Revisiting the songs of 'A Goofy Movie'
Do not let anyone tell you that A Goofy Movie is not a certified Disney classic.
The 1995 animated feature, in an effort to rescue Goofy from a 60-year rut of clumsiness and bad clothes, transformed the Mickey and Friends staple into a three-dimensional character by giving him, among other things, a moody teenage son. Goofy’s progeny, Max, was first introduced in the 1992-1993 TV series Goof Troop as a chipper pre-adolescent, but 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-plus years as too many Disney purists have ignored its virtues, harping instead on the questions it raised. (Yes, he’s a dog; no, Pluto can’t talk; honestly, it’s none of your business why they wear gloves!)
Looking back on this lost gem, released way back when in April ’95, allow yourself to be reminded that it’s the music that’s kept this under-appreciated father-son story close to many hearts. Sure, it’s no Hercules IV: Something’s Wrong with Pegasus, but it deserves your love just the same.
From its first moments, A Goofy Movie takes a page right out of the musical theater dictionary with a joyous ensemble number set on the last day of school, as Max Goof and his classmates belt out their dreams for summer vacation (during which they all plan to stay as ignorant as possible). “After Today” rings true because it’s a classic “Protagonist Walks Through Town in Mid-Morning” opener, a beloved musical theater tradition wherein everyone harmonizes and choreography is improvised yet flawless.
A Goofy Movie takes the trope a step further by also morphing that song into the film’s “I Want” number, giving Max a bold raison d’etre (to impress his shy ladyfriend Roxanne, the Shailene Woodley of Goof people). It’s just like Beauty and the Beast, albeit with teenage dogs taunting Max for being a geek in lieu of French people dragging Belle for reading a book (which she calls her favorite and yet does not own? I digress).
Plus, there’s an epic nod to Greasethat you definitely didn’t notice as a child.
The film has many merits, but there’s really one key reason to watch: Powerline, the most popular singer in the Goofy Movie cinematic universe, is a sort of amalgam of Michael Jackson and Prince, with undertones of a Timberlake-Usher-lite ’90s sex appeal and Bruno Marsian showmanship.
“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 feasible budget.
“On the Open Road”
Lest you forget, Goofy is actually in this movie, too, and while his songs are not necessarily the ones you’re dying to play on repeat—in fact, most would actively avoid them—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 natural sounds, like “Cell Block Tango” with more jangling keys and less lady who says “Lipshitz.” It may not be at the top of your playlist, but you can’t ignore the infectious enthusiasm Goofy feels for being stuck in traffic. Moreover, even though Max is a total goof-bag the entire trip (“I’d rather have detention!” he sasses), he still keeps the tempo, and you can’t fault anyone for having rhythm, even if it’s against their will.
“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 man. When the pair’s road trip goes haywire and they’re stuck together drifting down a river on top of a car (just like in Ladybird!), both Goofs are finally forced to reveal their long-simmering feelings to each other. And what better way to reveal innermost feelings than 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 technically the movie’s emotional crux… were it not for the perfection of the very next song.
“I 2 I/Eye to Eye”
We have reached it. The true masterpiece of A Goofy Movie, the Citizen Kane of 1995 animated musical numbers (no offense, “Colors of the Wind”). Officially, it’s called “I 2 I,” but even after 20-plus years, I refuse to accept that style choice.
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 sees Goofy and Max finally 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 joins him, fulfilling his dream of impressing Roxanne, and with the added, unexpected bonus of having his dad beside him.
The song itself is an explosive dance-pop power anthem that honestly should have charted in 1995. The chorus is catchy, and the stylish call-and-repeat of the “Seeing it eye to eye!” section is the new “When You Believe” riff for good friends with vibrato.
And finally, there’s the Perfect Cast. All movie long, Max has been 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 it’s the most incredible dance move anyone at the concert has ever seen. For viewers, the hidden evolution of the maneuver from embarrassing dad-move to emergency choreography is the ultimate plot recall and pay-off, and we can only assume that in the months following the concert, the dance went viral on whatever smart social-media devices the Goof people can use through their gloves.