review for The Great Mouse Detective on AllMovie

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
by Craig Butler review

Coming on the heels of the disappointing The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective marked a welcome, if unexceptional, return to form for the Disney studio. Mouse is a modest and unassuming entertainment with wonderful parts that somehow add up to a slightly lesser whole. The animation is clean and solid, flowing smoothly yet with energy and featuring convincing and effective character design. Backgrounds are colorful and atmospheric, and there are a number of clever and amusing inventions, including a Rube Goldberg-esque deathtrap for Basil. The plot is strong, with the genre's requisite twists and turns (although not so many as to confuse younger viewers), and the film moves along at a lively clip. Vincent Price makes his cartoon debut, supplying the oiliness and slithering vocal tones the role requires. Barrie Ingham and Val Bettin are just right as Basil and Dawson, and Melissa Manchester puts in a pleasing music hall turn. The abbreviated score is only so-so, although Ratigan's big number is well staged. Despite all these assets, the film still lacks that little extra spark; fortunately directors Ron Clements and John Musker would find that spark (in a big way) with their next effort, The Little Mermaid.