The Great Mouse Detective is the definitive mouse version of Sherlock Holmes. As strange as that sounds, it’s true that it wasn’t Disney’s decision to replace characters with animals. Not like what they did with Robin Hood. It was just a coincidence that the book Basil of Baker Street already existed. Although the story of a mouse world that mimics the human world is very similar to The Rescuers. The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective were both made simultaneously. The latter was considered an alternative for anyone who didn’t like the former’s direction. It became the twenty-sixth Walt Disney animated feature in the process. The animation was made extra atmospheric to capture London. The only real gripe was with the generic title change. Because the studio head seriously thought audiences weren’t classy enough to appreciate its British title. Other generic joke titles were made in response.
Sherlock Holmes is a famous detective I’m familiar with, but haven’t seen many adaptations of. The Great Mouse Detective is a fair kid friendly introduction. However this is the Dark Age, so expect a ton of creepy imagery. Most of which comes from a jump scaring bat. It’s the main thing my brother and I remember about seeing The Great Mouse Detective at such a young age. Yet that didn’t stop us from enjoying the case. Like Holmes, Basil is a brilliant master of deduction. He gains a reluctant partner just like Watson named Dawson. “Why it’s elementary my dear Dawson.” The real Holmes and Watson do live above the mice, but no humans are ever seen. The case Basil takes is the missing father of plucky young mouse Olivia.
The bat that took him is working for the sewer rat equivalent of Professor Moriarty named Professor Ratigan (just don’t call him a rat). Vincent Price is deliciously evil in the role and having the time of his life. Especially when he feeds his henchman to his cat. The trio follow clues on a friendly hound to a disturbing toy store where the bat kidnaps Olivia. That brings the duo to a sleazy rat bar with a strangely curvy mouse as a burlesque singer. That leads to a trap, but Basil figures out a genius escape. It turns out Ratigan plans to replace the Queen with a clockwork robot and use it to give himself power. Ending in a thrilling climax inside Big Ben that uses impressive computer animated gear movement. The increasingly monstrous Ratigan falls to his death and Basil uses his quick wits to survive. The songs are scarce, but “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” is a highlight. By my powers of deduction, The Great Mouse Detective was just what Disney needed to encourage bigger and better things.