Season 1: Deconstructing Disney (for Adults) Or… Rationalizing Disney Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Alternative Themes Found in Disney Films That Provide Lessons and Parallels for Adults.
Ep 7: An Extremely Goofy Movie
Disney’s An Extremely Goofy Movie a rare film. It is better than its predecessor, A Goofy Movie. A rarity, when the opposite is more the status quo. An even greater rarity, the subtext. The cherry-on-top to this delight; Disney uses the most lovable classic character on its roster, Goofy! How often does Goofy get shine? Disney does a great job of letting Goofy go so high before crashing him, and us, down to Earth. An Extremely Goofy Movie is no different. We soon learn, with Goofy, a lesson in suffocating parental dynamics. Though Goofy may be the furthest thing from Buck Cluck, the pair have the inability to see their children apart from the past they once represented.
Soon to be freshman in college, Max and his pals, PJ and Bobby, eagerly await to leave home for new adventures in friendship. At Max’s going away party, everyone is excited for fresh starts, except for dear ol’ Goofy. Which carries later on into the day when Goofy insists on being overly mopey and quite insistent on Max taking his stuffed bear with him. Goofy represents that special type of parent that cannot seem to comprehend their child is actually bordering on adulthood with budding ambition and continues to treat them like the little aimless, innocent kid they have been seemingly obsessed with. It’s a strange type of head space to be in, especially for Goofy, who is apparently so distraught about the whole ordeal, it literally costs him his job. An exaggeration on the feeling, we would assume, but the hang up isn’t the fact that he is legally depressed over Max aiming for higher learning. It’s that Goofy is so into his own feelings he can’t find any sort of meaningful parting words for his “Maxie” but instead, making sure he gets his “three squares a day”. Granted, Max stormed out of there before Goofy has a chance to set the table but what did Goofy truly expect? Considering his son’s excitement to get to school and achieve status at the College X Games, why would Goofy be projecting any emotion but extreme happiness for his son during such a stressful time? Parental priorities appears to be out of whack in this case.
As much as we love Goofy, we sympathize and identify with Max more. Young Max experiences a particular type of horror most of us will never have to live through: going to school with your parent. Remember when Goofy fumbled the bag? Well he finally decided to get back on the wagon and discovered he has to go back to college for degree. I really hope this is the only college within the blast radius because I still don’t get how Goofy has to end up at the same school as his son. Goofy being at the college, and more so, sharing a class with Max is a plausible worst case scenario for anyone that feels more like themselves the longer they are away from their parents. The problem with suffocating parents is that they don’t know they are. Just as Max was breathing he got pulled back down six feet deep courtesy of his dad. Instead of being able to be his own person and be treated as such, Goofy is there to remind Max how much he loves overstepping his boundaries.
Once Max draws the line with his dad at joining his skate team, the ever desperate Goofy thinks of the next best thing as a last effort to find another way to stifle Max’s independent growth, join Team Gamma. The most appalling thing about this, Goofy clearly has no moral issue intruding on Max in any way in relation to the College X Games. It’s as if Goofy wasn’t aware of how serious Max was about the College X Games from the start. That’s essentially where a lot of these negative dynamics stem from, the parent’s not being aware of how ambitious their children are about things. What’s absurd to one is entirely plausible to another. There is no quicker way to turn your own against you then doubting their intent when they are working towards something. Just ask Goofy. He skated for Team Gamma AGAINST his own “Maxie” at his son’s best event. That’s justifiably, a double slap in the face. For Goofy, he was simply trying to squeeze more time in with Max, no matter the cost. Which ultimately became his downfall, as Max finally blew his top.
Life has a habit of throwing curveballs. Some we see coming, some help us in ways we never thought possible. School librarian, Ms. Sylvia Marpole, was the curveball that saved Goofy and Max’s relationship before it became adversarial. The ways that Goofy irks Max, Sylvia wholly enjoys. They were on the same wavelength from the get go, down to mood ring bonding. Curveballs, in this context, create breathing room for the parent and child after constant forceful interaction. The benefit is for both as Max gets to focus on the College X games and his social life while Goofy focuses on Sylvia and passing his classes. As time goes on, what parents seem to need most isn’t so much their own child but a companion to traverse the terrain with. For single parents, the time where they traverse the most is with their toddler children. Being that they are old enough to appreciate activities like a hike or a trip to a neighboring state. Goofy, being with Sylvia, allows Max to break free of his shackles and focus on the beginning of his collegiate career.
An Extremely Goofy Movie is anything but Goofy. It’s a rare cautionary tale for parents. It’s a thin line between love and suffocation. Who better to learn this lesson with than someone as aloof as Goofy. Somehow Max persevered through all of his dad’s shenanigans and was able to bring the trophy home to his team. Disney insinuates how important it is to persevere in the name of whatever you may be working towards. Parents are the hardest to win over but once you win, you win. As long as you do it for you, the ends will always justify the means.
**A celebration is definitely in order! Season 1 of ExCU is in the books! Major shout out to everyone that followed me each week! I had so much fun breaking these down for you guys and gals each week. Season 2 coming up. Catch up on all of season 1 only on Emcee.