A Goofy Movie Remains a Perfect Father/Son Film on Its 25th Anniversary
On April 7th, 1995, A Goofy Movie was released as a spinoff of the animated show Goof Troop. It was a big moment in my childhood not only because of my longtime love of Max Goof, but because of the amazing soundtrack coupled with a strong father and son story.
Max, who is currently in high school, decides to impress his crush, Roxanne, by hijacking the last day of school assembly and dancing as the popular Bobby Brown/Michal Jackson-hybrid singer Powerline. It works, and despite getting into trouble at school, he manages to actually speak to Roxanne and plan a date. Unfortunately his well-meaning but farcical father, Goofy (Is his name Goofy Goof?), is worried that Max is going down a dark path and decides to take him on a cross-country road trip to go fishing at Lake Destiny, Idaho—a Shakespearean comedy of errors.
The relationship between Goofy and Max is really touching. Goofy is a single father, and he very much loves his son. Yes, he is embarrassingly silly, but you know there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Max. Max is just at that age where that kind of overwhelming, unconditional love feels like smothering. There is no villain in A Goofy Movie, except that deeply uncomfortable place that a lot of parents and their kids go through where they no longer can talk to each other easily.
I’m like 99.9% sure that if Max had just said, “There is a girl I really like. I want to go out with her, and what happened at school was not a big deal,” Goofy would have listened. At the same time, Goofy has somewhat ignored that Max is not a little kid anymore and that the things they can bond over now are different.
One of the saddest scenes, but one of the best non-music parts, is when Pete tells Goofy to check his map. Originally, Goofy was going to map out the route for the trip, but after getting trapped by Big Foot (this movie is amazing), Goofy decides to let Max be the navigator. But, instead of taking them to Lake Destiny, Max has been planning to take them to a Powerline concert as part of his long game to keep up a lie to impress Roxanne. Pete overhears Max telling this to PJ and taunts Goofy with it.
The scene is good because it sets up the next dramatic act of the film, but it also delivers a very emotional look into how Goofy feels about Max and why this betrayal hurts so much.
Pete: Your kid’s dupin’ ya.
Goofy: What do you mean?
Pete: Well, I heard the little mutant telling PJ that he changed the map, so … you’re headin’ straight to L.A., pal.
Goofy: [shocked] What?
Pete: Oh, you tried, Goof. He’s just a bad kid, that’s all.
Goofy: I don’t believe you.
Goofy: I don’t believe you, Pete.
Pete: Well, hey, don’t take my word for it. Check your map.
Goofy: I don’t need to check the map. I trust my son.
[Goofy climbs out of the tub.]
Goofy: You know, maybe Max isn’t all the things that you think a son should be, but … he loves me.
Pete: [irritably] Hey, my son respects me.
Goofy: Yeah … (via IMBD)
Goofy trusts his son, and he loves Max. While Pete is content to be respected and feared, Goofy truly wants to connect with Max, which is why it hurts so much that Pete is right. When Max and Goofy get into a fight, that leads to them getting stuck in a river, and the two finally get to yell about how they really feel. And then sing.
Max: I had to! You were ruining my life!
Goofy: I was only tryin’ to take my boy fishin’, okay?
Max: I’m not your little boy anymore, Dad! I’ve grown up! I’ve got my own life now!
Goofy: I know that! I just wanted to be part of it.
Goofy: You’re my son, Max. No matter how big you get, you’ll always be my son.
Thankfully, they reconcile, and everything works out, but I’m always impressed when I revisit this film at how well it gets that feeling of teen/parent angst—the frustration that comes from just not knowing how to talk to one another, but relief once it does actually happen.
Also, the soundtrack slaps. IF YOU’RE EVER LONLEY, STOP, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE!
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