This week on my Facebook page I was delighted to see lots of back to school pictures from my friends with children starting off the school year. Seeing these images and the smiling (and a little bit nervous) looks on kids’ faces made me want to come up with a family movie night pick they might like and that has a back to school element. I also wanted to pick a movie which I thought boys would like since they are a little bit harder to come by on Netflix kids. After much thought, I went with the fun but imperfect An Extremely Goofy Movie.
Made in 2000, An Extremely Goofy Movie is a sequel to the 1995 film A Goofy Movie (Netflix only has Extremely not the original). Both films were made by the Disneytoons division which is the studio that makes the lesser-known, often straight to DVD films for Disney. They are behind the terrible sequels in the 2000s like Bambi 2 and the horrifically bad Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 (that’s available on Netflix and I promise you it’s awful. Don’t watch it!). Honestly the Goofy, Tinker Bell and Winnie the Pooh franchises are the standouts over at Disneytoons.
I could see someone really eviscerating An Extremely Goofy Movie and it isn’t without its flaws. First of all, it is dated and stuck in the year 2000. Everything is extreme including extreme sports like skateboarding and BMX biking (even the name is Extreme!). It also has a lot of lame jokes about coffee and Starbucks that feel very dated.
But if you can get beyond that junk there are things to like in An Extremely Goofy Movie. The plot is Max is now 18 and going off to college (even though he looks exactly the same as in the previous film). He is naturally very excited to be on his own and away from his overprotective but well-meaning Dad. Unfortunately for him, Dad loses his job and has to go back to college for the year. This means Max has to put up with Goofy for the entire school year.
Things get further complicated when a rival fraternity (led by Bradley Uppercrust who is just as snobby as he sounds) challenges Max and friends to an XGames show-down. Goofy also meets a love interest named Sylvia and they share a common infatuation with anything 1970s and are actually quite funny together.
Whether it is in the movies or on The Goof Troop TV show, I’ve always liked the relationship between Goofy and Max and can relate to that dichotomy of needing your parents but wanting them to be as far away as possible. I think it’s good for kids to talk about their parents as real people with feelings that make mistakes and Goofy is such a character. There is no doubt his heart is always in the right place.
They decided to not have any original songs like A Goofy Movie but I don’t really mind that because I’m not a huge fan of those songs. Instead they have a bunch of classic rock songs from the 70s featuring Pat Benatar, Peaches and Herb, Carmen Carter, John Avila, The Specials, The Partridge Family and more. I’m impressed for a direct to DVD movie they would pay so much for the copyright to songs like C’Mon Get Happy. They can’t be cheap.
Overall, I feel like they really tried to make a good movie. The animation is solid (definitely much better than most of the Disney sequels from Disneytoons). There is a cool sequence where Goofy is trying to take a test but is so focused on Max he has kind of a hallucinogenic dream. I like when Disney animators get nutty and weird for no apparent reason. It’s like the animators creativity bursting through the screen! (Another example is the yodeling song in Home on the Range. It’s like they couldn’t help themselves). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9DpihgqMhs
The voicecast they got also shows effort. Bill Farmer is of course great as Goofy but we get James Marsden, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Vicki Lewis, Bebe Neuwirth (my favorite as Sylvia), Pauly Shore and Rob Paulsen.
Not all the humor works in this film but I still laughed. Kids will like the slapstick jokes but I thought some of the writing was funny. My favorite was when one of the boys says “And why are we always wearing these gloves?”! Hasn’t everyone been wondering that all these years?
The most important part of An Extremely Goofy Movie is its heart. The relationship between Goofy and Max is one I think most families will be able to relate too and perhaps have some discussions about communication and accepting each other’s differences. Movies don’t have to be perfect to be worth a watch, and An Extremely Goofy Movie is a film I’d certainly like to watch with my family at the beginning of the school year.