411 Movies Top 5 11.29.13: Top 5 Disney Animated Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 11.29.2013
From Aladdin and The Lion King to Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast and more, the 411 staff counts down their top five animated Disney movies of all time!
Welcome to Week 402 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: It is Thanksgiving week and there is a new Disney movie coming out. Lets count down our Top 5 animated Disney movies (non-Pixar) for the holiday weekend.
Honorable Mentions: The Black Cauldron (1985), Sleeping Beauty (1959)
5. Aladdin (1992)
Everyone remembers this particular Disney movie for the voice work of 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 (1940)
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 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?). The whale section is also pretty dang creepy. The fun stuff is essentially the rest of the movie. There's jauntiness to everything, even the stuff that leads up to Pleasure Island. The scenes where Pinocchio and Gepetto bond are also amazing to watch.
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 (1977)
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 (1950)
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 just 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. Still amazing all these years later.
1. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
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 beautiful, the music is top notch (easily 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. The Fox and the Hound
Probably the most underrated of all Disney animated films, this 1981 charmer is a terrific story of a young fox and hound dog who meet as pups and quickly become best friends. However, when both realize that pup Copper is being bred to hunt fox Todd, it causes new tension and leads to some brutal choices. The sequences of the two playing as kids appeals to anyone who had a best friend and you feel the agony when, as adults, they face off as foes. Throw in Pearl Bailey as a wise owl and the comic relief of a pair of goofball birds hunting a caterpillar and it's a perfect Disney formula for success that still gets you three decades later.
4. The Great Mouse Detective
Another often overlooked film, this 1986 entry was one of the early showcases of a new generation of animators at work. Based on a series of books, it ably works a plot of a mouse who lives in the same home as Sherlock Holmes and just as great a detective. Basil is a fantastic character, smart as hell and you feel smarter watching him with his partner Dawson solve a kidnapping. The real reason to watch is Vincent Price, who clearly had the time of his life voicing master villain Ratigan, chewing the scenery with relish, complete with show-stealing song. There's great work such as when, in a seemingly impossible trap, Basil hits upon the idea of setting it off to escape and the final chase with Ratigan through Big Ben and in the skies is fitting for the fun adventure. A good showcase of the modern animation style but still old-fashioned Disney fun to go with it.
3. The Little Mermaid
The movie that kick-started the Second Golden Age of Animation, the 1989 classic still holds up today. The story is classic Disney as mermaid Ariel tries to win the heart of a prince but the actual animation still holds up well with how the underwater scenes work. The songs are classic from "Part of Your World" to "Under the Sea" and more, all done with great presentation. And Ursula ranks among the best Disney baddies ever, sly, seductive and vamping it up wonderfully with Pat Carroll's great voice performance. Put together, it's no wonder it started a new era of Disney magic as even today, it holds up as one of the most perfect animated films you can imagine.
Yes, Robin Williams' performance as the Genie is key to the success of this 1992 film as his wild, over-the top performance set a new standard for voice work. But the rest of the movie is still great with good animation, including some of the first mix of CGI in hand-drawn with a thrilling sequence in the Cave of Wonders and good turns by villainous Jafar and Iago. The music is great and it teaches a good lesson with how Aladdin has to accept who he really is rather than pretend to win the girl. Still, Williams is the reason to watch with his hysterical genie that showcases some of the best work Disney animators are capable of.
1. The Lion King
For now, let's just ignore the massive complaints of animation buffs over how it's a rip off of another film. The fact is, there's a reason this 1994 film remains one of the biggest animated smashes ever and that's how pure fun it is. The themes of sons following their fathers is clear but the film shows amazing range from the brilliance of its opening sequence to the horror of the wildebeest stampede to the laughs of Timon and Pumba to the great finale. The Elton John songs are great and the animation is sheer magic, showcasing a truly wonderful setting with characters that bounce to life wonderfully. It's probably the last truly great hand-drawn animated Disney film and still enthralls years later to remind you of the power of family which is what Disney is all about.