In the history of Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Animation, there are a number of films that are universally viewed as classics. However, one of the most unique in the history of Disney has to be A Goofy Movie. Goofy is the only member of the Disney "Big 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto) to get his own theatrical animated film. But A Goofy Movie is also unique in a number of other ways. Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy for more than three decades, thinks that uniqueness is why the movie has remained so popular even 25 years later.
A Goofy Movie was a theatrical follow-up to the animated series Goof Troop, which was itself one-of-a-kind as it portrayed Goofy as a father. Taking place a few years after the end of the series, in the film, Goofy's son Max is now a teenager, and the two go on a fishing trip together. Goofy wants to bond with his son, but Max only wants to live his own life. It's a surprisingly mature conflict for a character whose primary focus for decades had been slapstick comedy. I recently had a chance to speak with Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy, ahead of the debut of his Disney+ series, It's a Dog's Life, and he thinks that the relationship between Goofy and Max is something a lot of people could relate to 25 years ago, and still can today. According to Farmer...
Goofy’s always been a fantastically popular character but putting him in the role of a caring father and the relationship between he and Max, it relates to a lot of people. I mean, I certainly thought my dad was Goofy from time to time and I think my son thinks that I’m goofy in more ways than one. And now its been long enough I think fathers are showing their sons this movie and they’re bonding over it. A lot of people tell me ‘Oh, I couldn’t talk to my dad ‘til I saw this movie and now it’s our movie to get together and watch together and it brings families together and that’s kinda’ a cool thing.
If you were a kid when A Goofy Movie hit theaters, then there's a good chance you understood the perspective of Max, the teen who just wanted his family to leave him alone and let him spend time with his friends. 25 years later, you might find yourself in the position of the parent with a young kid of your own. Now Goofy's desire to spend quality time with his child resonates just as much.
The film was only a relative box office success and the critical response was equally lukewarm. However, after the movie was released on home video, it began to see an audience grow around and it ultimately achieved a cult classic status. The movie's fictional musical act Powerline has some legit fans. In celebration of the film's 25th anniversary, Disney musical act DCapella even recorded a version of one of the movie's signature tunes.
A Goofy Movie means a lot to a lot of people. Bill Farmer himself is one of them. He's voiced Goofy more than 3,000 times in the last three decades. When I asked him if any single performance stood out, he instantly thought of A Goofy Movie, saying...
First of all it was a theatrical release, I got to see it in a theater with all sorts of fans and got to hear their reactions to my acting on the screen. And seeing the way that people react to it was a big highlight for me. And also we got to add some emotions and characteristics to Goofy’s character that we’d never had to do before. He’d never had to be a nurturing father, he’d never had to show pain and suffering and worrying about Max and all these other emotions that we’d never actually explored before that. So it was a unique challenge and very rewarding and I’m so glad that the movie has gotten more popular over the years.
And now, with Disney+ in the world, anybody of any age can check out A Goofy Movie whether they've ever seen it before or not. More than likely this will keep the movie's popularity going as new generations, and those that simply missed it the first time around, get introduced to it.
A Goofy Movie, may be one of Bill Farmer's best Goofy performances, but he's got plenty more where that came from. It's a Dog's Life with Bill Farmer debuts on Disney+ on May 15. It sees the voice actor traveling the country to meet real life dogs and see the many jobs the canines do. Farmer also teased a new Goofy related project that he's working on for Disney, that has yet to be revealed. He also teased me with an as yet unannounced project that will see farmer voice Goofy once again.