Thirteen years after Walt Disney's animated feature-film version of Margery
Sharp's "The Rescuers", the 1990 theatrical release of its sequel,
"The Rescuers Down Under", opened against "Home Alone".
As it obviously lost the box office battle, Bruce Broughton's clever soundtrack
disappeared along with it... Except among several film score devotees, including
those that pursued the album long after it went out of print. But, hey, now
Telling the story of a boy from central Australia who finds himself caught up
in an animal poacher's plans and requires the aid & rescue of the creature-cast
Rescue Aid Society, this adventure based on Sharp's books includes several recognizable
voices: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, John Candy, George C. Scott, Bernard Fox, and
Peter Firth. Another recognizable voice is Broughton's music, whose tight, almost
militaristic sense of rhythm and melody always contrasts well with his broad
orchestrations. It is a comfortable combination.
Broughton pits a symphonic orchestra against Australian ethnic instruments (and
some approximations) with varied results. While entertaining, the sound occasionally
veers toward being overly episodic, even considering the cartoon nature of the
film. None of this matters when his main theme--a bold, highly adaptable ditty--makes
its bounding appearance in 'Cody's Flight'. It speaks well of Broughton's skills
that an average melody from him can still bring a smile. There is a related
theme with a buoyant tone introduced in 'Message Montage' (along with Carol
Connors' 'R-E-S-C-U-E, Rescue Aid Society' from the original), and a bemused
love theme first developed with 'At the Restaurant'. Large chunks of the score
emphasize native rhythms to cheerful effect, making the intrusion of decidedly
non-native rockabilly into 'Wilber Takes Off' a confounding entry in the composer's
For thrills, it must be said that the pure action writing in "The Rescuers
Down Under" is exhilarating, and dignified. When he casts aside the Mickey-Mousing,
Broughton aims squarely for exciting grandeur, something rare in today's filmusic
scene. Whereas most action scoring goes for extremes of either primal clanging
or silly overstatement, here is a score that brings majestic derring-do and
some level of innocence to the dangerous proceedings. It could win over a kid
Production of the album is as basic as one can get and still have something
to release. On the plus side, it includes playing times--always a fair and welcome
aspect to see among a track listing. And as a reminder of the movie's place,
three surprisingly well-mixed but not especially well-written songs by (and
performed by) Carol Connors from the 1977 predecessor end the disc as "bonus"
Although Bruce Broughton hardly broke conventions with "The Rescuers Down
Under", it is more than just background music or mere pleasantness. It
is flawed, light, fun, and charming. So is the soundtrack worth checking out?
It's worth a shot, mate.