Your first thought is probably, “OK. But so what? Who cares?”
To which I reply, “Probably not many people. Nor is the fact of its terribleness at all important in the grand scheme of things.”
But I am compelled to write about it anyway because I’ve watched this abomination multiple times and need to get some things off my chest about it.
You may think I’m choosing an all-too-easy target. After all, this movie was never intended to be high art. I understand this. But An Extremely Goofy Movie (Disney, 2000)represents a different type of animal (ha) than the typical unambitious children’s movie. I mean, it is so bad. It’s the type of thing that forces us as viewers to rethink our belief of how uninspired and unnecessary a creation can be. And it doesn’t do so in a so-bad-it’s-good manner. It stinks in simple ways. In complex ways. In obvious ways. In subtle ways. In all ways I can think of. And probably in many more ways I haven’t even thought of or noticed yet. But let me emphasize again: it does not stink in any entertaining or enjoyable way.
It’s available to stream through Netflix, and being a Disney movie, it probably gets a fair amount of viewings from parents just wanting to put something on for their kids that has recognizable characters. Understandable. But also unfortunate, as this movie showcases the worst of Disney and also the worst of Netflix. The former because it’s the sort of straight-to-video dreck that Disney occasionally does with sequels to cash in on a property, and the latter because (as anyone with Netflix knows) the streaming service is drowning in awful movies and TV shows since companies are much more willing to license their crap to Netflix for any money than they are anything that they think they can make more money from on their own. Thus I see the movie as emblematic of a larger problem within digital streaming services. Obviously that’s a different and larger discussion. I bring it up briefly here only to offer a little more support for why I would expend so much effort on a movie that I so loathe.
In my discussion below, I will try to include enough information so that you need not have seen the movie to understand my criticisms. Just let me quickly set up its basic premise: Goofy’s son Max is going off to college; Max and his two buddies’ goal for college is to win the College X Games; Goofy is sad about Max leaving. Premise completed, now on to some plot points.
A fair amount of time is spent in the beginning showing Goofy and Max interacting the night before Max leaves for college. The scene culminates in Goofy giving to Max an old counting machine (or something), just as Goofy’s dad had given the item to him when he was Max’s age. OK, fine. Sounds like a plot device, doesn’t it? By that I mean that Max will transparently feign thankfulness to his dad (which he indeed does), which signals to us the audience that he is ungrateful; then at some point the machine will reenter the plot to serve some positive purpose, and then Max will realize its value and/or the value of the gesture of his dad having given it to him. But guess what? We never see the machine again, not in Max’s room at home or at college, and it is never mentioned again. So why was it introduced in the first place? You could cut it out of the scene completely and it wouldn’t make any difference. Though for this movie, that’s true of just about anything. But you get what I mean.
Maybe you can forgive something being mentioned just once like this and wasting our time. Fine. But what about something that comes up three times? By a common rule of writing (and particularly prevalent in Shakespeare, as any decent English teacher hammers into students’ heads), something appearing three times in a work is a conscious or subconscious signifier that it’s important or has some significance to the characters and/or plot. In this movie, there are three instances of Goofy with a horseshoe. The first, he’s using the game of horseshoes to illustrate how the three college-bound teens need to focus to succeed. The second is when Max asks his father to join his team at the X-Games and Goofy mentions that it’s a good thing that he has his lucky horseshoe. So OK, it appears we’re set up for the third appearance being something important. And sure enough, it comes when bad guy Bradley Uppercrust III is about to set off a rocket secretly planted on Max’s skateboard that will send him out of control as he races toward the finish line. Just as Bradley is about to press a remote to set off the rocket, Goofy pulls out his lucky horseshoe, focuses it on Bradley, throws it a him, and hits him in the face, thus knocking the remote out of his hand. Well, look at that! They actually developed a plot point that ended up making sense! Right? Nope, not quite. Instead, Bradley then falls onto the remote and hits the button on it anyway. Huh? So why was our time wasted three times with this BS about the horseshoe if it didn’t even end up mattering? It also undermines everything Goofy has said about how important focusing is, as it didn’t even matter whether he’d focused or not since hitting Bradley with the horseshoe didn’t change or accomplish anything. Good lesson for kids, ey?
A quick aside on the cast. Max’s two friends are among the primary supporting characters, yet even if you watch the movie multiple times, I guarantee you will still have no idea what their names are. What you will think, though, is that the annoying one in the sunglasses talks and acts in a beyond-lame Pauly Shore 90s shtick. Who voices this annoying idiot? Why, it is Pauly Shore!
Let’s return to plot points. The day Max leaves for college (or the day after…or the next week…who the hell knows?), Goofy is at his job at a toy factory and daydreaming a lot of Max. On his work line, he accidentally bumps the conveyor belt’s "Speed” lever to “Fast” and is overwhelmed by the speed at which a bunch of robot parts that he’s supposed to assemble are coming down the line. So he moves the line’s belt to “Reverse” and eventually gets sucked up into the pipe himself where the parts were coming from. Fair enough; I know this is a cartoon and on top of that a Goofy one. Unreal things like this can happen, and there are tons that do throughout the movie. But Goofy is then sucked down the pipe back to its origin, which is a huge metal silo that explodes when Goofy goes into it. He is then shot through the building’s roof high up into the sky and subsequently fired. Fine. But why would a collection of different parts be coming from a single enclosed silo/bin? And why would it explode? Here and elsewhere, you may think I’m being too nitpicky for a movie like this. I accept that criticism, but let me remind you that they don’t have to do stupid things like this. Couldn’t the writers have just given this a few more seconds of thought and done something that makes sense? If they had, it would have been just as effective for the story. Maybe even more so. Instead, they either just didn’t care or thought it was critical that Goofy explode the biggest metal container possible because that’s what would be funniest. Neither explanation seems satisfying.
So Goofy joins Max at college to finish his degree after being fired from his job. In the college’s library, he’s shown sitting with Max excitedly talking about all the educational activities he has planned for them to do together. To get him off Max’s case, Max walks Goofy over to the main desk in the library to get his library card. The librarian Ms. Marpole begins lecturing Goofy on the importance of the library and handing him a ton of pamphlets, and Max first slowly then quickly walks away from them. Good work, Max! You ditched your pops finally! Except, in what world is signing up for a library card at college a laborious undertaking that involves tons of explanation and pamphlets? This may seem like another minor example, but there are numerous little things like this throughout what in reality is a short movie but feels overly long because it has so much nonsensical, half-assed plot filler like this.
When Max and his two buds first ride around the campus on their skateboards, their skills catch the eye of the Gamma Mu Mu fraternity and its leader, the aforementioned Bradley Uppercrust III, who have won the College X Games the past few years. Bradley and his guys then follow them to a coffee shop called the Bean Scene. There is loads of idiotic crap that occurs here, but I will limit myself to just one thing. Max rebuffs Bradley’s offer to join the Gammas because the offer didn’t include his nameless buddies, so the two then make a bet on the outcome of the College X Games: the loser has to be the other’s “towel boy.” OK, so they’ve added some additional stakes to the competition! And this is maybe even a decent setup for some comedy once Max wins! Cuz come on, we know he won’t lose. And he doesn’t. So towards the end of the movie, on the winner’s podium after Max has won, Bradley approaches him and mentions the bet and his willingness to comply with it. But Max just shrugs it off and instead lets Bradley’s former crony Tank launch him into the blimp circling overhead. So why include that bet in the first place? It had no consequence or payoff in any way. This is a cartoon, so it’s not like they shot footage and couldn’t edit around it or even change dialogue. The many, many instances like this absolutely baffle me as to what the thought process was by the writers.
Going back a bit in the movie: when Goofy and Max’s relationship is on the rocks, which affects Goofy’s performance in school, Goofy then decides to refocus his life. He decides to study hard and quit the Gammas’ X Games team, which he had joined earlier in the movie. (Don’t ask.) So then why does the ensuing montage showing this “refocusing” have him simultaneously studying and doing physical exercise? Push ups while reading, running on a treadmill while reading, etc. The physical exercise has nothing to do with anything. It’s never been indicated that Goofy is out of shape or unhealthy, or that somehow being more physically fit will help his studies or his relationship with Max, which are the two things he claims he’s now focusing on. And again, it’s not because of the upcoming X Games because he was already quitting the Gammas’ team. It’s as if the writers and/or animators just thought, “We can’t have a montage of him just sitting reading and studying, so let’s have him also working out!” I like to imagine that at least one person in the room when this imaginary comment was made embarrassingly thought to him-or-herself, “How am I going to explain my involvement in this to my friends and family? Oh well, at least I have a job.”
In the final event of the X Games, when it's Max and his two pals versus the Gammas, at the starting gate Bradley has one of Max’s teammates shot off into the horizon by a rocket the Gammas had secretly planted on his roller blades. (If you’re paying attention, YES, they used the exact same planted-rocket plot device again…and also one other time earlier in the movie that I haven’t even mentioned.) Max makes an appeal on TV to his dad (Goofy, obviously) to come join their team so they aren’t disqualified. A big deal is made of the fact that (1) they would have been disqualified with only two people, and (2) Goofy made it to the start platform just in time with less than a second to spare. I'm belaboring describing all this, as the movie does, because what then follows is complete nonsense. Not only does first Max’s other buddy drop out of the ensuing rollerblade/bicycle/skateboard race, but then so do Goofy and both of Bradley’s teammates. Max and Bradley are the only two that finish. So why did it matter in the first place whether they had a full team? I think the movie’s logic is that all the others were disqualified as the final race went on, but even that doesn’t make sense. That would mean Max’s Pauly-Shore-friend was disqualified when he went off the track and into mud on the bike portion of the race. Got it. But right before that, the Gammas switched the route on the rollerblade race and sent Max, Pauly, and Goofy completely off the official track and down a long set of stairs that ended up being a shortcut. So they all would have been disqualified right then and there, and the Gammas would have won. Also, wouldn’t the entire team get disqualified if one of its members were? If not, the other two members of a team could just take out the three members of the opposing team, not caring about being disqualified since their third team member could then cruise to victory. UGH, I can’t even write about this nonsense anymore. I may not have written it clearly enough to where you can understand what I’m saying here, but I just can’t try any more. It’s not worth it.
That said, I just have to mention one more different example. Because if you don’t believe a movie can sustain such a high level of dumbness right to its very last scene and very last sentence, allow me to change your mind. Goofy literally drives off into the sunset with Ms. Marpole in a convertible. He then says to her, “Whaddya say we go for—-” and she interrupts with, “—-a picnic?” He continues, "And then maybe even a—-", to which she interrupts with “—-walk on the beach? I’d love to.” Goofy then replies to her, with a grin on his face, “Somehow I knew you would say that!” You might imagine it had been shown throughout the movie that Ms. Marpole predicts what he’s going to say or regularly knows what he’s thinking, but it hasn’t been. Or you might think that they’d previously gone on a picnic or been near a beach and had enjoyed them, thus her prediction of Goofy’s words and his knowledge that they are things he knows she would want to do. Uh uh. My only guess for the reason for this exchange is that one of the writers heard something similar in a movie once and it seemed like a good way to end a movie, so they inserted it in here totally out of its original context and unrelated to anything in this specific movie. It’s all the more disappointing because right before this there actually was a joke made that was appropriately related to the rest of the movie. I know, hard to believe! But there was. Before Goofy and Ms. Marpole left in the convertible, they told Max that Goofy had gotten a teaching position at the university so he could continue to be close to Max. Max then gives a pained look. This joke makes sense because they’ve developed throughout the movie how much Max had been looking forward to leaving home to be on his own at college and then how it was a drag to have his dad on campus when Goofy joins him there. For once, the writers understood what a joke is and executed one properly! Goofy says “Just kidding!” soon after, they all laugh, and then they drive off. The movie should have ended here. Instead, the final scene is the baffling exchange I’ve described above between Goofy and Ms. Marpole.
So that concludes my comments on specific plot elements. But let me clarify that though the length of this post may make it seem as if I’m being exhaustive listing the deficiencies of this movie, that is certainly not the case. I could also discuss the cliché and fatuous soundtrack, the annoying ESPN commentators at the X Games, grades being posted by name on a public bulletin board, much more about Goofy and Ms. Marpole’s relationship, a disco dancing scene, Max perplexingly giving his X Games trophy to Goofy as a graduation gift, and a lot more.
I’ve mentioned the movie’s writers a few times throughout, but I realize it’s impossible to say who’s most to blame. There may have been loads of talented people working on it, for all I know, from the lowliest production assistant up to the director. It could be some higher-up at Disney that’s to blame, having given a strict directive to make the movie quickly and cheaply and for everyone to just keep it moving forward without giving anything related to it much thought or effort. Or maybe this truly was the result of giving below-average people the most below-average project. Who knows. But for at least some partial validation of my numerous references to the writers’ deficiencies, a quick check on IMDB shows that their careers were pretty much finished after this movie. That could be due to unrelated circumstances, of course, but nonetheless it seems worth noting.
Phew, almost done. I think I’m feeling better getting this all out. Just let me wrap things up with a couple more general comments.
First, it’s plainly obvious how little Disney itself regards this movie. One can’t use the words “open” or “loose” when describing a company that regularly locks its content in figurative vaults for various time periods and is notoriously litigious about any unauthorized use of its intellectual property. Yet An Extremely Goofy Movie is included in Netflix streaming, as noted previously, and also has been available illegally for streaming on YouTube (i.e., some person just uploaded it) for over a year. Disney doesn’t even care! That is very telling.
And lastly, I want to say that I sincerely hope I haven’t piqued your interest to watch this movie. I am not joking. There may be a tendency to watch a few minutes of it because I make it seem so bad that it would be entertaining to watch. (The so-bad-it’s-good mentality I mentioned early on.) Please don’t. There are so many wonderful things in the world. This movie deserves absolutely zero hours, minutes, or seconds of your time. If you’ve read this far, I’ve already made you spend too much of your time on it and feel guilty enough for doing so. Please do not spend any more by actually watching it. I beseech you.
APPENDIX: additional words and phrases I’d considered using in writing this
atrocious, dire, dolorous, dreadful, dregs, dross, excruciating, horrid, inept, irksome, joyless, obnoxious, pestilence, tedious, unexciting, wretched, every swear word I know, every religion’s deity’s/deities’ name(s) used in vain