There are a lot of Disney movies, especially in recent past, that, though they’re wonderful movies, get a lot more hype than they really deserve.
Then there are these movies. Stellar little gems that are unfortunately overlooked and under-appreciated. I don’t just like these movies — I am passionately obsessed and if you disagree with any on this list, I will meet you with pistols at dawn.
Or balloon swords. Yeah, balloon swords are better.
5. The Great Mouse Detective
Alright, now that I’ve put you through the theatrics, I have to admit that this is the only movie on the list that I’m not super passionate about. I mostly think it helps me fill my Disney hipster quota of under-watched movies. But it’s a solid movie, and until this happened…
…it was hands down my favorite version of Sherlock Holmes out there. Yet no one seems to really watch it, or even talk about it anymore. It’s got a fun, silly plot, a goofy yet creepy villain, an anthropomorphized Holmes and Watson….what else do you need?
4. The Wind in the Willows
There’s a reason this film has such a cult following. It’s one of the most ridiculous, trippiest, and wonderful things Disney has ever done.
Go watch it immediately and enjoy your merry, merry, merry trip to nowhere in particular.
3. Princess and the Frog
Okay, now we’re going to get into some serious feelings.
I actually have one friend who, every time we talk, no matter where the topic starts, it inevitably ends in us discussing how much we love this movie and why, why oh why oh why, does the rest of the world not agree?
I adore this movie. It meant so much to me when the first advertisement was released…
“Yes!” I thought. “Finally, Disney is returning to what they do best, quality, hand drawn animation.” So, admittedly, I was already pre-disposed to liking this movie. And, I will concede, it’s not as good as Disney’s best renaissance films. But the sheer artistry of the animation makes this movie worthy all on its own. I mean, look at this.
Add to that some killer creole and jazz music (Newman haters come at me), one of my favorite Disney sidekicks of all time…
…not to mention a well rounded, ambitious princess who (and this is pretty rare in a Disney film) actually grows and changes for the better throughout the movie, and I am still sitting baffled as to why this wasn’t a bigger hit. You think Elsa was a feminist marvel? I mean, she was, but check Tiana out and then get back to me.
This movie was funny, it was moving, it was beautiful. So why didn’t more people go see it, like it, and buy the movie and merchandise so that we’d have more traditional hand drawn animation with complex characters? WHY!?!?!?!?
[Big Bro’s note: Meh.]
2. Lilo and Stitch
“What?” You say. “This movie isn’t underrated. Little kids love Stitch!”
Yes, Stitch himself gets a fair bit of attention, much to the chagrin of many adults who aren’t as big a fan of his humor. But I think people don’t pay attention enough to the movie itself, which is a solid, heartwarming tale about two orphan sisters, one who is a bit of a kooky, off-beat child with a fish-feeding obsession, and another who is barely a legal adult with an abandoned surfing career, and the struggle of the older sister to maintain a supportive job, create a suitable living environment for a young grieving child, despite really being a grieving child herself, with social workers breathing down her neck and threatening to take away the one remaining person in her family, and dealing with the difficult change in dynamic of big sister to parent.
You know, standard kids story.
Also, there’s some stuff with aliens. But, honestly, that part’s kinda fun.
Seriously, this movie has some deep shit in it. And you know how I fall to bits and pieces at “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday?” I do the same thing for this scene…
It’s the one bright spot in Disney’s Dark Age of Atrocious Animation. If you haven’t watched it in a while, I highly recommend another viewing. You might want to bring a few tissues.
[Big Bro’s note: Definitely not meh.]
1. Hunchback of Notre Dame
Alright, I’ve already discussed the genius that is the most amazing villain song ever created, “Hellfire” (it was one of my first posts, so forgive the lack of gif-age). But, long story short, adults re-watching Hunchback for the first time post-puberty are honestly astonished when they see that a modern Disney film would deal with subjects like religious corruption, political hypocrisy, and downright horniness.
That’s not even hidden enough to be subtext worthy of Dirty Disney. That’s just text. The villain in this film is a man who will destroy a city because he feels entitled to a woman’s body…seem at all relevant to today?
This is, hands down, the best score of any Disney film. Ever. And if anyone disagrees…
[Big Bro’s note: Sorry, gotta call ya on this one. You haven’t seen a dawn since Horizons closed.]
Don’t believe me? Just take a listen to the opening number.
The characters are all interesting and complex, the humor is a ton of fun — even my muggle father laughed like a little boy when he watched it –, and, yeah, the themes are deep as shit. It’s a movie that really resonates as well as it entertains. Maybe it’s not the most forgotten movie on this list, but it is certainly the most underrated.
Side note: I will have the great pleasure of seeing the new stage version at the Papermill Playhouse this weekend, and I will most certainly be giving a full report.
Follow me on twitter to get my first reactions!