Thursday, February 15, 2018

Reserved Seating: A GOOFY MOVIE

by Rob DiCristino and Adam Riske
The review duo who are seeing things I2I.

Adam: Welcome to a very special retro Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.

Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Adam: Similar to how Patrick and I finally had a conversation about Will Patton on our recent Holiday Episode, I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to have one about 1995’s A Goofy Movie, the feature-length movie based on the television series Goof Troop. When I discovered Rob may like the movie even more than I do (he has described it as part of his soul), I knew I found the right person to dig into this film. For me, A Goofy Movie is a film that keeps resurfacing unexpectedly as I have grown up. Recently, I was having a conversation about favorite Disney movies and someone mentioned how often I talk about A Goofy Movie. I didn’t even realize I did that, but when I thought about it, it made me happy this was becoming an involuntary reflex. I know I am not alone in holding the movie in a high nostalgic regard, as its become a cult classic over the years for many people now in their 30s. Yet, I don’t think it’s just fondness from my childhood that makes A Goofy Movie special.

I saw it in its first-run when I was 12 years old and I definitely identified with Max, Goofy’s son, who wanted to be his own man and felt protective for his blossoming personal life. Now, as an adult, I identify with both Max and Goofy, even though I don’t have children myself. I see in Goofy a sensitive guy in the role of a dad. A Goofy Movie gives an inner life to Goofy that I don’t believe we’ve really seen much of before and the film does a good job capturing that moment when a son realizes that his dad is a person too, with his own hopes, worries, point of view, etc. Disguised as slight, minor Disney animation, the filmmakers made a movie that’s really about something. Rob, why do you think this movie impacts you as much as it does? Has your relationship with it evolved from when you were a kid and now an adult with a son of your own? Did you know I got a perfect 16/16 on the A Goofy Movie quiz featured on the DVD?
Rob: I do now. Nice work! My own history with A Goofy Movie goes back as far as I can remember. It’s been part of my cinematic DNA since I was very young, primarily as a movie I watched over and over when visiting my dad on the weekends. It was one of the first movies I saw that addressed single parenthood in a meaningful way, and while our relationship didn’t mirror Goofy and Max’s exactly, I realize now why my dad and I watched it so often. It was a way to address all the odd quirks and idiosyncrasies in our relationship that my friends and their dads didn’t seem to have to deal with. It made it comfortable to admit — even if only by proxy — that there was always this weird cloud hanging over everything in our lives, that while we were both trying the best we could, there was a wall between us that wouldn’t seem to come down. The movie works perfectly fine for “normal” kids, of course, and every parent/child relationship has its issues, but this was always the Divorced Dad movie to me. It’s so heartbreakingly self-conscious. It never talks down to its audience or treats either lead as a caricature. These feelings are real, they’re messy, and they’re important. It meant a ton to have something like A Goofy Movie to turn to whenever I was lost or beaten down by that part of my life.

The fact that it still holds up as a great movie is almost a bonus; it’s a genuinely well-structured story with so many amazing (and smart) gags and details. I love that both characters are layered and flawed, at times irritatingly passive-aggressive in that way I think a lot of us can relate to. I love that the movie is willing to let Max be a legitimate asshole (the “map in the glovebox” sequence is so, so amazing in its cinematic delivery) and that Goofy isn’t let off the hook as some paragon of parental virtue. He screws up as much as Max does, which prevents things from feeling too preachy or obvious. I love that he stresses about being more masculine and that he eventually recognizes bad advice when he sees it. And I haven’t even gotten to the music! There’s just so much here. It’s no surprise that this DVD was one of the first things I got after my son was born. He’s not quite old enough for it yet, but I think the songs kept his attention on this viewing. It’s a start.

One more thing before I let you continue: Pauly Shore’s line reading on “Don’t give me that attitude, you guys. I’m doin’ it all for you” still makes me laugh out loud. It belongs in a goddamn museum.
Adam: I’m happy you brought up how the movie doesn’t talk down to its audience, because it is unusually frank at times and asks the audience to meet it halfway a bit. But it doesn’t do it in an Ang Lee’s Hulk way, where you feel like it’s all about the director and he has no regard for the audience. A Goofy Movie is very entertaining. I love how the movie has so much interest in the father-son dynamic between Goofy and Max that even when their car is racing down a waterfall, the two of them are still dealing with character shit. Most movies would just stop cold for the action sequence, but this one is like “And waste this script???” The music is really great, too. I don’t have much opinion on Tevin Campbell outside of this movie (he’s the singing voice for Powerline, the Usher-like pop artist all the kids in school love) but “I2I” and “Stand Out” are total fist pumpers. I am also a total mark for “After Today,” which is the greatest last day of school song in the history of recorded music. “School's Out” can suck it. It’s no “After Today.” On this viewing, I was even digging “Nobody Else But You,” which is corny AF but I think has a decent chorus. I love that this is a road trip movie that gets the details right about being with your dad in the car for a long stretch of time. There are moments where there’s long pauses between talking and then conversation sprouts up suddenly and it’s usually deeper conversation than the type of stuff you say to each other at home. I think it’s so great that the movie works equally well for both of us, but in completely different ways.
I was thinking I’d probably be kind of like Goofy if I were to ever be a father. Like, I know what’s best, but at the first moment my son (or daughter) thinks I’m kind of a joke or a fraud, I would fall to pieces and probably get really sad. Goofy has a line towards the end where he says something like “I know you have your own life. I just want to be a part of it” and I’m like “YEP! I’m destroyed.” This movie also really gets that awful feeling of what it’s like to be a kid and you know that you disappointed your dad somehow. I would rather break my hand then disappoint my dad. I did once when I was 10 over something really silly and it’s something I still think about in shame over 25 years later.

Rob: Right? And that’s what’s so effective. It lets both sides be vulnerable. And don’t worry — all dads are Goofy at one point or another. My kid is already way too cool to hang out with me, and it breaks my heart. I love what you said about the movie not wasting any moment it could be using to tell a story, and I’m reminded of when Goofy sees the prisoner in the back of the squad car and envisions Max in chains. Even during this fun and jaunty tune about the open road, we’re always conscious of character and stakes. There’s also that bit where Max tears up his letter to Roxanne, lets it blow out the window, and the camera holds on the piece that says “I lied,” which in that moment is underscoring the fact that he just lied to his dad as well as his girl. That’s some One Perfect Shot shit, right there.

I love all the songs in the film, but “I2I” is the true banger. It’s totally worth all the weird looks I’ve gotten when blasting it in my car. Luckily, most of my friends loved A Goofy Movie as much as I did. My buddy Drew even had his wedding band play “I2I,” which is one of my favorite memories ever.

One thing I have to bring up is the digression in the middle with Bigfoot. It’s so weird and awesome. Like, obviously you need a way to trap Max and Goofy together so that they have no choice but to deal with their shit, but the fact that they went so far as to include sock puppets and the Bee Gees is just out of control. It’s so dumb, and I love it so much.
Adam: Hi Dad Soup? In the words of the Italians, fuhgeddaboudit. A few questions for you: 1) How long do you think Max and Roxanne dated? 2) Have you seen An Extremely Goofy Movie? What are your thoughts? I remember it being typical DTV stuff and couldn’t live up to A Goofy Movie, but what could? 3) What are some other ‘90s Disney movies, animated or live-action, that were in heavy rotation for you back in the day? Besides A Goofy Movie, we were a big house for The Lion King, Toy Story, DuckTales: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, Hocus Pocus, The Mighty Ducks, Angels in the Outfield, The Santa Clause, Man of the House (the real one, not that Tommy Lee Jones bullshit), Cool Runnings, Blank Check, Jungle 2 Jungle, First Kid and Air Bud.

P.S. Someone I know (I’ll tell you offline) got Powerlined at an assembly back in high school and she was mortified by the dude serenading her. You gotta give Max credit for rolling the dice so big.

Rob: That’s the kind of thing that makes so much sense when you’re a lovesick kid but feels inconceivably inappropriate as an adult. Poor guy. Poorer girl. Anyway, what’s funny is that aside from the obvious golden era (era) ‘90s stuff, I was never a big Disney kid. I didn’t even know that A Goofy Movie was based on Goof Troop until today. Other than those obvious big ones, I’d say I was also into The Mighty Ducks, The Rescuers, Homeward Bound, and Jungle 2 Jungle, the last of which I’d love to revisit someday. I remember being really attached to the junior love story in that one. I think I related to it, or at least I really wanted to. I’ll let you know when I figure that out. Also, do you remember House Arrest? I know it wasn’t Disney, but Jennifer Love Hewitt and her friends locked Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollak in the basement or something like that? I was really into that one, too. Being a kid in the ‘90s was fun.

And I’ve never seen An Extremely Goofy Movie, but I think I’m better off not bothering. I don’t want it to sully my perfect relationship with these characters. Finally, I want to say that Max and Roxanne made it to freshman year of college, where the distance between her Ivy League campus and Max’s state school got to be too much. They moved on, but they both held onto really warm memories of their first big romance.
Adam: I never saw House Arrest because I was really judgy about kids in kids movies. I thought the kids in House Arrest looked like a bunch of fuckfaces so I didn’t want anything to do with it. It looked like poor man’s Camp Nowhere. Sorry, Rob. House Arrest did look like rich man’s Carpool, though, so I’ll give it that much respect.

I think Max and Roxanne probably made it until 1997 and that she broke up with him for a guy named Zeus so that everyone around school would be like “Did you see Zeus and Roxanne?” and no one would know if they were talking about the couple or the movie Zeus and Roxanne. Anyways, a big Mark Ahn for A Goofy Movie. It’s perfect. What do you want to review next week? I was going to see if we could do Black Panther but now I want to pawn that off to Patrick and review Jungle 2 Jungle instead.

Rob: Agreed. A perfect Mark Ahn across the board. Let’s shoot for Black Panther but leave room for Jungle 2 Jungle references throughout. I’ll wear my Powerline t-shirt to the screening.

Adam: Word. The kid in Jungle 2 Jungle shot pigeons with a bow and arrow. Classic fish out of water stuff. Until next time…

Rob: These seats are reserved.

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