If Walt Disney Studios had its own version of TVOne’s Unsung, A Goofy Movie would be featured in the series premiere. Far too often is the 1995 film neglected from the conversation concerning top all-time Disney classics. Why isn’t it in the same conversation as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, or The Little Mermaid? Why have people who have consumed the myriad of other films within Disney’s rich catalogue decided to brush this one off?
The answer, which likely has something to do with Goofy’s inferior popularity in comparison to Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck (who each had cute cameos in the film), is unacceptable. And folks are missing out on magic. A Goofy Movie turned an eccentric sidekick narrative upside down, and blasted it into an ethos rife with Goofy’s own arc, world-building and a powerful soundtrack to boot. Plus, A Goofy Movie was black — very, very very black. Those canines were black. Animation: White voices, black visuals. We’re familiar.
Based on the television series Goof Troop, A Goofy Movie follows Max (Jason Marsden) who — after being afflicted with heartsickness by the likes of the shapely Roxanne (Kellie Martin) — finagles a cross-country bonding scheme with his overly eager yet well-meaning dad, Goofy (Bill Farmer) to attend a rockstar’s concert in hopes of impressing said shapely muse.
The film’s tertiary characters are paramount to the film’s appeal. P.J. (Rob Paulsen) was the lovable other-half to any respectable buddy comedy; Robert “Bobby” Zimuruski (Pauly Shore, who was bizarrely uncredited despite everyone knowing his voice), the unforgettable enigma wrapped in animated celluloid, was the quintessential Smokey-from-Friday type—a funny anecdote as Friday premiered weeks later that same year; Stacey (Jenna von Oy) had style and gave us Blossom realness. And then there was Principal Mazur (Wallace Shawn), who tried to boast Science Slumber Parties and sincerely thought that was going to be the wave with the students. Oh, and we can’t forget the hater-ass-hater known as Pete (Jim Cummings), P.J.’s father. The film is so good that even the background characters are unforgettable: the rambunctious imp with the unfortunate baby teeth situation sitting next to Max at the pitiful possum show, Bigfoot, Miss Maples, Michael Jackson’s glittery-gloved hand (yes!), and the bus driver who planned only one thing to do after today: sit on his butt (nevermind the fact his job entails that, anyway). And that’s just to name a few folks.
A Goofy Movie is equipped with all of the essential elements of a fun movie: a road trip and the shenanigans that come along with it—remember that god-awful Possum Posse Jamboree, straight out of a Chuck E. Cheese nightmare?—the sweeping ensemble musical number of “After Today and “On The Open Road” and a near-death scare during a trip to the Grand Canyon. From “Aye yo Stacey! Talk to me, talk to me, talk to me bay-bayyy!” to “Max, look! It’s the Leaning Tower of Cheesa!”, A Goofy Movie was filled to the brim with memorable quotables used by the nostalgic cool kids to this very day. Plus, imagine if the film came out today, The Perfect Cast — Goofy’s flawless fishing technique turned impromptu dance craze — would become a viral internet sensation. #ThePerfectCastChallenge
Add overall blackness to that and you have everything you could’ve dreamed of. The presence of blackness may be obvious in Disney films such as The Princess and the Frog where the protagonist is clearly a (and Disney’s first) black American princess or The Lion King, which is set in the motherland. However, in A Goofy Movie, the blackness is embodied in the essence. It’s Max’s swagger in contrast to Goofy’s fumbling squareness. It’s Principal Mazur’s hyperbolic prison pipeline threat to Max for simply crashing a school assembly with a free concert. Most importantly, its in the dancing: most notably, Max moonwalking and we’re not going to pretend like the knee-based-gyrating Roxanne and Stacey emulated at the film’s end wasn’t the Tootsie Roll, right?
Variety’s Todd McCarthy once said the film’s featured six songs were “unmemorable” in his 1995 review, which, — Tuh!
And then, there’s Powerline (Tevin Campbell). Oh, Powerline. Campbell’s saccharine symphony caressed our childhood with “Stand Out” and “Eye to Eye” (also referred to as “I 2 I”). Max moonwalking as he lip-synced his love to Roxanne hoping she’d just “take a look at [him] instead of just walking by” summarized every teen’s crush with a side of angst. Of course, Goofy rather preferred Xavier Cugat, the Mambo King, but even he realized Powerline’s (and his other-wordly high-top fade’s) unmatched magic at the end. Powerline’s concert swept the third act into a bombastically uproarious climax that left viewers salivating for more. Rosie Gaines bellowing out her rumbling “for the first tiiiime!” as the buxom diva upstage had us shook. The streets need a Powerline concert at Coachella, Afropunk or Lollapalooza. Or all of the above — a whole tour. Hurry up and take our collective monies.
A Goofy Movie shouldn’t simply be a goof, a blip or an afterthought on Disney’s classic compendium, it should be held with the level of reverence it deserves. After all, it taught us how many cups of sugar it takes to get to the moon.