The Great Mouse Detective (USA, 1986)
Directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, John Musker
Starring Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin, Vincent Price, Susanne Pollatschek
Considering the large number of Disney films I have reviewed, it would be easy to call me jaded when I go after certain offerings from their much-loved back catalogue. In other words, my heightened familiarity with Disney tropes, character conventions and storylines leads me to dismiss as disappointing works which are in all reality perfectly passable. In this case, however, my disappointment is entirely justified, since The Great Mouse Detective is neither more nor less than solidly mediocre.
The Black Cauldron was enjoyable and adventurous in its flaws, being a spirited return to fairy tales and folklore that was let down by poor characterisation and rows behind the scenes. Oliver & Company failed because it was lazy in its adaptation and worked against Disney's strengths with the modern setting and visual style. The Great Mouse Detective fails because it never surprises us; it is the kind of film that Disney could have made in his sleep, and promptly thrown away when he woke up.
The Rescuers, not enough effort was expended to show how the mouse society worked or resembled our own: the rules were either never laid out or constantly changed, making it difficult to suspend our disbelief. In The Great Mouse Detective there is a lot more effort, with all the direct parallels making sense, and all the adaptation of human technology for new purposes being explained in sufficient detail for us to invest in the story surrounding them.