A cast of comedy pros, including the hilarious Don Knotts and Tim Conway, make this Disney classic a sure winner! Low-ranking football team The California Atoms are at a constant loss until they recruit a new player -- a m... more »ule named Gus. It turns out that Gus is an amazing placekicker with a 100-yard field goal ability! Just as the Atoms begin to leave their losing streak in the dust, crooks attempt to kidnap their new star. Whether it's a surefooted race to the goalposts or a riotous chase down supermarket aisles, action in this Disney favorite is sure to make your family cheer!« less
"UPDATE: When I first reviewed this I gave it fewer stars due to the poor job they did on the DVD. I give the movie itself 3.5 stars. The web site won't let me fix the amount I put in, but they used to let you change stars when you edited a review. The DVD release at this time does not seem to have improved sound or a re-mastered picture, nor does it include extras such as the trailer, interviews with actors, or a cartoon. Worst of all the huge widescreen shots that Disney made in the stadium are ruined by the lack of widescreen. It may be cheaper for now to buy the VHS or keep yours, plus you send a message to manufacturers that you will not pay DVD prices for a quick buck project.
FILM REVIEW: The California Atoms NFL football team is facing yet another season in last place until they stumble upon a mule named Gus that can kick field goals. Andy Petrovic is brought from Yugoslavia (Gary Grimes) along his mule Gus to kick football as half time entertainment, Andy's brother is a big soccer hero back in his homeland. The owner of the team, Hank Cooper (Ed Asner), hopes the mule can increase the poor attendance. The Coach (Don Knotts who also starred in the "The Apple Dumpling Gang" and its sequel, "...Rides Again", "Hot Lead and Cold Feet", and "No Deposit, No Return");) is so impressed he puts the mule on the team. No one seems to mind if the team that is the joke of the league wants to humiliate themselves a bit more, that is until they learn that the mule can nail 100 yard kicks right between the goalposts. The team begins winning game after game. Since the rule book does not say anything about mules, he gets to stay despite protests. "Gus Day" is announced but our mule hero has a bit much to drink and ruins his own ceremony. The mule is well liked by all he comes in contact with, and even helps his shy owner find romance with Debbi (Liberty Williams). But suddenly the big stakes in football cause the competition to hire crooks to stop Gus by stealing him, leading to a chase scene that goes through a grocery store. . And the chase is on... Great ensemble group of comedy actors that includes Tim Conway as Crankcase, he also appeared in other Disney movies such as the "The Apple Dumpling Gang" and its sequel, "...Rides Again", "Worlds Greatest Athlete", and "The Shaggy D.A."; Cal is played by veteran Dick Van Patten, who also starred in "Snowball Express", "Superdad", "The Sahggy D.A.", "Treasure of Matecumbe", "Freaky Friday", and "The Strongest Man in the World" for Disney; Spinner (Tom Bosley); Pepper the nutty sportscaster, played to the hilt by Bob Crane, also appeared as the lead in the zany "Superdad" for Disney),
TRIVIA & BEHIND THE SCENES: The movie had a huge cast that also included some well known names in football including Johnny Unitas, Dick Enberg, Stu Nahan, Dick Butkus, and George Putnam. Don't forget that Walt's son-in-law Ron Miller was running the studio after Walt's death, and he was a former tight end with the L.A. Rams. He had the connections to get the studio an unprecedented level of cooperation from the NFL and the Rams, including being allowed to shoot at the LA coliseum, the Sports Arena, and background shots at real games. For close up shooting they made a portable sod grass field they put over a parking lot at the studio lot. They also used the animation building as a hospital; you can read why the building was intentionally designed to look like a hospital when it was built in the Disney biography by Bob Thomas. Directed by Vince McEveety, who got his start as an assistant director on the Mickey Mouse Club, later directing Disney films such as "Treasure of Matecumbe", "The Strongest Man in the World", "Million Dollar Duck", "Superdad", "Castaway Cowboy", "Charley and the Angel", and "The Biscuit Eater". Screenplay by Arthur Allsberg and Don Nelson, adapted from the book by Tom Key. The movie is not too long, with a running time of 96 minutes and was released as a summer movie to theatres on July 7, 1976.
It did booming business at the drive-ins, as dads that had been reluctant to get dragged to Disney "kiddy" movies suddenly became agreeable when football was involved. It aired later on TV in a special 2 hour format on "The Wonderful World of Disney" on 9/18/77, then as a two episode show in 1979, and 1982. First video release was in 1981, earlier than most live action films. An entertaining gimmick comedy, this time it's a mule that plays football. Disney released quite a few such films during this period, relying on a basic formula that included a proven team of character actors, the obligatory chase slapstick scene, production team, director, etc that had worked as a formula so far. Bringing the same actors back from other Disney films allowed the studio to jump into the plot quicker as the character type of some of these actors was already recognized by the viewer. While the formula is predictable that's OK, it's a part of the humor, and it's good clean and hilarious family fun and kids just love it. "
Silly Slapstick Fun for the Young and Young at Heart
Mark Baker | Santa Clarita, CA United States | 03/18/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The California Atoms need a miracle. They've been in last place for so long that they have very few fans in the stadium for football games. In a desperate attempt to build attendance, the owner, Mr. Cooper, flies over Gus, a mule from Yugoslavia that kicks field goals. Soon, the mule and his owner Andy are being used to score points in the games. In an attempt to keep the team, Mr. Cooper makes a bet with his creditor that if the team wins the Super Bowl, he can keep the team. But the creditor won't make it easy. As the season progresses, the stakes get higher and the laughs get louder.Sure, this is a completely unrealistic movie. And you can probably guess every single plot point long before it happens. But this is another case of having so much fun getting there that you really don't care. I watched this movie many times as a kid, but hadn't watched it for years until recently. I was laughing right from the start, and the final scene made me laugh just as hard as it always did. I do wonder how some of the big name cast (like Tom Bosley and Ed Asner) got talked into this movie, but they do a great job and it's great fun as a result.The DVD, on the other hand, could have been better. Even though the package doesn't admit to it, this film was obviously originally widescreen, and the cut made for this DVD is bad. Usually I don't notice too much of a difference, but here people were often half on the screen and it was obvious we were missing bits of the action because of the edit. The picture quality could have also used a little sprucing up, with grain showing up on a fairly regular basis. It's noticeable, but not enough to truly detract from the film.If you're in the mood to laugh, this is the film for you. If you already have the VHS, there's no reason to rush out to upgrade. If you don't already own it, the DVD is a fine additional to any movie collection. Unfortunately, this is probably the best we'll ever get for this film."
A Great Movie from Old Disney to get away from the rat-race.
Mad-Dog | Utah | 02/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"OK, so this is not an Oscar level movie but, whats wrong with that? As a kid growing up I loved these flicks from Disney. And, it's a blast to watch them with my kids. I recently saw Million Dollar Baby and came out of the theater feeling like crap even though that's an Oscar level movie. When I watched GUS with my kids, I felt great al the way through and afterwards.
The scenes with the late Bob Crane and Johnny Unitas are hilarious. Don Knotts is great too as well as Ed Asner. I also enjoyed telling my kids about the old drive-in movies during that section and how we would put speakers in our car and also light up those mosquito repelling coils that the snack bar would sell. We forget that the kids don't know about such things. Having Richard Kiel show up inside that VW after Dick Butkus raps on the door was a great touch.
Bottom line, Gus wasn't given the best treatment on DVD, but it's still worth renting and watching when you want to for get all the crap of today. And the little ones will love it!
Now for the new Disney. You guys suck! This was a widescreen movie that deserved to be remastered and offered the same way on DVD. Like Universal's treatment of "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. That one was well done. The Disney of today has none of the values of the Disney of old and we might as well face up to it. They've even take some movies originally formatted as 4:3, lopped off the top and bottom and called it widescreen. And, where is Song of the South??!!!!!"
First movie I ever saw in the Theater as a kid
deltau94 | Houston, TX United States | 09/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderfully entertaining Disney comedy. The antics you'll see will bring a smile to your face, and a chuckle to your heart. Tom Bosley and Tim Conway really add to the comedic troup in this movie. The supermarket scene is hysterical. Not a likely scenario in real life, but then again, this is Disney. Well worth the price you'll pay, and fun for the entire family."
Very entertaining and funny!
Kelli N. | Texas | 06/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is very heart-warming, funny, and enjoyable. It's perfect for the whole family. People of all ages will enjoy this entertaining movie. Don Knotts is the perfect coach. He's hilarious, as always. It's up to Gus the Mule to pull his team out of a long losing streak. Also look for Ed Asner, Dick Van Patten, Harold Gould, Dick Butkus, and Bob Crane, who is Pepper, the know-it-all sportscaster. A good Disney movie. Rent or buy this movie soon. The mule Gus is cute too!"