In honor of Moviefan12's one year anniversary of blogging on thatguywiththeglasses.com, I am listing my top 13 animated Disney movies. Why top 13? Because I'm an unlucky bastard. So let's get started. Beware, some entries may contain spoilers.
Hercules was my first glimpse at Greek Mythology. After that, I became entranced by it. I started looking everything up about it. But the books I looked at were more kid-friendly versions of the myths. It wasn't until years later that I found out that those versions and the Hercules movie itself weren't true to the myths. And the pop culture references do bog down the movie. But what makes up for the family-friendly version of the myth and pop culture references are James Woods' portrayal of Hades and the climax of the story. James Woods as Hades is a laugh-riot. I think that makes him almost as good as the more menacing villains. With comic relief villains, they are usually a pain to watch; because they aren't funny. Hades can be a great comic-relief villain and occasionally can be very menacing, especially in the climax of the movie; where Hercules must actually face a real trial, unlike what the whole movie has led up to.
And as for the music, it's okay; nothing special, except for one song. I Won't Say (I'm in Love) is good enough to listen on it's own. I should also mention that the love interest in this movie is not as wholesome as previous Disney leading ladies. She is way more sultry and seductive than her predecessors, and especially more than another love interest that will be mentioned later in the list (, which is pretty damn surprising when you see who she beat). It provides a good contrast to Hercules' boy scout nature. While not the best Disney animated movie in a long run, it has its merits and has great nostalgia for me.
12) The Black Cauldron
This is one of Disney's darkest and underrated movies. Based on some of the books from the fantasy novel series The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, this movie has the charm of a lot of other fantasy movies from that decade. It seems like a Disneyfied version of Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings. Now I've never read the books, I liked the charm of the movie and unusual darkness of the movie. Even though it is underrated, it isn't great. It's good for a fantasy movie from Disney.
11) Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp
Now I never saw Ducktales that much as a kid. And yes, I had the Ducktales theme song stuck in my head too. It will never leave. But I enjoyed it all the same. Amazingly, it got very dark at and near the climax of the movie. This movie's genie predates Robin Williams' Genie, and maybe even surpasses him. In a lot of ways, it plays out like a cross between Ducktales and an Indiana Jones movie. Hell, even the guy who made the poster was aware of this. It still captures what made the show so great, while giving it something that can stand on its own. What else can I say, but Ducktales.
10) The Hunchback of Notre Dame
This movie is one of Disney's darkest films. It's amazing how they managed to take Victor Hugo's dark tale and make it more kid friendly while still keeping a lot of the themes present from the novel. From the operatic flashback told by the gypsey jester, to the exciting climax of the movie. Now I have never read the novel, but I have heard what they changed. Now I will say I mega-loathe the comic relief in this movie, the gargoyles. Unfortunately, this is a step down in Disney's portrayal of gargoyles (you know what I'm talking about). They really bring the movie down. This could have higher on the list had it not been for those three annoyances. Now a way to explain how he is able to have conversations with those things, is that his isolation from humanity caused him to become crazy. He actually thinks he is talking to those things. And when have we ever seen them walk (err, hop) and talk while somebody besides Quasimodo was in the room.
And let's not forget the fridge horror lesson of the movie: The beautiful blond guy is chosen over the ugly nice protagonist of the movie. Oh the unfortunate implications of that choice in the movie. Now I know that nobody gets her in the book, but obviously that wouldn't work for Disney. (Well, Quasimodo did in a very, incredibly creepy way.) But did they really have to unintentionally teach children that no one will date you unless you are beautiful by traditional standards? Now I understand that it was noble for Quasimodo to concede to Phoebus, but it still has horrific implications. Later Disney realized this fridge horror and made a sequel allowing Quasimodo to get a girlfriend. But if they had just paired Quasimodo and Esmerelda up in the first place, they wouldn't have had to make a sequel. They would have just made one out the horribleness of their greedy hearts.
And of course I must mention why Quasimodo, Phoebus, and Frollo are so hung up over Esmerelda. She is stunningly beautiful, strong-willed, witty, and sexy. Honestly, Esmerelda is one of the most feminist characters out there, while being hot and sexy. She stands up for the weak against powerful leaders, even at her own risk in a male-dominated society that has outlawed her kind. And she is unknowingly seductive.
P.S. Did you know that Quasimodo was voiced by the man that played Mozart in Amadeus?
9) The Great Mouse Detective
It is basically a Sherlock Holmes story told by mice. What's not to love? This is the movie that led to the Disney Renaissance. It has a maturity about it, that comes from its Sherlock roots that even adults will enjoy it. This is one of two 1986 animated movies about mice that had emotional depth and maturity to them. The other one is An American Tail. Before Dreamworks was competing with Disney, Don Bluth was Disney's rival; until Don Bluth ran his own career into the ground by making crappy movies. You know the ones which are crappy. But I digress. The Great Mouse Detective is a great mystery that would be worthy of an actual Sherlock Holmes story.
8) The Lion King
HAMLET WITH LIONS! 'nuff said. But the reason it isn't higher on the list is that the musical numbers and Timon and Pumbaa feel out of place with the content and theme of the story. Now I know that Timon and Pumbaa are based on Hamlet characters just like the rest of the cast, but their dialogue just doesn't go with the rest of everything; and of course, the hyenas as well.
Aladdin is riddled with the traditional Disneyfication of adaptating a classic less-family friendly story, but that doesn't stop it from creating a great work that even adults can enjoy. Aladdin, himself, is only okay. It is Jasmine that shines in this movie. I think Jasmine paved the way for characters like Esmerelda to shine. Jasmine wants to marry for the right reasons, not to get married for the sake of getting married. And she is fed up with the royal suitors her father has chosen for her. I mean looking at the one we do see, is it any surprise that we sympathize with her? And Robin Williams' Genie shines even more than Jasmine. His comic portrayal of the Genie is one role that will never be forgotten.
He easily has the best song in the whole movie: Friend Like Me. Forget A Whole New World. Friend Like Me has more going for it. And while Jafar may be a typical villain, this is probably the first time that a villain had romantic interest in the hero's love interest. Well what about Eric and Ursula from The Little Mermaid? Well I think that she was interested in taking down Ariel, King Trident, and the mermaids. She wasn't really interested in Eric, just that it would turn Ariel's deal in her favor. That's why I think Jafar is the first villain to be interested in the hero's love interest.
Granted, some people may say that it is only because marrying her will give him control of the kingdom; but even after he became a wizard and took control of the kingdom, he still showed interest and sure seemed to like that fake kiss from Jasmine. It is a great movie; and I may be the only one, but I liked the sequels, especially Return of Jafar. Return of Jafar compared to the first one was like The Empire Strikes Back in terms of theme. Does it mean it is better than the first one? No, but it certainly has its own merits.