5 Underappreciated Animated Films (Disney)
Let's return to Disney for a bit...
This is probably one piece that I've been looking forward to for a VERY long time. As I said in my 5 Underappreciated Live-Action Disney Films, I grew up watching all the classics—Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and many, many others formed a huge part of my life.
As such, picking five animated films out of the myriad of Disney's films was close to impossible.
Well, let's get into it:
5: 'The Great Mouse Detective' (1986)
The Great Mouse Detective is basically Sherlock Holmes with mice. It's based on a book series, Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus.
The film follows a little Scottish mouse named Olivia as she travels to London to find the legendary Basil of Baker Street to help her find her father. Her father is a toy maker who is being held hostage by Basil's arch nemesis Professor Ratigan.
At the time of its release, the film made $38.7 million at the box office on a $14 million budget. This isn't all that impressive until you realize that The Black Cauldron came out the year before and almost bankrupted the animation department of Walt Disney Studios.
This was one of my all time favorite Disney films while I was growing up; and even now as an adult I still enjoy watching it every now and again.
Fun Fact: The villainous Professor Ratigan was voiced by Vincent Price.
4: 'The Aristocats' (1970)
A wealthy elderly lady names her cats (Duchess, Berlioz, Toulouse and Marie) as the primary beneficiaries in her will—with her butler Edgar inheriting everything AFTER the end of the cats' lifespan. The greedy butler catnaps Duchess and her kittens and they end up alone in the countryside where they meet Thomas O'Malley, an alley cat who, along with some of his buddies aids Duchess and her three little ones in returning home.
I LOVE this movie! Phil Harris (O'Malley) and Eva Gabor (Duchess) are genuine showstoppers and their performances are absolutely fantastic. Sterling Holloway and Pat Buttram take their own minor roles and successfully stand out—Buttram's role as the bloodhound Napoleon is particularly memorable to me.
One criticism that has been leveled at the film is that it's very forgettable and while I might not agree with that I can definitely see why people might think that way. It's not as well-known and it doesn't really stand out in comparison to films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin but it deserves some more attention.
3: 'Robin Hood' (1973)
Another classic that nobody really talks about anymore, 1973's Robin Hood takes the Robin Hood story and transplants it into the animal kingdom. Robin Hood is a fox, Little John's a bear, and so on.
If you're even remotely familiar with the Robin Hood mythos then you know what the story is. On the other hand, if you aren't familiar with the story then it's simple: Robin Hood is an outlaw who, with the aid of his friend Little John, robs from the rich and gives to the poor while doing battle with the villainous Prince John and Sheriff of Nottingham.
This is one that actually surprised me; I re-watched it a few months back and I was amazed that I could remember most of the songs almost verbatim. Of course, I had to sing along; it's a Disney film—the songs are insanely catchy!
Robin Hood was a huge financial success grossing $32 million at the box office—six times its $5 million budget.
2: 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1996)
Based on Victor Hugo's novel of the same, The Hunchback of Notre Dame follows Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, as he falls in love with a gypsy woman named Esmeralda and has to protect her from his adoptive father, Claude Frollo.
This is one of the darker entries in Disney's list of animated films but it's worth a watch. When it was released, the film was quite successful both critically and commercially.
Now, unlike many of the films on this list, I didn't watch this one as a kid. I only watched this one for the first time when I was about 15 or 16 years old and it struck a chord with me. The character of Quasimodo has always been kind of a favorite protagonist; watching him go from isolated and reclusive outcast to an accepted member of Parisian society was fun and heartwarming.
That said, not everyone was happy with the film. Fans of the novel were disappointed about the changes that Disney had made—I confess that it didn't make much sense to me until after I read the book and... well... all I can say is: what did you expect? There was also concern that the film would be too adult for children but that wasn't really an issue; the film was still a huge financial success.
1: 'Lady and the Tramp' (1955)
Lady and the Tramp was released in 1955 and made $187 million on a budget of $4 million.
The film follows a pair of dogs that spend time together and fall in love.
That's pretty much all I can say about the plot. It's a heartwarming film to watch and it's perfect for family viewing. The musical numbers are good, the animation is beautiful, and the characters are really likable.
This film doesn't get nearly as much attention as it deserves. As a side note: I didn't plan on this list being largely anthropomorphic animals—I promise—but these are my picks.