Disney has released a plethora of wonderful films, TV shows, and animated shorts all deserving of the title "Masterpiece." However, only certain ones are remembered as classics, or hits, or masterpieces. And I just think it's unfair. So, now it's time to shed a little light on a few of the lesser known animated Disney movies out there that are just as good as The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast or whatever your favorite Disney movie is.
Disclaimer: the following list is based not only on the films being underrated and overlooked, but also on my own personal opinion. If you agree, great. If you disagree, even better. Let's just try and keep the comments section clean, okay? Or at the very least no name calling.
10. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Coming in the number ten spot today is none other than The Great Mouse Detective which follows three mice in their attempts to save the Queen of England from the evil clutches of Professor Ratigan.
It was a good movie with an interesting enough plot, but it was slow going and hard to really get into. The younger version of myself thoroughly enjoyed this movie and thought Basil of Baker Street was a genius. Today, I know he's just a lesser version of Sherlock Holmes.
However, this isn't a movie you watch for Basil. You watch it because Dr. David Q. Dawson (the poor sap who was dragged into Basil's schemes), and Olivia Flaversham (whose last name Basil can never pronounce), for Fidget (the deranged bat who seriously needed better friends), and even for Professor Ratigan who seemed a more likable character than Basil, after whom the movie was named.
9. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
This particular movie gave me nightmares when I was younger. So why does it rank higher than The Great Mouse Detective? I already put everything down about The Great Mouse Detective and I'm too lazy to move it around.
This movie is slightly higher because it is way more overlooked and underrated than The Great Mouse Detective. Where the headless horseman terrified me, I loved everything else about this movie. Mr. Toad's eccentric attitude and love for adventure was intoxicating and little contagious. And I love all things horror now that I'm older.
Honestly, the only reason it gave me nightmares is because we don't know what happened to Ichabod. I also watched this movie when I was much younger than when I saw The Great Mouse Detective. And the two stories in this movie, though they take up less time, are better thought out and have more likable characters.
And to be honest, the cat from The Great Mouse Detective gave me nightmares as well. And oddly enough, so did the robotic Queen that Mr. Flaversham was forced to make.
8. Fox and the Hound (1981)
What makes Disney movies - scratch that - what makes all movies so great? The feels! And, boy, did this movie have feels all over the place.
The movie starts off in a grim place with the death of Tod's mother (shocker, right?). Then Tod becomes best friends with Copper and they promise to be best friends forever. Then, when Copper comes back from a hunting trip and the two bros are all grown up, it turns out that promise was broken. And then Tod has to leave Widow Tweed. But then things start to look like they're going to get better when Tod meets Vixey. And then once again, Copper betrays Tod and they both nearly get killed by a bear.
There's a little more to it than that, but I think you get the gist of it. And the worst part is this movie has no true happy ending, at least not your classic Disney ending. Which could possibly be why it's one of my favorite Disney movies to date.
But, this movie truly is a masterpiece. It teaches kids more about friendship than Winnie the Pooh does. It shows that as we grow older, people change and your friendships change. But if that person is a true friend, the relationship will not die. No matter how angry you think you are at that person.
7. Treasure Planet (2002)
If you couldn't tell how much I love this movie from what I've said about it previously, then let me fill you in a little here. This movie takes the whole idea of a likable villain and turns it upside down. Our villain here is less of a villain and more of anti-hero who we neither love to hate or hate to love. John Silver is just a genuinely likable guy with more or less good intentions and this might be the first (and only) time Disney was able to accomplish this.
This movie should've done a lot better than it did. It came out during the same year as Lilo and Stitch and around the same time as the Pirates of Caribbean movies which were blowing up. It combined the best of both those movies (more or less) and should've been a success because of it and because of the wonderful story. But it wasn't.
6. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
This movie was actually one of my brother's favorite Disney movies for quite a while there. I think it might be because our Dad shares the name with the main character. But then again it might just be because this was a pretty fantastic movie.
Unlike The Fox and the Hound, this movie doesn't really play on your feels, but another great aspect of movies is learning lessons, and The Sword in the Stone teaches that knowledge is more important than strength.
The movie is also great because it features an all knowing character who is self-aware and breaks the fourth wall. I'm talking about Merlin who informs Arthur that he is one of the most famous figures in history and in motion pictures.
5. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
This is the only sequel Disney has ever made that I enjoy more than the original. The Rescuers Down Under is visually stunning and has an intricate plot with wonderful characters. The movie also manages to sneak in a bit of a love story that easily gets overshadowed by the important parts of the movie and doesn't manage to clog up the movie or slow the plot.
Disney movies are known to have lovable sidekicks and I think Wilbur, Jake, and Joanna all fit the bill here. Wilbur and Joanna cover the comic relief for both the hero and villain respe-ctively, while Jake provides conflict between protagonists with the minor love story.
4. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
This movie is so quotable and it's so sad that not enough people have heard of it. What's even more sad is that most of the people who have, don't love it with all their hearts. I've already stated that we need a sequel to it titled "Keeping up with the Robinsons" or something like that.
This movie touched on the post-apocalyptic world trope that is blowing up right now. It also touched on time travel which has always been well received. So why did it fail? Seriously, I want to know why. This movie deserves more recognition.
3. Brave Little Toaster (1987)
Similar to Toy Story, inanimate objects come to life in hopes of reuniting with their master lead by one seemingly simple object with a heart of gold.
Toaster leads his friends through a forest, over a waterfall, through a swamp, to an appliance shop of horrors, back to their owner Rob, and out of a crusher at a junkyard. He sacrificed himself to save his friends and ended up surviving the events.
2. Dinosaur (2000)
Barring the unimaginative title, this movie tells the harrowing story of a herd of dinosaurs of varying species coming together to find a safe haven from the meteor that has destroyed nearly everything in its path. Not only relying on conflict between the hers and the newcomers Aladar the Iguandaon and the lemurs Yar, Suri, Zini, and Plio, the movie also adds in the two lethal Carnotaurus to hunt down the herd.
This one lands in at number two because of my personal love for this movie and the fact that I nearly forgot about it. This movie lands in my top ten favorite Disney movies ever behind only The Lion King and Aladdin. And the fact that I was able to forget about it proves that it's severely overlooked.
Or I'm forgetful.
1. The Black Cauldron (1985)
And our number one overlooked and underrated movie is none other than The Black Cauldron. This movie definitely gave me nightmares. But I loved it nonetheless. I actually willingly watched this movie when I was younger knowing it would give my nightmares. That's how much I liked it.
This movie has everything you need to be a Disney classic. A hero looking for something more out of life (Taran). A damsel in distress who is hardly ever actually in distress (Princess Eilonwy). The lovable sidekicks (Gurgi and Hen Wen). Villains galore (The Horned King and the three witches, Orduu, Orgoch, and Orwen). Fairies and other magical creatures. Feeling all the feels (Gurgi's sacrifice as well as Taran giving up his magical sword to revive Gurgi). And an undead army!
Okay, that last one isn't really a Disney trope. But the rest of it is. And yet this move was fated to fail. Of all the movies I've listed so far, I feel this one is most overlooked and most underrated because it had everything it needed to be great and still fell short.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
- Oliver and Company (1988)
- Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998)
- Emperor's New Groove (2000)
- Home on the Range (2004)