Do not let people tell you that A Goofy Movie is not a Disney classic.
In an effort to rescue Goofy from a 60-year rut of clumsiness and bad clothing, the 1995 animated feature (which turns 20 on April 7) transformed the Disney staple into a three-dimensional character by giving him, among other things, a moody teenage son. (Goofy’s kid, Max, was first introduced in the 1992-1993 TV series Goof Troop, but as a chipper pre-adolescent; he was aged up for the movie.)
Fortunately, teen angst often comes with a soundtrack—which may be why certain Millennials still remember A Goofy Movie so fondly. The film gave us at least one song that, in my opinion, is every bit as iconic as the one where Ariel counts all the mason jars she stole.
Yet A Goofy Movie seems to have been comparatively left in the dust, languishing on VHS for 20 years as too many people ignored its virtues—harping instead on the questions it raised. (Yes, he’s a dog; no, Pluto can’t talk; and honestly, it is none of your business why they wear gloves.) So as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this lost gem, allow me to remind you that it’s the music that’s kept this underappreciated father-son story close to my heart. Sure, it’s no Hercules 4: Something’s Wrong with Pegasus, but it deserves your love just the same.
If nothing else, A Goofy Movie deserves respect as a musical theater endeavor thanks to its joyous ensemble opener, set on the last day of school as Max Goof and all of his classmates belt out their dreams for summer vacation. (Basically, they all boil down to various schemes the kids plan to stay ignorant while school is out). But “After Today” rings true because it’s a classic “Protagonist Walks Through Town in Mid-Morning” song, a beloved musical theater tradition where everyone harmonizes and choreography is improvised yet flawless.
A Goofy Movie takes the trope a step further by also making that song an “I want” number, giving Max a bold raison d’etre (to impress his shy ladyfriend Roxanne, arguably the Shailene Woodley of the Goof people). It’s just like Beauty and the Beast, except there are a bunch of teenage dogs making fun of Max for being a loser instead of French people talking about how absolutely awful Belle is for reading.
Plus, there’s an epic nod to Grease that you definitely didn’t notice as a child.
Despite the film’s many merits, there is really only one reason to watch: Powerline, the most popular singer in the Goofy Movie cinematic universe. He’s sort of an amalgam of Michael Jackson and Prince, with the modern sex appeal of Justin Timberlake and the showmanship of Usher when he was still relevant.
“Stand Out” is catchy as hell, even if it’s not Powerline’s best song; for that, skip ahead to the very end of this list. But it’s the song Max chooses when he hijacks a school assembly to impress Roxanne—with his sheer disregard for both school rules and a teenager’s budget.
“On the Open Road”
Lest you forget, Goofy is actually in this movie, too. No, his songs are not necessarily the ones you’re dying to play on repeat—in fact, most would actively avoid them. But there’s subtle charm in Goofy’s simple serenade to the beauty of nature as he forces Max on a road trip against his will. The song begins with the world’s natural sounds, like “Cell Block Tango” with more jangling keys and less of the lady who says “Lipshitz.” You simply can’t ignore the infectious enthusiasm Goofy feels for being stuck in traffic.
And even though Max is a total goof-hole the entire trip (“I’d rather have detention,” he says, because he is grossly undisciplined), he still keeps the tempo. You just can’t fault him for that.
“Lester’s Possum Park”
Don’t listen to this song.
“Nobody Else But You”
The core of A Goofy Movie is the struggle between Goofy’s desire to be a part of Max’s life, and Max’s desire to be his own person. When their road trip goes haywire and they’re stuck together drifting down a river on top of a car (just like in Foxcatcher!), both Goofs are finally forced to reveal their long-simmering feelings to each other. What better way to do so than through a duet? Over the course of a heartwarming and not-at-all dangerous river ride, father and son reconcile thanks to a shared love of musical theater. It’s perhaps the movie’s emotional crux, if you don’t count the absolute perfection that is the very next song.
“I 2 I/Eye to Eye”
Ahhh… we’ve reached it. The true masterpiece of A Goofy Movie, the Citizen Kane of 1995 animated musical numbers (no offense, Pocahontas.) Officially, it’s called “I 2 I,” but I refuse to accept that style choice even after 20 years.
Here’s why the song works on so many levels. On one hand, you’ve got the sheer climax of narrative, which at this point has found Goofy and Max teaming up to find a way to get Max into the Powerline concert in Los Angeles. With father and son now united—seeing “eye to eye,” if you will, but not “I 2 I” because that’s awful—they sneak backstage by taking the shape of instruments. (Goofy’s a guitar! It is hilarious.) Soon after, Goofy accidentally arrives onstage inside one of Powerline’s set pieces. Max soon joins him, fulfilling his dream of impressing Roxanne by crashing the concert…and with the added bonus of having his dad beside him. That’s precious.
There’s the song itself, an explosive dance-pop power anthem that bursts with undertones of MJ and Prince (and anachronistic shades of Bruno Mars). The chorus is catchier than anything Rihanna has released in the last five years, and if you’ve ever found yourself playing this song on a road trip with a bunch of twentysomethings, you’ll know that it is completely normal to know the syllabic breakdown of the call-and-repeat “Seeing it! Eye to e-eye!” section. It’s the new “When You Believe” riff.
And finally, there’s the Perfect Cast. All movie long, Max has been utterly embarrassed by Goofy’s overly gesticular method for fishing. But when Max and Goofy find themselves standing idly on stage, they employ the Perfect Cast—and naturally, it’s the most incredible dance move anyone at the concert has ever seen. The hidden evolution of the Perfect Cast from embarrassing dad-move to emergency choreography is the ultimate plot recall and pay-off. We can only assume that in the months following the concert, the simple Goof people elevated the dance into pop culture phenomenon status on GoofTube, and whatever other technology they can access through their gloves.