July 7, 2013

Underappreciated Disney Characters Part 2

Welcome back to our ongoing tribute to Disney's most overlooked supporting players. Last week, we focused on Col. Hathi and Alice's Horn Ducks. Today, we've got another unjustly ignored pair of troupers.
Disney Joanna Rescuers lizard goanna Underappreciated

Bursting onto the scene in The Rescuers Down Under, Joanna the goanna (I used to think she was a komodo dragon) is the funniest villain sidekick in Disney history. She doesn't speak a word, but her brilliant animation will delight you--and make your skin crawl at the same time.

She's incredibly important to the film, because this movie's villain, McLeach, is one of Disney's most hateful and frightening scumbags. There's no way to lighten up an eagle-killing kidnapper who thinks nothing of tossing a human child to crocodiles. Enter Joanna, who--even though she's on McLeach's side--provides some welcome comedy during the film's darkest moments.


Joanna has pretty much vanished in the company's eye, and that's Disney's loss. Can you imagine how many Joanna plush or rubber lizards they could sell every day in Adventureland? How about a Joanna hat? And wouldn't she be a natural at Disney's Animal Kingdom? By the way, if you've never seen the excellent Rescuers Down Under, it's streaming on Netflix right now!

Next up, we've got man's--and woman's--best friend...
Disney Bruno Cinderella dog underappreciated character

This image captures my favorite moment in Disney's Cinderella. Look at it from Bruno the dog's perspective:

1) He's just been through a humiliating night as a human.

2) He had to hike home after Cindy forgot the one thing the Fairy Godmother told her to remember.

3) His well-deserved slumber is now rudely interrupted by over-caffeinated birds who only serve to remind him that Cinderella never sewed any clothes for him, oh no sirree.
Everything--Cinderella's future, Gus-Gus's life, the fate of the Kingdom--depends on how quickly he can wake up. And, once he does snap out of dreamland, he delivers justice like only a true-blue dog can do. Bruno is the real hero of this film. Okay, the mice get some credit, too.

The moral of Disney's Cinderella has nothing to do with wishes or magic: If you're nice to people, you increase the odds that, someday, your friends just might come through for you when you need them most. All that's summed up perfectly in Bruno.


Bruno's gotten the occasional merchandising nod: I once owned a fun little PVC statuette of the ol' hound. Being a dog has its advantages when it comes to product potential. Of course, there's also the two video sequels, but the less said about them the better.

Join us next time for part 3. In the meantime, who are your favorite underappreciated Disney toons?

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