The 411 Movies Top 5: The Top 5 Disney Animated Movies
The 411 Movies Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Movies Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week’s topic…
The Top 5 Disney Animated Movies (Non-Pixar)
5. ALADDIN – Everyone remembers this particular Disney movie for the voice work of the now late but always great Robin William as Genie, which is brilliant (the animators captured Williams’ craziness and, with the voice, it still feels as though it’s the real life Williams mugging on camera), but for me the big draw is the villain, Jafar, voiced by Jonathan Freeman. He’s an absolute bad guy, creepy, arrogant, and just plain evil. But he also has that great line where Jasmine’s father, while introducing Aladdin, says that Jafar is delighted to meet him, too, and Jafar says “Ecstatic.” I crack up every time I think of it. And Gilbert Gottfried is great as Jafar’s parrot Iago, too. While the animation is top notch, I don’t think it’s as beautiful to look at as other Disney movies. For me, it’s all about the performances for this one.
4. PINOCCHIO – This is the best Disney movie in terms of balancing fun stuff and scary stuff. The scary stuff, of course, is the Pleasure Island sequence of the movie, a sequence that still gives me the willies to this day. Watching those kids turn into donkeys and then cry for their mothers is just so sad. Yes, I get the whole moral point of that section of the movie, but it’s still incredibly awful (those kids may have been punks but did they really deserve to be transformed into animals and shipped off to God knows where? And the Coachman is a piece of crap. Someone needs to take that guy down a peg). The whale section is also pretty dang creepy. The fun stuff is essentially the rest of the movie. There’s a jauntiness to everything, even the stuff that leads up to Pleasure Island. The scenes where Pinocchio and Gepetto bond are also quite touching. Oh, and am I the only one who, every time he watches the scene where Honest John sings “Hi-Diddle-Dee,” ends up singing that goddamn song for the rest of the day?
3. THE RESCUERS – The Rescuers is the first movie I ever saw in a movie theatre, although I really didn’t start to fully appreciate it until I saw it on home video. It’s a movie about two mice, who are part of something called the Rescue Aid Society, trying to rescue a little girl from an awful old woman and her dumbass henchman. The old woman, Miss Medusa, needs the little girl Penny to obtain a gigantic diamond. I remember the stuff in the swamp, Miss Medusa’s stronghold, as being surprisingly dark and kind of weird. The alligator thing was nifty, too. The 1990 sequel The Rescuers Down Under is a little lighter and still plenty of fun, but the original is still amazing. I think I need to see this again soon.
2. CINDERELLA – I didn’t particularly care for Cinderella the first time I saw it. However, the movie started to grow on me the more I watched it, and by about the tenth time it became a personal favorite. The little mice are a hoot, the stepsisters are butt ugly and awful, and the wicked stepmother is just so damn evil. She’s such a jerk to Cinderella, treating her like crap, always putting her down and keeping her down. Locking her in the attic to keep her away from the prince still pisses me off (how dare she do that!). And, yeah, just like “Hi-diddle-dee” with Pinocchio, that damn “Cinderelli” song the mice sing is catchy as hell. I’m actively hearing it now in my head as I write this. Always worth watching.
1. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – The first cartoon movie to get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Beauty and the Beast is a triumph through and through. The animation is nothing short of beautiful, the music is top notch (still the best soundtrack of any Disney cartoon), and the voice work is outstanding. I’m still in awe of the work of Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, and David Ogden Stiers. And how about Gaston, the flick’s villain? What a freaking douchebag. He isn’t as outwardly evil as the stepmother in Cinderella or even Jafar in Aladdin, but his arrogance, while sort of humorous at the beginning, is infuriating for most of the movie. I love it when he falls to his death. That may be weird to say, but it’s true. The guy is just a douchebag. Disney will probably never outdo this one.
5. ALADDIN A vibrant mix of new animation styles and even CGI, this 1992 smash ranks among the best ever. The key, of course, is Robin Williams with his hysterical turn as the Genie, pulling off wild jokes and lines but still nailing the heart of the story. The songs are great like “Friend Like Me” and others and Jafar is among the best of all Disney villains. The animation is terrific with great action and a high energy you don’t often see and it all comes together into a film among one of the best achievements of the studio ever.
4. FROZEN Yes, you may be sick of that song by now but that doesn’t take away from all terrific this mega-smash is. It sends up the clichés of Disney stories with how the princesses are the main characters, not needing a man to save them and “true love” not being what you’d expect. The music is great with Idina Menzel blowing the roof off with “Let It Go” and Kristen Bell matching her to create the bond that forms the film’s backbone. Still funny and able to work out very well to be listed among Disney’s best, cash cow or not.
3. THE FOX AND THE HOUND The most underrated Disney animated film, this lovely fable focuses on the friendship of the title characters, meeting as kids and becoming friends before realizing they’re supposed to be enemies. Pearl Bailey is a great touch as the owl helping out with song and the goofball birds hunting a catapiller are great fun too. It’s a truly moving tale of friendship against all odds that deserves a wider audience to show the magic Disney can provide.
2. FANTASIA Truly ahead of its time, this stunning 1940 film holds up today as one of Walt’s greatest achievements. Mixing animation and classical music is easy in theory but the way the segments work is spectacular. From the Nutcracker Suite to the dinosaurs to Mickey as the Apprentice, it all culminates in the fantastic “Night on Bald Mountain” segment that can rock you still. The 2000 retake with new segments was good but the original remains arguably Walt’s greatest masterpiece and one for lovers of animation and music alike.
1. THE LION KING Put aside talk on how it takes off a Japanese movie and this is still a fantastic achievement. From the stellar animation to the voice cast, the musical score, all of it gels just perfectly. Jeremy Irons is fantastic as Scar, one of the greatest villains ever and the Elton John songs are still genius. It inspired a hit stage show and countless records sold and over twenty years later it remains the fantastic height of hand-drawn powers for Disney and still one of the greatest animated films ever.
Wednesday Lee Friday
5. Pinocchio (1940) – One of my peeves with Disney cartoon features is how many of the girl-stories end with a wedding, while so many of the boy-stories end up with a coronation. Not so, Pinocchio. A lonely old man’s wish is granted by the Blue Fairy, and a little wooden boy is born. This feature boasts an adorable cast designed before kid’s movies were 90 minute ads for toys and soundtracks. I love that this movie has a great message without being preachy, and think Jiminy Cricket should be everyone’s best friend. The scenes with the whale remind us all of why hand-drawn animation is still the best. I didn’t find out for decades after I first saw Pinocchio that “stromboli” was a food.
4. Wreck-It Ralph (2012) – Being a casual gamer, modern video game humor has to be close to universal for me to get it. Wreck-It Ralph succeeds in jokes that everyone from kids to oldsters can “get,” and spins them into an artful, thrilling, and deeply moving film that may make you cry more than once. Sarah Silverman is at her least annoying, whereas Jane Lynch brought out my inner sapphic poet in a big way. And who wouldn’t want to live in a visually stunning land made entirely out of candy? I love the character development in this film, and how it really does make one look at classic video games a little differently.
3. The Sword in the Stone (1963) – Possibly the greatest way to experience the early years of the King Arthur legend. We meet young “Wart” as a squire to a boorish jag, and watch as he falls under the tutelage of Merlin and his owl Archimedes. There are animal transformations, memorable tunes, and a colossal wizard duel that puts Harry Potter to shame. Even though I just said I hate how many Disney hero stories end with a coronation—I don’t mind it when it’s one of the greatest fantasy heroes of all time. And you know, come November we Americans might wish we selected our leaders via sword and stone.
2. Alice in Wonderland (1951) – When I finally got around to reading Lewis Carroll in high school, I was shocked to see how dark Alice’s stories really were. Until that point, I only knew Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, which is a whole lot lighter and full of sparkling voice work. Sure, she almost drowns a few times, is accused of being a serpent, and comes close to having her head chopped off by an obviously bi-polar queen. But this Disney animated version is still less likely to cause nightmares than Carroll’s original tale. I love the singing flower garden, the tale of the curious oysters, and of course, the stoner caterpillar.
1. Fantasia (1940) – What else is there to say about Fantasia that hasn’t already been said? It hoped to usher in a new era of combining classical music pieces with contemporary animation. Sadly, aside from a few entries by Merrie Melodies—it didn’t catch on. The theatrical lineup of Fantasia has changed over the years, but all the best bits are available on the Blu-Ray. And yes, Sunflower the slave-pony was edited out of any release of this film in any home-viewing format. It can be found on YouTube, but is not embeddable. My faves are Night on Bald Mountain and Rite of Spring. But there’s really not a bad segment to be had. Note that the end credits of Fantasia do not feature music—a rarity for any film.
Shawn S. Lealos
5. Lady and the Tramp – I wanted to have Pinocchio on my list, and some might unfairly accuse me of not appreciating the classic Disney animated movies. That isn’t a true fact. I love classic Disney and still love to watch them with my son. However, there is something about the more recent Disney output that I feel puts it above the rest. That is why the oldest movie on my list only goes back to 1955. There is something I always loved about Lady and the Tramp. It has stuck with me. I remember working at a pizza place that had a kid’s movie room in it like 20 years ago and they played Lady and the Tramp in there and I still loved it then. I don’t really know what it is, but it is probably like my wife’s love for Robin Hood. It just stuck with me and still attracts me to it to this day.
4. The Fox and the Hound – Moving way ahead, I actually saw The Fox and the Hound when it was new, and it really struck me. There was something about two childhood friends who were forced to become enemies when they grew up that really affected me as a child. Then, there was the fact that friendship still stood strongest when the adversity grew and it was their friendship that saved both their lives. This movie was really powerful for me as a child and remains a great Disney classic for kids to catch today.
3. Big Hero 6 – On to the new movies. I am a Marvel guy, and anyone who read my Alternate Takes columns knows that. I was surprised when the first Marvel theatrical animated movie was something that no one outside of hardcore comic fans had ever heard of, but it was smart. Big Hero 6 is an origin story and was a hugely successful one, both critically and at the box office ($657 million). The story had the darkness that Disney is known for (the death of a loved one spurs on the hero) and it had great animation and action. It stands tall with the live action Marvel movies.
2. Wreck-It Ralph – Honestly, start back with Tangled in 2010, and Disney has been on a role when it comes to really good animated movies. Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-it-Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and now Zootopia, and there is not a dud in the bunch. When it comes to all those movies, Wreck-it-Ralph really stands out in my eyes. Honestly, there has been crap when it comes to video game movies over the years, and Wreck-it-Ralph may not be based on a video game, but it might be the best video game movie ever made. This movie was just brilliant.
1. The Lion King – It was Beauty and the Beast that really took the world by storm and showed that Disney was back, but damn if The Lion King wasn’t the best of the batch when it comes to Disney’s new golden age. Aladdin, Little Mermaid, and Mulan were all good, but Lion King was exactly what a Disney movie really is. A tragic loss to lead the hero on his way, great characters as the hero learns his role in the world, and then a great character arc as he returns and takes his place. This movie is Disney and is, in my opinion, the best Disney movie of all time.
YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLS
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