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In which we give credit where credit is due…

May 11, 2010

Maybe it’s because I have immunity to maturity, or maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic, either way I’ve really wanted to do a post about some Disney films that I consider seriously underrated.  I mean I love the Princess movies, Dumbo still makes me weep like a baby, and Pixar can do no wrong (actually they can: cars); but there are some real gems that are non-princess, non-CG, non-classic which shouldn’t be ignored.

It ended up being much harder to make my list than I had anticipated, because while going through my options, I just kept adding more and more titles – it started as “underrated animated Disney films”, then it became “underrated Disney films” because for goodness sakes I really really loved The Journey of Natty Gann, Newsies, and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. In the end though, I decided to stick with animated Disney films though, and maybe save the others for individual posts later (seriously, I love Natty Gann & Wild Hearts… and I don’t even get me started on Escape to Witch Mountain). But here, after much hee-ing and haw-ing, and without further adieu – the most underrated animated Disney films:

Fantasia (1940) & Fantasia 2000 (1999) – combining two of life’s greatest things since 1940: music and animation!

Say what you will, but both of these films are beautiful and exciting. Initially I wouldn’t qualify Fantasia as being underrated, but when I realized there are a ton of children who have never seen it because it’s been locked in the Disney vault for so long, I had to add it (can you imagine it on BluRay?!). As a little girl, it took me a long time to lose my first baby tooth. A very long time. An entire year longer than all of my classmates. When it finally happened the tooth fairy brought me a VHS copy (I mean copy… as in home recorded and fabulous) of Fantasia to commemorate this momentous occasion. To this day it is an enormous favorite of mine. Fantasia 2000 revisited the particular magic of fantasia very tastefully, although I could have done without the sorcerer’s apprentice. That has always been my least favorite part. Give me goldfish, fairies, and fawns over stupid Mickey in wizard hat or give me death – to take it to the Paine level.

The Emperor’s New Groove- (2000) “Beware of the groove”

With the voice talents of David Spade, John Goodman, and Eartha Kit, why is this movie not more popular?! It really very funny. Sadly, and this will come up again on this list, I really think it’s the adult appeal that caused this movie to slip through the cracks.  Disney put too much grown-up punch and not enough kid punch in this one – the kids didn’t understand it enough to force their parents to take them to see it. Same goes for the next on our list

Hercules – (1997) “I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day.”

The swirly Greek-influence of this design did not appeal to many viewers, but as a movie, Hercules goes the distance. Ha! Get it! There’s a song, and it says that, ha, funny right? No?… Oh… Ok, awful joking aside, the movie is great and if you look closely, in only the way a Disney film can, it pokes fun at other Disney greats (hint: look at what Hercules wears while being painted on the Greek Urn). Yes it takes unaccountable liberties with myth (after all, this is Disney we’re talking about), but it also adds a lot of intelligent myth based humor! Plus, the music is sassy and bold, and the Muses and Meg are fem forces to be reckoned with. Also, James Woods is the voice of Hades. Nothing more to say there.

Lilo & Stitch-(2002) “My friends need to be punished”

This movie is adorable, made even more so by the fact that it’s so realistic. Realistic. Alien monsters… realistic? Well not that part. But Lilo and her sister are incredibly realistic,  human and, in Lilo’s case,  strange. Not strange in the Ralph Wigam, “my cat’s breath smells like cat food,” way,  but in the “I’m different and nobody plays with me,” touching and true-to-life way. Nothing makes me smiles as much as Lilo’s peanut butter eating fish, or her “blue period”. She is sweet and bad at the same time- just like all the real children I’ve met (except for the ant killer. He wasn’t sweet at all).

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