie can slip in a pretty sneaky sense of humor, even in general musical circumstances.

 

Nobody Else But You could easily have been mistaken for a romantic love ballad if taken out of context. However, in this case, it applied to Goofy and Max when they finally came clean about their feelings for each other as father and son. Some people might find the song too syrupy, but it oozed with contentedness and confessions, and there’s something heartwarming about hearing Goofy and Max admit through song that they’d not stop loving each other despite the odds they would’ve faced. It’s melodically evocative, and it was especially touching to listen to when Max and Goofy were on the verge of making peace with each other, so that only sweetened the deal.



As for the other two songs in this film? That prompts me to highlight another important aspect of this movie that may have made it a cult classic. And that would be none other than the famous rock musician himself, Powerline. When you look at him, it's clear he's an homage to some of the famous R&B/Pop singers of the 80s and 90s, such as Prince and especially Michael Jackson. Plus, his outfit was reminiscent of Devo. The connections were apparent in the characters' idolization and reverence of Powerline, for they pointed to him as one of the most proficient and highly regarded musicians to have ever lived, similar to how we look at Michael Jackson. What helps strengthen this connection further is that, while Powerline never spoke in this movie, his voice performance was done by the Grammy Award-nominated R&B/Pop artist Tevin Campbell. It is neat because Tevin Campbell got his big break to do his music courtesy of Prince, among other artists, in the late 80s and early 90s. After getting familiar with him as Powerline, I heard some of his albums, and he's a good singer on his own. If you haven't, you should check him out. However, Campbell's role as Powerline may have immortalized him, for he gave him just the right vocals to heighten the illusion of being a famous and talented musician.

 

In terms of music, he performed two songs in this movie, both lunging forth with terrific music.

 

The first one, which I see as applying more to Max, is entitled Stand Out. It highlighted all the passion and determination Max felt about making his impressions on his friends back home, whether it be the high school body or especially Roxanne. It's a simplistic yet urgent and unapologetic-about-it song that highlighted Max's inner urges to leave behind some semblance of a reputation as he wanted to with his fellow peers.

 

Powerline's next song, however, I2I, could arguably be interpreted as the movie's theme song. And unlike Nobody Else but You, the interpretations I2I inspired are more numerous. On the surface, and possibly as Powerline wrote it, it could be perceived as a general love song – come to think of it, Stand Out might've been written by Powerline the same way, too – showcasing the determination one may feel in reaching someone else and that doing things eye to eye, as the song goes, is the key to maintaining a good relationship and staying close. What I mean about its inspiring multiple interpretations is that it could apply to Max and Goofy since they had to see eye to eye to understand each other. However, I can also see this applying to Max and Roxanne since they tried to work through their little fumbles to understand each other better. This thematic flexibility, combined with the song's rhythms and Tevin Campbell's talented vocals, is why I consider I2I the best song in the movie.



It may sound like general fluff to be said about a nostalgic film such as this, but the reputation it inspired throughout the years doesn't lie. Many fans endlessly quoted the movie, it was given a 20th-anniversary celebration at the D23 Expo in 2015, and After Today was adapted into an online live-action recreation video that took social media by storm. There's even an admittedly trippy Atlanta episode entitled "The Goof Who Sat by the Door," which is a skillful satire that came with a fictionalized play on the making and foundational values of this film.

 

While A Goofy Movie looks more like a portal into the 1990s than a cohesive Goofy movie, and while yes, it's generally light on the surface, what it offers amounts to plenty of surprises that give it a delectable, rich-tasting center. The animation is marvelous, the characters are likable, the dramatic moments feel genuine and impressive, and the music goes from lighthearted and fun to deep and resounding. It shows you how there are so many ways to interpret classic Disney characters like Goofy. And even though there might not be one perfect way to do so, if you throw in just the right amount of storytelling pros to back them up and some recognizable elements onto it for good measure, you're guaranteed to have a movie that, through all its faults, could quickly leave a profound impact on those who saw it in their youth, as I did. And besides, who knew that you could do so much with a movie based on Goof Troop?

 

Hop in and hit the open road for a trip full of highs and lows, as only Goofy and his gang could provide!

 

Happy Father's Day!


My Rating

A high B



Additional Thoughts


— Intriguingly, Pete expressed some slight jealousy when watching Goofy and Max bond. So, when he caught wind of Max changing the map, he was willing to lean in and listen with intrigue. Because of this, there's no telling whether his telling Goofy about what Max did was an attempt to get back at him or if Pete told him the truth because he felt it was not like Max to do this to Goofy. I guess that Pete was a tad jealous, but what he initially thought would've been exciting details about Max was something he thought Goofy had to know no matter what. That's just my two cents.

 

— On their own, the opening credits were hilarious; they started with 'Walt Disney Pictures Presents' before plainly saying 'A Movie' before turning into 'A Goofy Movie.' At the same time, though, reading the credits sequentially…

 

Walt Disney Pictures Presents… A Movie. A Goofy Movie.

 

Why do I feel like there's a slight 'Bond, James Bond' vibe to these credits?

 

— Though light in its results, A Goofy Movie had just been subject to censorship, and the results feel desperate and unneeded for a G-rated film. I won't bother going into much detail; here’s the link for you to see. I can only say that, sadly, they emerged when the movie was given its HD treatment for its Blu-Ray and Disney+ release. When will they leave well enough alone, especially with films like A Goofy Movie?



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