As Renata mentioned in her post, we’re expanding on the recent 90s Animated Movies episode of our podcast, Overrated/Underrated. My initial plan had been to expand upon A Goofy Movie, my personal selection for that episode. In hindsight, though, it seems that I managed to convey most of my thoughts on this wonderful film (so wonderful that it was actually given a theatrical release, unlike some other movie mentioned on the blog this week) during the actual episode. What I didn’t get to do, however, was discuss its oft-maligned sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie. Rest assured, dear readers, that I will remedy that right now.
“Like Father, Like son. You’re always number one. Best buddies. Best pals.”
Ah, the iconic opening lyrics of the theme to Goof Troop, the 1992 animated series that ran for two seasons as one of the staples of the fabled Disney Afternoon. At the heart of this series was the close-knit relationship between Goofy, a single father and presumed widower, and Max, his junior-high aged son. Despite the many ups and downs that they face in their episodic adventures, they somehow, as the theme song says, “always seem to work things out.”Alas, this closeness seems to have faded as Max grew into his rebellious high-school years, but it was not completely lost. That was the lesson shown to us in A Goofy Movie: as our children grow, so must the ways in which we relate to them, and as we grow, so must we gain a new understanding of our parents. And grow their relationship did, until it gave us the wonderful payoff at the movie’s climax: a renewed sense of understanding and respect between a father and his nearly-adult son.
An Extremely Manufactured Conflict
Of course, the sequel disregards all of this character growth in favor of rehashing the exact same themes of Max struggling for independence and adulthood by railing at helicopter-dad Goofy who is facing his deepest fear, losing his “little boy.”
The film opens with Goofy and Pete throwing a barbecue in celebration of the last night before their sons leave for college. Goofy is visibly distraught, and this is played brilliantly against Pete’s notable glee at becoming a “free man” the second his son is gone. Seriously, I knew I was in for a treat the moment Pete shouted “Come on, son. I can’t miss you if you won’t leave!”
While Goofy is practically in mourning, though, Max is ecstatic at the prospect of embracing his own future. This obviously means going to college with the main goal of winning the ESPN College X Games with his teammates: PJ, Max’s perennial best-bud, and Bobby, the Pauly Shore analogue who is actually voiced by Pauly Shore. Did I mention that this movie came out in 2000? Because it leans into it… HARD! But we’ll get to more of that later.
After some rather abrupt goodbyes the following morning, the boys head for college in an era-appropriate teen road trip montage. Meanwhile, Goofy goes about his workday on a toy assembly line. Still unable to shake the funk brought about by empty nest syndrome, Goofy’s lack of concentration causes what can only be described as a catastrophic destruction of factory equipment (and, one could also assume, several workman’s comp claims from injured co-workers) and is promptly fired.
Sponsored by The X Games
Max and his friends, however, are having a wonderful time adjusting to college life, and their radical skateboarding skills not only land them a sure spot on the College X Games roster, but also manage to allow Max to impress several co-eds along the way, attention Max is happy to receive.
“But what about Roxanne?” I hear you cry. Yes, what about Roxanne, indeed. She was, after all, Max’s love interest from A Goofy Movie and the main driving force for nearly all of his actions therein, so she is of course treated with the same care and reverence as everything else from the previous movie. That is to say, she is never mentioned and may not have actually existed at all. Moving on…
Max and his crew manage to earn the respect of their peers and the enmity of their X Game rivals, the Dick Dastardly-esque Gamma Mu Mu fraternity and their hilariously named leader, Bradly Uppercrust the Third. We are also briefly introduced to Beret Girl (seriously, that’s how she’s even referenced in the credits), a Beatnik version of Jessica Rabbit with a walk-cycle to match. Immediately repulsed by Bobby’s lascivious attempts to lure her into his cheesy grasp (I’m not even joking… his hands are still covered in Easy Cheese, like it’s the only remaining tie-in to the previous movie) in favor of the cool, poetic charms of PJ himself.
Back on the home-front, this whimsical, animated movie brings us non-stop action as we follow Goofy’s adventures at… the unemployment office, where he is told that, because he never finished college, he will never be able to find another job. Nothing instills fear in the younger generation like a clinically depressed cartoon icon. Remember, kids, make sure you go to college, or you’ll end up alone, unemployed, and depressed just like your old pal Goofy. Ahyuk.
This Campus isn’t Big Enough for the Both of Us
This new information, of course, leaves but one avenue for Goofy to follow: he must go back to college to earn his degree… at the same school Max is attending. Predictably, this does not sit well with Max, who is both frustrated and embarrassed by the now constant presence of his father. To make matters worse, Goofy seems to develop some sort of mid-life crisis/psychotic-break hybrid and begins to dress and act precisely as he did during his first college experience in the 1970s.
“Surely the disco motif is just a throwaway gag,” I hear you say, and you could be forgiven for thinking that. Sadly, not only is it a recurring gag, it also serves as the catalyst for Goofy’s romantic relationship with the campus’s resident “hot librarian,” Sylvia Marpole, who is fascinated with 70s culture and memorabilia. Max, while initially disgusted by his father’s May-December romance, quickly realizes that this is the perfect distraction to keep his father out of his hair. Just in case that doesn’t work, though, he manages to foist Goofy off on the Gamma Mu Mu crew as the newest member of their College X Games team (bet you thought we were done with that subplot, huh? No such luck).
Even with all this, Goofy continues to encroach upon Max’s life. Even worse, Goofy’s idiot-savant performance in the X Games qualifying round easily eclipses Max’s run, leaving Max’s team as the lowest scoring group to make it to the next round. This culminates in the predictable blow-up wherein Max tells Goofy to get out of his life. Goofy spirals into despair, resulting in failing grades, standing up Sylvia, and contemplating quitting school altogether. After an accidentally inspirational talk with Pete, though, Goofy snaps the hell out of that shit, wins Sylvia back, and goes to quit the Gamma team so that he can focus on his studies.
Love Will Bring Us Together
Of course, he stumbles in just in time to overhear the Gammas plotting to cheat in order to win the finals, because convenient timing is convenient. Goofy runs to warn his son, but Max, in an attempt to show how grown and mature he is, acts like an obstinate child and refuses to listen to a word his father has to say.
Fast forward to the end of the finals, where only Max’s team and the Gammas remain, and lo and behold, it turns out Goofy was right. This realization is a little bittersweet for Max as it doesn’t come until after the Gammas have literally launched PJ into another damn zip code with an explosive rocket! Hindsight is 20/20, I guess. This turn of events leaves Max and Bobby one member shy of a full team, so Max turns to the only person he can in order to avoid having to forfeit: dear old dad.
And Goofy steps in like a champ. Together, he and Max win the finals and even manage to make friends with some of the Gammas along the way. Everyone has a happy ending and gets just what they want. Max has won his coveted yet meaningless “college level eXtreme sports” championship, and Goofy earns his diploma and a promising relationship with Sylvia. Even PJ somehow managed to avoid certain death in order to return to Beret Girl. And Bobby? He presumably Easy Cheesed himself into a cholesterol-induced coma and was never heard from again.
Right Back Where We Started From
And there you have it, a 90 minute ESPN commercial that brought us right back to the same lessons we learned from the previous movie. Except… that’s really not fair at all. For all my hyperbolous ribbing, I actually really like this movie. Hell, I have voluntarily watched it enough times to do this complete write-up from memory, and simply writing this makes me want to watch it again.
Sure, the setup is groan-inducing, and the story beats are all laughably telegraphed. But the movie knows that, and it knows that we know it, too. So, instead of trying to force this down your throat as some quasi-believable pablum for which even Coleridge didn’t have enough opium to suspend his disbelief, it laughs at itself. And it invites you to come along for the ride. And it really is a fun ride with a lot of heart.
So, do yourself a favor and give it a watch, relax, realize that it’s a joke, and enjoy the fact that you’re in on it. And then enjoy the fact that I purposely didn’t spoil the disco club number for you. 😉
You can check out previous podcast deep dives below: