Because a Disney Legend has recently passed on, I am going to observe and give a critique on Walt Disney’s ‘Animated-Canon’. After analysing Steven Spielberg’s movies, I was going to observe all the aspects by Disney, but there are hundreds of films that Disney has produced and I want to keep this short. I will analyse the live-action films and the Pixar ones another time.
Disney is one of those film companies that has left a huge impact on many people for many years. Each time most film viewers remember their childhood, Disney becomes one of the most likely things to pop into our heads.
Anyway, starting with the worst, here is what I regard as the Worst to Best Walt Disney Animation Studios’ feature films. I say this from both a viewer’s and critic’s perspective;
48. The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh (1977)
Runtime: 74 minutes
I begin this list with the CBeebies of Disney which belongs to one of the most overrated franchises ever. I only saw this film once; most of it’s forgettable, apart from all the pooey elements that have come flooding back; It’s pointless; it’s made from three short films which we’ve all seen before the film was even released; no proper synopsis! And to top it all, a completely yucky soundtrack that you’ll die to excrete out of your mind. No offence to the Sherman Brothers, but you wrote way better songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Sword In The Stone and so forth. Nothing stands out about The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. It’s like, “Winnie the what?!”
There I said it. Next!
47. Bolt (2008)
Runtime: 96 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $114,053,579
Worldwide Box Office: $309,979,994
I think John Travolta’s a cool actor. But this is his most boring performance compared to Pulp Fiction, Saturday Night Fever and/or Grease (even though that film’s pretty overrated). It’s not that he screwed up his acting, but it’s just not interesting to relate to. Bolt is just, as Doug Walker might say, being cutesy for the sake of being cutesy. Plus, I wish that cat got run over or something. Maybe I’m being harsh, but she’s almost as annoying as Blanky out of The Brave Little Toaster! If she was a dog, I’d say she’s a total b***h! Bolt is another film you can definitely skip.
46. Fun & Fancy Free (1947)
Runtime: 73 minutes
I bet you readers had a feeling I would include one of the 1940s package films near the bottom of this list. Well, I guess it’s no surprise, since most of them are pretty, you guessed it, forgettable. I usually want to see a movie with one structured storyline, and I don’t think those two sub-stories crammed in one film work. The bear’s plot is thin and predictable and easily wrecked by a narrator who won’t shut up! Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy’s take on Jack & The Beanstalk is a bit of an improvement; the sharing food bit is understandable, but yet again ruined by a few disgusting elements; the giant does not have much of a personality for a villain. Even the live-action sequence is pointless; those puppets are obnoxious. God knows what Gerry Anderson thought of them! I feel like I want to pop their heads off! It’s lovely to see Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Jiminy Cricket (did I mention Jiminy?) in one feature. Too bad they had to be so crammed up in this one.
45. Pocahontas (1995)
Runtime: 81 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $141,579,773
Worldwide Box Office: $346,079,773
A Disney movie based on a true story? Sounds like a promising idea. But then it turns out to be a snore-through love story. It’s not the certain historical inaccuracies that are involved. The title character and her boyfriend are so boring! And how many songs can you remember? Well, I can only remember two of them; Savages, the best one(!), Colors Of The Wind, which is fine, not exactly When You Wish Upon A Star, but aside from that, not much of a musical. I give Pocahontas credit for its different animation techniques. But even my brother remembers the boredom we experienced from this film. It’s not the worst (see above), but definitely the weakest from the Disney Renaissance.
44. The Three Caballeros (1945)
Runtime: 72 minutes
Worldwide Box Office: $700,000
The apparent sequel to Saludos Amigos. The thought of Donald Duck viewing movies really blends the various stories together, but again, apart from the dance sequence by Donald and what’s-their-faces, I can’t remember much about this movie. In fact, there’s also the narrator with a large yap from the first half who constantly rabbits on and on and on about random rubbish. Oh Donald. You’re one of the coolest cartoon characters I’ve ever seen on-screen. If only the producers would cast you in more decent movies. He did get his chance eventually, but we’ll get to that later.
43. Dinosaur (2000)
Runtime: 82 mins
Domestic Box Office: $137,748,063
Worldwide Box Office: $349,822,765
This was Disney’s first CG animated feature to need not Pixar’s help, and boy was it a snore-fest. I praise the film for its effort-fully detailed constructions for the dinosaurs; similar-ish to Jurassic Park and Walking With Dinosaurs, but do they really have to talk? If you want to make this more interesting, look at the Rite Of Spring sequence in Fantasia. Tell the dinosaurs to shut their big fat gobs! And give them more personality!
42. Saludos Amigos (1942)
Runtime: 42 minutes
Is it really a feature? 18 minutes shorter? Either way, that’s not important right now. I don’t mind watching a film set during a vacation, but Saludos Amigos is too much like a holiday promotion than a film. This is something you expect to see as a commercial. Some of the shorts are decent and provide a strong South American connection between each other. Aquarela do Brasil is visually stunning. Lake Titicaca is quite amusing. El Gaucho Goofy is okay. Pedro, however, I hate that one – this section of the film weighs the whole thing down, thanks to that big gobbed narrator. If it’s a choice between Saludos Amigos or The Three Caballeros, I’d go for Saludos Amigos. Just get ready to fast forward.
41. Wreck-It-Ralph (2012)
Runtime: 101 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $189,422,889
Worldwide Box Office: $471,222,889
I saw Wreck-It-Ralph once. The only reason was because some of my mates saw it at the pictures. I didn’t, because I felt the film would be as stupid as Happy Feet. The film just turned out to be okay. I’d give Wreck-It-Ralph credit for its video game like graphics and the cameos from M. Bison, Sonic The Hedgehog, Pacman, etc, but I feel that the dialogue and acting together needed a bit of work. Plus, Ralph’s sidekick feels like slime through ear-to-ear, with Sonic trapped inside and zooming round my head a zillion times so much, I want to vomit. There I said it; not exactly Citizen Kane or even The Matrix. Apart from the graphics, character design and bits of the race, I don’t even remember much about Wreck-It-Ralph.
40. Bambi (1942)
Runtime: 70 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $1,640,000 (original release), $102million (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $3,449,353 (original release), $267,997,843 (total)
You’re probably going to hate me for placing this ‘classic’ film so low. To be honest, this film’s a tad overrated. There’s a lot of cutesiness that drags a bit too much. Plus I couldn’t cry at the famous death scene; I won’t give too much detail, but it’s been spoiled many times. Why couldn’t I cry? Because this scene is too rushed! Instead of giving us a chance to mourn the victim, it goes straight into “Sunshine Lollipops”, also known as the beginning of what I like to call the maturity scene. It’s not as emotional as the first scene in The Fox & The Hound or the post-wildebeest stampede in The Lion King. I guess you think I hate this movie. Well, no. I like the music and I like the bit where Bambi fights with another deer and Thumper’s okay. I just don’t think it’s that strong. Anybody for an Animals Of Farthing Wood movie?
39. Cinderella (1950)
Runtime: 72 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $85million (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $7,800,000 (original release), $88,000,466 (total)
Another film which I think is overrated. I know, I know. As a kid, I had Cinderella on video. It’s ironic, because this is a girl’s movie. I like to think my parents bought the video, so me and my brother could check out the women, ya know, early flirting. I enjoyed some of the animal bits, the the king trying to kill the Duke and the songs, especially Sing Sweet Nightingale, that really cracked me up! Lady Tremaine’s okay for a villain and even the animation is scaled! It’s not that it’s anti-feminist (I’ll leave it to you guys to decide whether it is anti-feminist), but certain elements bring this movie down; the prince and princess are both as boring as hell! The prince, especially, does not have much of a personality. The occasional bitching from Drizella and Anastasia can get annoying; it’s almost like watching a cartoon version of All About Eve (oh God!). If you’re familiar with the original story, you’ll know what’s going to happen in the film. It’s rather predictable.
Mom, Dad, if you’re reading this, I am grateful that you introduced us to the film. I’m glad I watched it. But I just have my own personal issues.
Runtime: 102 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $400,700,000
Worldwide Box Office: $1,274,000,000
Yes, the one everybody seems to be going on about. I know it’s grossed so much money and received so much critical acclaim. I do admit the locations contain a lovely atmosphere and I do admire the relationship between the two sisters. But like Bambi and Cinderella, it’s let’s face it rather overrated. Some of the film’s forgettable and speaking as a laddish lad, Frozen ain’t exactly what I would choose for constant viewing. Plus, the main song doesn’t match my personal music tastes. I didn’t watch Frozen in cinemas. Frankly it had no appeal to me, but so many people got obsessed with it, even the kids (so what’s new?), I gave in and watched it on Putlocker, and it was just okay. Take it for what’s it worth, not one of my personal faves.
37. The Adventures Of Ichabod & Mr Toad (1949)
Runtime: 68 minutes
The title of the film makes it sound like Toad and Ichabod are buddies in a road movie. But not so. It’s two separate stories, each based on literature, that don’t gel up together. They’re totally different stories. The first is basically Wind In The Willows, which is sadly predictable, if you’re familiar with the original story. You know Toad’s going to suffer an addiction to motor vehicles, and that he gets charged and escapes from jail and confronts Chief Weasel. Though I like how the characters are drawn to scale, I think the BBC version (the one with Matt Lucas, Mark Gatiss and Bob Hoskins) was better.
As for the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, the next one, it’s a rather clichéd love story. The highlight; the Headless Horseman’s scene, that is awesome! But the other scenes drag. So what is the connection between the Wind In The Willows and the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow? Explain!
36. Make Mine Music (1946)
Runtime: 76 minutes
A bit like Fantasia, but not as strong. For starters, Fantasia’s shorts were based on instrumental classical music, but Make Mine Music’s segments follow popular songs, with rather distracting lyrics. The Martins and The Coys, pretty corny. Blue Bayou, pretty cool. All The Cats Join In, so-so. Without You, a bit boring. Casey At The Bat, so obnoxious. Two Silhouettes, awesome! Peter And The Wolf, lose the narrator, I don’t care if it’s the same guy who voiced the Cheshire Cat and Kaa. After You’ve Gone, creatively badass! Johnnie Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet, not brilliant. The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met, totally ridiculous! Monstro should’ve been that whale.
Compared to Fantasia and despite certain decent segments, Make Mine Music is not a very balanced film.
35. The Princess & The Frog (2009)
Runtime: 96 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $104,400,899
Worldwide Box Office: $267,045,765
Disney originally planned to permanently give up on 2D animation. However after three CG cartoons, including the toxic Bolt, and thanks to John Lasseter, they changed their minds and along came The Princess & The Frog. While I enjoyed the jazz, the Witch Doctor and the rest of the atmosphere, I have to admit there are certain parts that bring this film down. First, the blond bimbo is so obnoxious, I can’t stand her. Second, it is based on the famous Frog Prince related fairy tale and it has that over clinched kiss-her-and-the-spell’s-broken plot hole. I don’t admire Randy Newman that much, but the songs are way better than the ones in James & The Giant Peach (eugh!).
34. Tarzan (1999)
Runtime: 88 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $171,091,819
Worldwide Box Office: $448,191,819
Tarzan is a movie that I would personally place in the ‘okay’ category. I wouldn’t say it’s as brilliant as Pinocchio or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but it definitely beats Bambi. You got the protagonist whose parents are killed by a cheetah. This is ironic, because I would’ve liked to see more of the leopard and I often debate with myself whether him or Clayton should be the main villain. Yes, Clayton want’s to wipe out the jungle’s population, which is a good set-up, but the cheetah’s the one that orphaned Tarzan in the first place. The cast is impressive, there’s Brian Blessed, the actor of Richard IV in BlackAdder, who voices Clayton, Wayne “Dennis Nedry” Knight, who voices the elephant and who can forget the lovely Rosie “Betty Rubble” O’Donnell as Terk. Kerchak, especially, is a smashing character. The other characters are okay. Phil Collins’ songs are okay, but some of them I feel are positioned in not the best times for a song. The climax is cool, but I still feel like the film’s missing something. Yes, you guessed it, the leopard. Shouldn’t there be a scene where the leopard has a final confrontation with Tarzan or something?
33. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Runtime: 85 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $145,794,338
Worldwide Box Office: $273,144,151
I watched Lilo & Stitch several times since it came out. My neighbours liked it, some of my friends liked it. The synopsis works quite well, but it’s the ending that goes downhill. I reckon the villain should be re-developed. She’s too tolerant of Lilo’s ownership to the alien, but that’s a personal nitpick. I love the soundtrack, I love the character of Stitch, I especially love Cobra (I’m not gay for him); he has both a sympathetic side and a don’t-f***-with-me persona, simultaneously. I admire the relationship between the two sisters, but if there’s certain characters that I find corny, it’s the two obnoxious aliens who attempt to hunt Stitch down, but especially them schoolgirls who are so unfair to Lilo. Somebody give me a lawnmower, so I can run over them little brats! Lilo & Stitch marks a cool contribution to society, but it could’ve done with a few more development tweaks.
32. Hercules (1997)
Runtime: 93 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $99,112,101
Worldwide Box Office: $252,712,101
Hercules reminds me of Superman, but on the dark side, it also reminds me of that overly corny Frank Oz version of the Little Shop Of Horrors. Why Superman? The character of Hercules obtains brute strength and gets separated from his god-parents at birth. He also has a Lois Lane-type girlfriend. The villain, Hades, is wacky and eccentric. James Woods pulls it off. Danny DeVito does a great job, also, as Phil, the mentor. The fight with the hydra is badass. But Hercules would’ve made it near the top, if it wasn’t for those gospel singers who won’t zip it with the narration. This is where some of the irritating elements from Little Shop Of Horrors floods back. Plus, I wish Ron Clements and John Muskers allowed more time for improvement on the special effects. I personally like the video game better. I would recommend you have a go at the game.
31. Brother Bear (2003)
Runtime: 85 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $85,336,277
Worldwide Box Office: $250,397,798
Phil Collins is back! When I first heard of Brother Bear, I was appealed to avoid the film. The title made it sound too cute and cuddly, as if it’s for very young children. But actually, the older viewers can enjoy it too. The film’s quite unique for a Disney flick. There’s no real villain, the antagonist is a basic misunderstanding among the brothers. One of them dies, another kills a bear for vengeance, but then turns into a bear and the third tries to kill him, not knowing it’s really him, because he also wants vengeance. This is one such film that I bet Trey Parker & Matt Stone wish they made. It’s not as panto as many of the other fairy tales, though there is this hilarious comic relief from the two mooses (one voiced by Rick Moranis). That’s common in pantomimes. Brother Bear is brilliant for a unique storyline. Though the Phil Collins songs are positioned in the wrong scenes at times, especially where Koda discovers what happened to his mom. And sometimes, Koda can be so annoying.
30. Snow White & The Seven Dwarves (1937)
Runtime: 83 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $3.5million (original release), $184.9million (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $7,846,000 (original release), $416million (total)
Another film which you’re probably wondering why it’s positioned so low. Look, I know it was the first ever feature to be produced by Disney, but that doesn’t mean it has to go more steps beyond, does it. Okay, enough of my moaning. The best characters are the dwarves. They got personality! Grumpy is the best! I’m not just saying that. He’s the most unique of all his associates. His name clarifies his persona, but deep down, he does have a heart for Snow White. The prince is too much like Cinderella’s prince Charming. The Queen is not very interesting; that is until she drinks that potion and…. you know the rest.
29. Lady & The Tramp (1955)
Runtime: 75 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $7.5million (original release), $88,300,200 (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $93,602,326 (total)
Not only is Lady & The Tramp about two dogs falling in love, but it’s also about an interaction between two classes. Lady; upper class, Tramp; working class. I’m not a romantic film bluff, but this is definitely much less clichéd compared to, say, When Harry Met Sally.
28. The Little Mermaid (1989)
Runtime: 85 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $$84,355,863 (original release), $111,543,479 (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $211,343,479 (total)
And so began the Disney Renaissance, and the first of Disney’s ‘fairy-tales’ since Sleeping Beauty. Despite Ariel’s occasional whining and the clichéd kiss-to-break-the-spell goal, Prince Eric is much better than the other Disney princes I mentioned. In fact, he and Ariel remind me of Troy Tempest and Marina from Stingray. The watery effects are cool, and the songs are terrific! Well, some can be cheesy, but stuff like Under The Sea certainly gets us into the groove. It’s a liberal movie, which proves a pleasant viewing experience.
27. One Hundred & One Dalmatians (1960)
Runtime: 79 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $14million (original release), $144.9million (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $215,880,212 (total)
One Hundred & One Dalmatians deserves credit for introducing the new animation technique that is Xerography. It’s very sketchy, it’s very urban, it’s very jazzy, nice connection. Cruella DeVil is an awesomely designed and developed villain. I’ve only seen this film twice. First time, so long ago. Second, better than I remember it. My favourite elements of this movie; Cruella DeVil and her henchmen.
26. Fantasia 2000 (1999)
Runtime: 75 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $60,655,420
Worldwide Box Office: $90,874,570
At last, Donald Duck has been cast in a proper film for a change! Well, there’s another one yet to come. Poor Goofy though (but I would recommend A Goofy Movie). The sequel to the classic Fantasia may not beat the first one, but Fantasia 2000 has plenty of tasty ingredients the viewers can consume. My favourites are Rhapsody In Blue and Firebird Suite. Speaking of Donald, he and Daisy get a part in Pomp & Circumstance/Noah’s Ark; it’s decent, but the music sounds a tad too much like the animals are graduating and the ark is the college. The worst one is The Carnival of The Animals; it’s not the music, but giving a flamingo a yo-yo? That sounds ridiculous. I wish Fantasia 2000 was more original. At times, the celebrities keep dwelling on the first film, which is not a very good taste. Also, why repeat the Sorcerer’s Apprentice? Repeating material is not very unique for a sequel. And please, somebody fast-forward the celebrities.
25. Melody Time (1948)
Runtime: 75 minutes
I did say Donald Duck was in another film and here it is, Melody Time. The apparent sequel to Make Mine Music, but made hundreds of times better. It’s also how Fantasia 2000 should’ve been constructed. Completely different segments and it’s perfectly balanced. Once Upon A Wintertime, nice. Bumble Boogie, the best one! The Legend Of Johnny Appleseed, also awesome. Little Toot, hate it. Trees, much better. Blame It On The Samba, that’s the one with Donald Duck in it and it’s good. Pecos Bill, not as brilliant as the other segments. I personally think the film should’ve ended with The Legend Of Johnny Appleseed.
24. Treasure Planet (2002)
Runtime: 95 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $38,176,783
Worldwide Box Office: $109,578,115
Treasure Planet is a science-fictional version of the classic Robert Stevenson novel, Treasure Island. Of course, there are a million film versions, including that dreadful Filmation cartoon. But thankfully, Treasure Planet does not follow the book too much, its choreography is much cleaner and look at that ship, man!
23. Oliver & Company (1988)
Runtime: 73 mins
Domestic Box office: $53.3million (original release), $74.2million (1996 re-release)
Okay, the Little Mermaid started a new era of blockbusters, but that wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t for Oliver & Company, Disney’s pilot feature for the Disney Renaissance. Oliver & Company saved Disney’s ass from near bankruptcy. I said before that Treasure Planet would outsmart Filmation’s Treasure Island and that Lady & The Tramp outsmarts,… romantic comedies. Oliver & Company is loosely based on Olivier Twist, the musical. Duh! It doesn’t just follow the typical Oliver Twist story, it jazzes it up really well; different songs, different setting, you still got the same characters, only Oliver is a cat, Dodger is a dog, Sykes is the leader of a local Mafia. Effortlessly original! This is exactly what the audience wants. The pop and piano rock songs are incredibly bouncy, thanks to the voice talents of Billy Joel, Bette Midler and then future hip-hop star Joey Lawrence. Of course he does not sing in this film, but a new era was just beginning.
22. Aladdin (1992)
Runtime: 90 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $217,350,219
Worldwide Box Office: $504,050,219
Jasmine kicks butt! The Genie is a real character! Jafar is… well designed. Iargo has a mouth for war. It’s totally understandable why Aladdin is so loved! Aladdin, like the Little Mermaid, is another enjoyable experience, though the soundtrack is so-so. Though Arabian Nights is a lovely opening song, A Whole New World is a bit cheesy. If there was one song from 1992 I would’ve personally awarded the Oscar to, it would’ve been I Miss You (Robyn’s Song) from that Tom & Jerry movie (if only that got a nomination).
21. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Runtime: 78 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $89,302,687
Worldwide Box Office: $169,327,687
I cackled all the way through David Spade’s spectacular performance as the capitalist emperor that is, Kuzco. I felt emotions when he struggles to cope with his llama alias. He starts off as a heartless meanie, then he turns into a llama and stumbles across this ‘peasant’ whose life he planned to ruin. And their mission is to return to the palace and turn Kuzco back into a human. Most of the forth-wall jokes are hilarious, but when I first watched it, I thought there were times when the jokes go too far. For instance, when Kuzco introduces his llama form, he makes it pretty obvious that the llama is him. I was like; ‘shouldn’t the producers have waited till the film progressed?’ But I’ve got over it. The Emperor’s New Groove is without a doubt one of the highlights of the post-Disney Renaissance.
20/19. Both Rescuers films (1977 + 1990)
Runtime: 77 minutes
Worldwide Box Office: $29million (original), $71,215,869 (total)
The Rescuers Down Under
Runtime: 77 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $27,931,461
Worldwide Box Office: $47,431,461
I, of course, am referring to The Rescuers (1977) and The Rescuers Down Under (1990). Why am I tying them both together? Because I have no personal preference. I think they are as good as each other. Why are they neglected? Is it because they lack songs? Of course the first film contains two songs; though Bernard and Bianca do not burst into musical numbers, but so what? They’re still neat. Down Under has no songs. Yet again, so what? It’s fine as it is. They do have the same basic story, but some of the narrative elements are different. First film; the SOS message is sent via message in a bottle. Down Under; the mice familiarize themselves with modern network technology. They’re from one franchise, what do you expect? Both films each contain an exciting adventure that you wish you could participate in. Did you think I was going to fight over which one of the three Godfather films is the best?
18. The Lion King (1994)
Runtime: 87 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $312.9 million (original release), $422,783,777 (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $351,863,363 (original release), $987,483,777 (total)
And so comes the film that clogged the box office (I, of course, mean that as a compliment), until Frozen came out. Like Oliver & Company, The Lion King goes to show how easy it is to originalise another media product. It is loosely based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. End of story. Simba is one of the most unique Disney princes. He loses each play-fight with his best friend, Nala. He is left to fend for himself after one of his relatives is killed (I won’t say who it is, in case I spoil the film), though with some supervision from Timon and Pumbaa. Unlike his father who is well-built, he diets on bugs, vegetation and so forth. Speaking of the father, I said that Mufasa was well-built; his brother and the main villain Scar is the opposite; weak and spineless (check out that hump on his back), which is no wonder that he relies on the hyenas to do some of the work for him. And yet, the sibling rivalry between Mufasa and Scar is really interesting. The hyenas can be obnoxious sometimes, same for Timon and Pumbaa. But this film is pretty much what Bambi should’ve looked like. We see a character die. Forget Bambi’s mom (whoops, didn’t mean to say that). The Lion King gives us a chance for emotions. Though I cried more during the Can You Feel The Love Tonight sequence. Not only is is so beautiful, but I really felt for Timon and Pumbaa (oh god, I feel emotional now).
There were two sequels to the Lion King. Should there be a Lion King 4; this one ought to be based on Mufasa and Scar’s back-story, just like The Godfather Part 2.
17. Mulan (1998)
Runtime: 90 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $120,620,254
Worldwide Box Office: $274,925,095
If there ever was a Saving Private Ryan of Disney, Mulan certainly hits the spot. It was about time Disney made a film about a more ‘manly’ Disney Princess. Stuff Cinderella man, Mulan is a more unique princess. How she eventually gets her man is more subtle compared to the usual princess movies. No kiss, no hug, no marriage proposal, nothing as clichéd as that. Anyway before I spoil any more of the movie, why did I compare Mulan to Saving Private Ryan? Well, first of all, it’s a war movie, except that it’s set in historical China. Second, look at the way the arrows attempt to lodge into the soldiers during the battle sequences. Impressive, innit? Also the scene where Le Shang finds the city in ruins is as heartbreaking as the napalm scene in Apocalypse Now. It’s like “wow!” If you thought Disney Princesses was just for girls, that ain’t quite true. Boys will love Mulan. I should know. I’m one myself!
16. The Fox & The Hound (1981)
Runtime: 83 minutes
Box Office: $39.9million (original release), $63,456,988 (total)
This is another film that has much more tear-jerking scenes than Bambi. The Fox & The Hound sees Tod lose his mom to a hunter, and it doesn’t go straight into ‘Sunshine Lollipops’. It’s slowed down enough to break your heart. Of course, we’re then cheered up when Widow Tweed takes care of Tod. Then we get an awesome Best of Friends/Best of Enemies storyline. Tod befriends Copper, a hound dog who is trained to hunt foxes. Some viewers may dismiss The Fox & The Hound as a kids’ movie, but surely your grandpa could enjoy it too. Plus the next half does mature as the film progresses. The friendship between the two protagonists is a strong and emotional theme throughout and debates whether they should remain companions or if it’s like; “Let’s hunt each other down”. Mickey Rooney and Kurt Russell’s performance effectively spark the maturity. The ending made me cry. I won’t give anything away, but I still feel emotions thinking about it. Rest in peace Mickey.
15. The Aristocats (1970)
Runtime: 78 minutes
Worldwide Box Office: $26,462,000 (original re-release), $55,675,257 (total)
If you love France and art, you’re going to love the Aristocats. Who said the Aristocats was so forgettable? It’s a masterpiece! As a kid, I had it on video. So what can I say about The Aristocats that makes it so good? First of all, the connections. It’s very well sketched out; this blends really well with the aristocratic culture and the French setting, that’s a powerful connection! Don’t believe me? Pay a visit to the Louvre. I once spent a few days vacation in Paris. Another important connection links the cats to the use of jazz music. Speaking of music, Richard and Robert Sherman’s songs rock! I mentioned all those abysmal songs from that Winnie the Pooh film(!). These ones swing into effort! Everybody Wants To Be Cat sung by them cool alley cats is especially a swinging classic!
14. Alice In Wonderland (1951)
Runtime: 75 minutes
Worldwide Box Office: $2.4million
Another film we had on video, Alice In Wonderland is probably the most surreal Disney cartoon I’ve ever seen. Alice sometimes reminds me of myself. There’s the fuss about books without pictures and later, the hope for something with a logical explanation. Because logic is something that does not exist in Wonderland. I love how the setting of Wonderland is structured. It’s like a labyrinth and there’s the various characters Alice comes across. The Cheshire Cat; he cracked me up when he stood on his head, as much as the un-birthday tea party did. I really sympathize with Alice as the film progresses; as she struggles to open the entrance door to Wonderland, she forgets about the key on the table, but after all, she’s only a little girl. Her failed attempts to negotiate with the Mad Hatter and March Hare are humorous, yet understandable, and the scene where she sings Very Good Advice will definitely break your bleedin’ ‘earts! Alice In Wonderland is quite a challenging film to watch, probably somewhere in the same boat as Fahrenheit 451. This version of Lewis Carroll’s novel is the best of them all. Skip the Tim Burton version and avoid the one with Peter Sellers and Michael Crawford in it by all means.
13. Dumbo (1941)
Runtime: 64 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $1,600,000
Dumbo is the film I cried most at. I mean, man, those circus trainers are so unfair to that poor elephant. Dumbo is born with enormous ears, and as a result, is bullied by the other elephants, except his mom and picked on by the circus… staff; his accidental clumsiness causes such a huge snag that he is made a clown. Gee, it’s like Disney meets the Elephant Man. That’s what makes the film so unique. Dumbo is a sympathetic view on those discriminated by their features. The only characters who are sympathizing with him are his mom, Timothy Q Mouse (that’s his mentor by the way) and of course the crows. Now on a very serious note, these crows have been picked on long enough now and it’s time we started to show some maturity in this. Disney never meant any harm to the audience whatsoever. Crows are black and shall remain black. It’s not their fault their black. Black is just a word. Jim Crow is just a name and is no different to the name Timothy Q Mouse or even Jiminy Cricket. Disney is as innocent as any certain person could be. How do you know the crows are even African Americans? Cliff Edwards wasn’t African. Anybody could dance like them. It’s perfectly normal and all Disney wanted to do was to make a valid contribution to society. There I said it.
12. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Runtime: 75 minutes
Worldwide Box Office: $5,300,000 (original release), $51.6million (total)
I have fond memories of Sleeping Beauty. Yes, it’s a princess movie, but what the hell. Me and my brother used to watch it all the time. It was one of those films we taped off the TV. Out of every Disney movie, or in fact, movie in general, Sleeping Beauty is the one I misheard the most lines from. There was me, right, watching the bit where Flora finds out that Aurora’s boyfriend was Prince Phillip all along, then rushes to her colleagues and is like “come on, we’ve got to get back to the car”. I was thinking “what, did they drive to the castle?” “Did they need a car?” Then they arrive at the cottage and it’s like “Oh they said ‘cottage'”. Good times. Maleficent is an awesome villain. The fairies kick butt, especially Merry-Weather. She’s my favourite! Personally, I like the side characters better than the main ones. Aurora could’ve done with more character development, alongside Prince Phillip. Though I must admit, Phillip is much more of a Disney Prince than both Prince Charmings (from Snow White and Cinderella) are. He has more screen-time and is more of an Action Man. That said, this is quite good synopsis with cool misunderstandings and an exciting finale.
11. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Runtime: 96 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $84,056,472
Worldwide Box Office: $186,053,725
God I love Atlantis: The Lost Empire! I don’t know why so many people hate this movie so much. This is Disney’s most left-wing film of all time, followed by a few others. In fact, it’s the only one that was nominated for a film Political Film Society Awards, and with good reason. It’s about this crew who research the lost city of Atlantis, which was flooded for over a thousand years and lost power since the incident. Milo Thatch who is among the crew attempts to find a way to power up the crystal chamber to save the city, but Commander Rourke stands in his way with selfish plans to sell the crystal for a million smackers, regardless of the Atlanteans’ lives. The scene where certain of Milo’s colleagues is quite a touching scene. Atlantis: The Lost Empire is very cultural; among the side characters are Vinny, an Italian demolitions expert, Mole, a French geologist and Sweet, an African American doctor, and they’re so identifiable. Each obtain their own back-story. The comic relief is also awesome. Packard especially makes me laugh with her infamous line “we’re all gonna die” and her constant chat-rabbiting on the radio. The female characters are very masculine and quite different to many Disney women; there’s Audrey, who works as a mechanic and loves boxing, and Helga, who’s a regular Lara Croft. It’s also visual and epic! I mean, wow, look at the Star Wars-like aircraft and that crystal chamber. Yummy!
10. The Jungle Book (1967)
Runtime: 78 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $73.3million (original release), $141,843,612 (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $205,843,612 (total)
So starter from ten and we’re on the jazz man! As once said Mr T. The Jungle Book is one of them films that largely references pop culture and I mean literal pop culture, thanks to the vulture quartet, or should I call them the next Fab Four, but a lot of other things also. It’s a well-adapted film from literature, it’s a well-written and choreographed musical (long live the Shermans! Alas, only half of them are still with us), well obviously! Songs like Bare Necessities, I Wanna Be Like You and even Colonel Hathi’s March are bouncy enough to uplift your butts into the jazz, man! The characters are well-developed; Baloo is a smooth talker, Bagheera’s the serious and paranoid one, Shere Khan is… the calm, yet resourceful one. Movin’ on. The jungle is delightfully sketched out. The music, man, provides a jazzy and funky atmosphere. The Jungle Book is a coming-of-age, buddy road-trip, musical, comedy, adventure cartoon that can keep those any age on the jazz man! Oh thanks a lot Mr T!
9. The Black Cauldron (1985)
Runtime: 80 mins.
Domestic Box Office: $21,288,692
Many critics seem to hate this movie more than they hate Atlantis. Is it Taran’s constant rabbiting? Well either way, I don’t mind a bit of that. The Black Cauldron is sort-of Disney meets Ralph Bakshi. Why Ralph Bakshi? Well, did you know that he directed Wizards and the Lord Of The Rings cartoon? Each time I view The Black Cauldron, that’s the motivation I receive. So what if it’s largely different from other Disney movies? It’s still worth a watch. The villain’s different and awesome. One sight of him can send chills to our bones. Speaking of which, he plans to use the black cauldron in question to unleash a boned army (wolf whistles). The British cast is also great; John Hurt does the Horned King, Nigel Hawthorne, Fflam, and of course Susan Sheridan as Princess Eilonwy, and she’s impressive (NB. she was in her late thirties at the time and Eilonwy is about 14). I don’t care much about the Disney Princess franchise, but you can’t just exclude Eilonwy from the franchise just because the film failed heavily at the box office. Folks, we gotta turn this around and increase the DVD/VHS/whatever-storage-you-have sales.
8. The Sword In The Stone (1963)
Runtime: 79 minutes
Box Office: $13,050,777 (original release), $22,182,353 (total)
Probably the film I watched the most times, The Sword In The Stone is the most hilarious Disney movies I’ve ever seen. For those who haven’t seen it yet, please do. It’s ironic that the film is never the first film that comes into people’s minds whenever Disney comes into context. Who can forget Merlin’s beard gags which are absolutely impossible to not cackle along to? And the wolf’s constant attempts to consume Wart? On a more serious note, not only is it the humour that stands out about The Sword In The Stone. The screenplay obtains an amount of smart writing. If it wasn’t for the film, I wouldn’t have known what gravity was or anything about animal’s body parts. It’s like having Merlin and Archimedes as your college professors. Merlin is all about logic. He is also a regular time-traveller and knows a lot about the modern world, which is no wonder why he serves as a brilliant mentor to Wart. Wart is a bit like Simba; he’s scrawny as Kay calls him, yet thanks to Merlin, he becomes lucky, and I mustn’t say any more in case I spoil the ending.
7. Beauty & The Beast (1991)
Runtime: 84 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $145.9million (original release), $218,967,620 (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $351,863,363 (original release), $424,967,620 (total)
You may think I placed Beauty & The Beast in the top ten, due to its famous Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Wrong! Having said that, I’d rather the Oscar was awarded to this movie rather than some lame horror movie about a cannibal who doesn’t even consume enough human flesh. Actually, the reason for the position is because Beauty & The Beast is more unique compared to Disney’s other prince/princess movies. In fact, the Beast, sometimes referred to as Prince Adam, is the most unique Disney Prince of all time. He has personality! He has a motive! He’s transformed into a beast as punishment for not being very nice to his servants, in fact, not very nice in general. He’s werewolf-like, short-tempered, yet has the hots for Belle and struggles to behave like a gentlemen. Though his niceness develops, there’s other things he must learn, including his table manners, lol. That’s also why it’s one of the best ever romantic films in general. The soundtrack is also badass! The opening theme provides a theme of darkness to Adam’s back-story. Gaston’s song is my favourite; it depicts him as a not-as bad guy as many of the villagers think and worships him as a god. Of course he is a villain. My dad also loves this movie. In fact, we both like the character of Gaston, but my mom hates him for being a brute. The way he proposed to Belle, that is so hilarious! It’s something most romantic comedies seem to be missing nowadays.
6. Peter Pan (1953)
Runtime: 76 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $87.4million (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $7million (original release), $145million (total)
Peter Pan is one of those films that had a large impact on me. Me and my brother used to re-act the sword fights; him as Peter Pan, myself as Captain Hook. Bearing in mind, we did not use real swords, lol. Peter Pan, like many blockbuster movies (it was a box office success, what more do you want?), attracts every molecule that everybody can enjoy. Females can enjoy Peter and Wendy’s romance, males can enjoy the action sequences, or maybe vice versa. I especially enjoyed the pirates, the fights (I guess I’m such a big lad!), Hook’s design, the songs, especially Following The Leader, I also love the epic ending; I won’t give too much detail, but it reminded me of one of the most iconic scenes from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. I also like how George Darling’s personality eventually changes. I’d also recommend Steven Spielberg’s Hook which is the sequel to the story. That too is terrific. Avoid the P.J. Hogan version by all means. It has Jason Isaacs as Hook and it ain’t the only problem with the film.
5. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Runtime: 74 minutes
Box Office: $25.3million (original release), $38,625,550 (total)
5, 4, 3, 2,… not yet Jeff! Yes, here we are in the top five. We begin with John Musker and Ron Clement’s underrated directorial début with Disney. Apart from Condorman, The Great Mouse Detective, or Basil The Great Mouse Detective as it is sometimes known, is the only Disney movie to feature Henry Mancini’s jazzy score. Back on the jazz man (oh I said it again!). Seriously though, Goodbye So Soon has rhythm! As does The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind. In fact, it suits the crime-mystery/film-noir-ish atmosphere perfectly. This film is the rodent equivalent to the Sherlock Holmes franchise; Basil, as Holmes, David Q Dawson, the regular Dr Watson. They, along with a girl named Olivia, are on a mission to save her pop, a toy-maker, from Ratigan, Basil’s arch-enemy who plans to wipe out the mouse version of Queen Victoria. What’s fantastic about The Great Mouse Detective is the screenplay. It’s very intelligently scripted. Basil obtains an IQ rating somewhat over 1000. It would’ve taken a lot of guts to script Basil’s dialogue; the way he memorizes the connection between Dawson’s experience in Afghanistan and what he’s wearing, and the sums he memorizes in regard to each trap they come across. It’s like “Wow!”. Even the sound is at it’s best! If you don’t believe me, have a look at the Big Ben finale. Oh and did I mention that Vincent Price voices Ratigan?
4. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)
Runtime: 93 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $100,138,851
Worldwide Box Office: $325,338,851
People either love or hate this film. Personally I love it. As a kid, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, along with Fantasia and The Sword In The Stone, was my favourite. The film came out when I was six years old and I can honestly confirm that it’s one of the films I’m most proud to have seen at the pictures. Out of every 90s cartoon, many people vote Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin and/or The Lion King, but it was the Hunchback Of Notre Dame that blew me away! Some people hate the film, due to it’s overly mature issues, but that’s what I love about Hunchback; it covers infanticide, religious hypocrisy, damnation, you name it! A bit like Dumbo, except there’s more of that stuff involved. Claude Frollo is one of the best Disney villains of all time; he’s not so panto. He’s one of those guys who does not admit he’s evil and believes he’s doing a good deed for God when in fact, he’s committing a huge sin; murdering the innocent. He’s like “Double cross me and I will kill you”. Badass! The background details are visually stunning! The music is adorable! Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise are the most incredible directors to have worked with Disney since the beginning of the Renaissance. They should continue!
3. Robin Hood (1973)
Runtime: 83 minutes
Worldwide Box Office: $17.16million (original release), $32,056,467 (total)
Robin Hood is another film which had a huge impact on me since childhood. It is also one of the reasons why I personally became a left-winger. Robin Hood robs from the rich and gives to the poor, and with very good reason; the townsfolk is living in poverty and cannot afford much of Prince John’s unnecessarily high taxes. Prince John is one of the most unique Disney Princes along with the Beast and Simba. He’s probably the only prince Disney has made a villain out of. Prince John is a regular Margaret Thatcher, Ian Beale and Dr. Robotnik. His immature tantrums made me cackle all the way through and also feel sorry for his servant Hiss. Robin Hood is the typical Sonic The Hedgehog; he’s resourceful, he easily fools his enemies with his disguises alongside his sidekick Little John, he has heart. In short, they’re the Mr. Nice Guys. What also turns me on about Robin Hood is the Bob Dylan-style soundtrack. Whistle Stop is a smooth starting melody, Love is a nice gentle ballad, but in my opinion, it’s the Phony King Of England that rocks! Shame that song never got an Oscar nomination. Oh well, Love did, pity it didn’t win. Alas, the soundtrack doesn’t get as much credit as the soundtracks to Pinocchio, Beauty & The Beast or The Jungle Book. It’s so underrated. I love how every character is an anthropomorphic animal with no humans whatsoever; Robin’s a fox, Little John’s a bear, Hiss is a snake, yadda, yadda, yadda. This is like a powerful network between the setting of Sherwood Forest and nature. Many of the sequences are awesome! The archery tournament turning into an American Football match demonstrates how much butt Lady Kluck kicks, the Not In Nottingham number is quite dark and emotional and shows how much hurt capitalism causes, the finale is so suspenseful; Robin and Little John are attempting to release the prisoners whilst dodging the guards and other obstacles and making as little noise as possible. Check it out folks. You won’t regret it.
2. Fantasia (1940)
Runtime: 125 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $1.3million (original release), $76.4million (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $83,320,000 (total)
Well, that’s the last of Disney’s anthology movies. As I said, I’m not a fan of the majority, but Fantasia is simply the fairest of them all! I would’ve personally listed it as one of Disney’s live-action movies, considering that technically, Fantasia is not all animated, hence Deems Taylor, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. On the other hand, the film is less than a quarter live-action and the rest is animated. I guess that makes sense. But unlike Saludos Amigos, Three Caballeros and so forth, Fantasia’s segments verify the effort! True that it’s various different plots, but there is something that clearly unites them. That being the classical music and how each cartoon contrasts with the mood. It’s artistic, it’s psychedelic, it’s surreal, it’s dark, it’s a film that anybody over the age of twenty-one can watch with or without the accompaniment of a child. The Rite Of Spring sequence is awesome! It explores the logical origin of the Earth; the development, the evolution of dinosaurs and their eventual demise; I especially love the fight between the T.Rex and the stegosaurus. Tell me this ain’t better than Bambi. Night On Bald Mountain is another one of my favourites; another part that will vibrate your epidermis (ask Nelson Muntz what that means). Chernabog casting his own demons to the flames. Cool!
Okay, here we go…
1. Pinocchio (1940)
Runtime: 88 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $1,423,046.78 (original release), $84.2million (total)
Worldwide Box Office: $3.5million (original), $87,000,862 (total)
And Thunderbirds are go! Pinocchio is my all-time favourite Disney movie. Of course I said that as a child, it was either the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fantasia or The Sword In The Stone, but throughout my life, it’s Pinocchio. Like Peter Pan and Robin Hood, Pinocchio had a huge impact on me. It still does. The film validly contributes to society and really relates to me. The protagonist comes across the symbols of temptation. Honest John tricks Pinocchio into working as an actor for a fat-cat puppet master and into spending a vacation on a dangerously dark island, just to earn some dirty money. It goes to show that kids must watch out for strangers; they may come across child abductors, pick-pockets or even pedophiles. This also goes for adults. I should know, I’ve encountered people who attempted to rip me off, change religions and ask for personal bank details, etc. Pinocchio demonstrates awareness that there are going to be bad things in life and exaggerates society effectively. The jackass sequence is wicked! meaning both harsh and enjoyable, simultaneously. Monstro’s bit is especially a fun climax. Anybody for a Jaws Vs. Monstro movie? Pinocchio is not only my favourite Disney movie, but one of my favourites in general. I also have to point out, Pinocchio is one of very few films, not just by Disney but in general, to not punish its villains. The theme song When You Wish Upon A Star is my all time favourite song. It contributes effectively to the films themes. The ending is also one of the best. I was both crying and smiling at the same time.
By the way, for the Disney Legend I was referring to earlier on, it’s the guy who did the voice of Pinocchio, Dickie Jones. 87; that was good going Dick, but I can’t believe you’re already gone. May you rest in peace.
Right I got something else to work on now, like tune a guitar, replace a light-bulb, fix a piece of monorail track or something. Hope you enjoyed reading my critiques.
And while I’m at it with my strange adventures, here are the un-rated films (the ones I have not seen);
Home On The Range
Meet The Robinsons
Winnie The Pooh