Being a better parent than Goofy is not the lowest bar, but it’s still not exactly high. In the sequel, it’s easier to be angry at Max and disappointed in Goofy, but here, I’m definitely angrier at Goofy. He’s being a lousy father, and frankly not a great employee. I feel so sorry for Max, who perhaps isn’t communicating well but also has clearly not been raised to communicate well. The story would be very different if either of them were capable of just sitting down and telling what they were thinking and feeling. There’s a reason Max has such a hard time asking a girl out, frankly.
Max (Jason Marsden) is apparently fourteen. It’s the last day of school. To attract the attention of Roxanne (Kellie Martin), he does a whole thing with a video of superstar Powerline (Tevin Campbell). He gets in so much trouble that Principal Mazur (Wallace Shawn) calls Goofy at work and informs him that, if things continue as they are going, Max will end in the electric chair. Roxanne is actually so impressed that she manages to get him to agree to go to a party with her, but Goofy hauls Max off on vacation against his will. Max is unable to explain it to her and says he’s going to the Powerline concert in LA.
Then follows one of those terrible road trips that you basically only get in movies, where the route is confused and everything goes wrong. Max is trying to figure out a way to get to the Powerline concert—not only that but onstage, because he’s told everyone his dad and Powerline used to be in a band together. This is of course a lie because of course it is. Goofy also fails to notice that Max is unhappy until Max actually breaks and yells at him.
I mean, I get that. If you aren’t raised to be able to express your feelings in a healthy way, you’re more likely to break down and express them in an unhealthy one, and you won’t have any way of resolving your problems without it. It’s unfortunate but true. And Max is who he is because of how he was raised, of course. This is Goofy’s fault while also being something Max should be better than; the movie’s hard to watch.
It’s also hard to watch because it’s not very good, of course. The jokes are painful. They let Pauly Shore as Bobby ad lib most of his lines. I remember Pauly Shore trying to be funny back in ‘95, and he wasn’t. (Also, according to a substitute teacher who met him, he was a jerk. In fact, I’m pretty sure he used a word he shouldn’t have said to a student to describe him.) I watched it with my kids, and even my six-year-old didn’t think it was very funny. My ten-year-old kept demanding to know why he was watching it, which we could not answer.
Max doesn’t know why his father hauls him off on this vacation. Goofy doesn’t know what Max did. The call he got from the principal was truly unhinged. Max did, in a nutshell, a decent talent show act that apparently is proof of criminal destiny in some way. But no one talks about any of this, because no one talks. At all. Max talks some to his best friend, PJ (Rob Paulsen), and Roxanne talks to her best friend, Stacey (Jenna Van Oy, for you Blossom fans), and that’s pretty much it.
Oh, and let’s get into Pete (Jim Cummings), because that’s even worse. When he and Goofy encounter one another out camping, and Max asks where PJ is, Pete’s initial response is, “Who?” He also keeps lecturing Goofy about how he has to get Max under his thumb. While Goofy is talking about how Max loves him, Pete is more interested in PJ’s respect. Which I doubt he has; it seems much more probable that what he has is fear. Lousy parenting all the way around.