Alex is a School of Visual Arts graduate with a passion for media, writing and animation. He writes reviews for film, television and games.
Throughout Disney's history, Goofy has been a unique character unlike any other. While Goofy is usually depicted as a clumsy comedic oaf, there have been many different takes on the character that shaped generations. During the 50s, he acted more adult than today's cartoons; he was seen smoking or having road rage. Four decades later, an animated sitcom called Goof Troop aired on the Disney Afternoon programming block as a love letter and homage to the classic Goofy cartoons. Around the same decade, A Goofy Movie was released theatrically. Although the movie received a mixed reception and performed weakly, it gradually became a cult classic among millennials and is considered an underrated Disney gem. So, it's no surprise that a follow-up would be made, especially during the period when the Disney company was interested in making direct-to-video sequels. A direct-to-video sequel seemed to be the only choice. So, how does one continue the story of Goofy and Max?
When Max (voiced by Jason Marsden) and his friends leave for college and compete in the X Games, Goofy (voiced by Bill Farmer) coincidentally enrolls the same college to earn the college degree he never received.
Two Different Stories, Same Charm as The First Film
To get things out of the way, it is worth noting that no prior viewing of Goof Troop is necessary before watching it, unless some context is needed. Strangely enough, this sequel acts as self-contained as the previous film, since most of the side characters (with a couple of exceptions) are absent nor mentioned, especially Max's girlfriend Roxanne. To this day, fans are speculating on the outcome of their relationship. Then again, this was probably intentional to avoid rehashing the first film...for the most part. If there was one issue that the movie repeated was the relationship between Goofy and Max, even though it was clear that Max learned to be himself before. But, it's best to wait till we get there.
Conceptually speaking, this is not a bad idea for a sequel and does make fans wonder: What if Max goes to college and how would Goofy feel? The first act does answer that question in a visual and emotional manner that anyone would relate to. After the first act, the rest of the story would be executed as a mixed bag.
Remember when the first movie was trendy but got easily overshadowed by its positive elements? Well, since the movie is called An Extremely Goofy Movie, it is not a surprise that the movie wants to remind its audience that this is about extreme sports...for Max, at least. Besides the idea of attending college, Max, P.J. and Bobby spent half of the movie training and competing for the college X Games against the undefeated rival team, the Gamma Mu Mu fraternity. It's quite understandable that extreme sports were a popular trend around that decade. Yet, the movie tries hard to make it as serious as possible. It is also no coincidence that the X Games is displayed and advertised throughout certain scenes since Disney owns ESPN. To be fair, it kind of makes sense for Max (and P.J. for Goof Troop fans) since they had experience riding skateboards. Here, they act like more veteran athletes instead of casual riders. The story also has cliches and tropes that anyone would expect or predict out of college movies.
Suddenly, whenever Goofy is on-screen, that is where the story shines and reminds us what made the previous film work: comedy and charm. At first glance, some would compare this movie as a "rip-off" to the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School. It is very important to address that calling stories in movies, especially animated features, as "not original" is lazy criticism. Sure, these conceptually sound similar but the EXECUTION helps distinguish them from one another. In Back to School, Dangerfield played a charismatic billionaire who attended the same college as his son, not just because he was uneducated, but he wanted to help spice up his son's unhappy college life. In this movie, Goofy attended the same college as Max because his empty nest syndrome accidentally got him fired from his job and needed to earn a college degree in order to find another one. It so happens to be a set-up for a humorous punchline.
What IS a Goofy movie with humor? When comparing to the first film, it is as funny as before whether it involves Goofy's slapstick and occasional legit funny lines from the characters. Even some of the animation was given a little more comedic effect, which will be discussed soon. Of course, like last time, it also does balance out with genuine and heartwarming moments. Besides the first, Goofy also finds love while struggling to pass his exams. Although, the sequel doesn't have musical numbers, it does have a decent soundtrack of 70s songs containing "Right Back Where We Started From", "Shake Your Groove Thing", "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", and even The Partridge Family theme song "Come On, Get Happy." The story is definitely not as extreme as it sounds, but it is a Goofy movie nonetheless.
Demoted Animation with Effort
It is a fact that the animation quality of a direct-to-video movie won't match the standards as cinematic animation. Even A Goofy Movie still fooled and astounded its audiences to look authentically cinematic with a $18 million budget. So, the budget for the sequel would've cost less than $18 million. Despite its downgrade, the animation is surprisingly solid where the artists put in a lot of effort in what materials were given to them.
Many familiar characters retain their appearances from both the show and the first film, with Bobby standing out for having a radically changed design. The character designs are still anthropomorphic as a homage to the classic Disney cartoons where the most noticeable difference is that the character animation can be best described as "not as smooth as before, but a step-up from television quality animation." As mentioned before, the comedy gave the animation a little more cartoonish style, but not too exaggerated or uncanny. Goofy was well-known for providing that type of movement. Yet, some of the characters are given more humorous animations. A prime example is the film's antagonist Bradley Uppercrust III where his facial expressions and body language are energetic yet questionable at the same time. In other words, these characters are trying to act...well, goofy.
Besides Goofy's house and neighborhood, Spoonerville doesn't have much to offer this time. The only interesting location that the town gave us was Beekin's Toy Factory, where Goofy worked and lost his job. Most of the movie takes place at an unnamed college and it is looks as average as your typical college. Again, the only interesting location is the coffee shop where the lighting and neon colors help bring out the mood whether relaxing through poetry or partying hard in huge crowds. In fact, a major upside to the background animation is that the colors are brighter and the locations are nicely detailed. The most visually intriguing scene was Goofy's fantasy scene through the song "Come On, Get Happy".
To give credit where credit is due, the animation on whether the characters board, blade or perform tricks are handled well and fun to watch. Even the College X Games competition does capture the scope and feel of an actual sporting event. There was even effort thrown into the choreography whenever the characters dance, including the disco scene with Goofy and Sylvia. Speaking of which, the lighting was also effective on both the scenery and characters. Let's not forget a bit of CGI primarily for vehicle and depth shots. Yes, it is a direct-to-video movie with a downgrade, but the passion is still there.
Same Old Characters, New Alumni
As a continuation to A Goofy Movie, it is a safe assumption to not reintroduce who these characters are. Many of the characters retain their personalities while the movie presents new characters that are either memorable or one-note for the sake of a joke.
Goofy is once again the compassionate father and the heart of the movie. His naivety and lumbering nature are still present, but his determination is put to the test, both literally and figuratively, when he must learn to balance his studies, romance and relationship with Max on campus. Speaking of which, Max is Goofy's son whose new college life becomes a disaster when he has to deal with his embarrassing and competing in the College X Games. Now, it has been established in the previous movie that Max accepted himself to be a "Goof." However, the major problem with Max is that he was written and acted like he never learned to begin with. One could make the argument that he acted this way because of how college students would act: living a free life away from their parents. Plus, Max constantly getting embarrassed by his father has been the point since the beginning with Goof Troop. Then again, the movie acts so standalone, that it doesn't reference much. Max acted more like a jerk where he is more focused on his independence and training than him concerning about his dad joining the Gammas. Despite his behavior, Max is deep down a decent guy, it's just that the writing could've been tweaked.
As for the rest of the familiar faces, Pete is the same character as he was before, yet doesn't appear that much. Pete's son P.J. (Pete Junior) and the eccentric Bobby are Max's best friends that act more like his loyal teammates and have their funny moments.
Once we get to the new alumni on campus, they deliver a mix of authenticity and laughs. The most supportive of the cast is Goofy's love interest, Sylvia Marple. She is the college librarian who shares Goofy's interest of collecting 1970s pop culture memorabilia. Is it too soon to mention that Gilligan's Island exists in this cartoon world? Anyway, the chemistry between her and Goofy is ironically as sweet as Max and Roxanne's relationship in the first movie. Their night date scene alone is worth watching for those hoping Goofy would find love since there is no clear answer about his wife. And then, we have our antagonist Bradley Uppercrust III. On paper, he is your generic college bully and leader of the Gamma team. But, thanks to Jeff Bennett's performance, Bradley can be persuasive and political when he arranges to get what he wants. If something doesn't go to his plan, his arrogance and ego would stop him at nothing. There's even one obvious yet metaphorical scene to sum up how bad this guy is. He even cheats with no remorse and treats his teammates like a pack of dogs...surreally that they are anthropomorphic dog-like characters to begin with. For the latter, the rest of the Gammas act like comic relief henchmen, almost like the Beagle Boys for any Disney experts out there. The only exception among the team is Tank, Bradley's second-in command. Outside being the muscle of the group, Brad Garrett helps give his character some charisma.
Just like the first movie, there are some minor characters that do leave out a humorous impression. They would range from the beret poet girl who becomes P.J.'s love interest, Goofy's elderly yet short-tempered boss and the two sportscasters that would occasionally butt heads with each other on camera. The voice acting is also beneficial to the characters' personalities. You will either crack a smile whenever Bill Farmer or Bebe Neuwirth go for an emotional moment or laughing hard whenever Rob Paulsen, Jeff Bennett, Pauly Shore, and/or Brad Garrett deliver what they do best. While some characters haven't changed, there are still others to like and remember by.
Regardless of whatever reputation these Disney direct-to-video sequels have, An Extremely Goofy Movie is overall a solid follow-up to A Goofy Movie. Though it may cater a little much to the "extreme" name with the extreme sports theme and lower production values, the rest of the movie still carries the Goofy name with humor and heart, along with some nice animation, hit-and-miss characters, fitting soundtrack, and entertaining voices. It is recommended for families that would experience college life and any Goofy fans young and old for fun and laughs. For those that have a picky opinion on Disney direct-to-videos, it would be ranked up there with the good ones, alongside Aladdin & the King of Thieves and Bambi II. You don't have to be extreme; just be Goofy.