Disney makes great movies most of the time. They are traditionally known for their timeless animated feature films that refuse to fade into obscurity. Unfortunately, many of their live-action efforts fall to the wayside, and are forgotten. That is, until now. We love these films (most of us). Hopefully this list rekindles or perhaps re-awakens your forgotten fond memories of yesteryear. Here are 10 great, underrated live-action Disney films.
10. 'Return to OZ' (1985)
What's wrong with this film? Why is it so underrated? One flaw: It is an adult film marketed as a kids' film. It was a bad idea. Making something as twisted and scary as this film, and not appropriately advertising it will irritate people, and they sure pissed off a lot of people with this movie. The film underperformed severely but remains one of the most imaginative "land of Oz" films of all time.
9. 'The Rocketeer' (1991)
If nothing else, this film made me want to be a pilot. While I don't fly planes like Cliff does, I have some helicopter experience under my belt, and probably wouldn't if it weren't for this movie. I digress. The movie didn't make back more than its budget, which is funny because it's like "the perfect little movie." It's just fun. Fun is the best word to describe this film. You can't watch it without having a good time.
7. 'Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey' (1993)
More people will probably remember this film than any other on this list. It's hard not to. When I saw this, I couldn't believe they got the animals to do all the things in this film they needed them to do. To me, it was pretty groundbreaking.
Remember this tearjerking scene?
6. 'The Adventures of Huck Finn' (1993)
What was it about 1993 that made Disney want to make these high-adventure action films for younger audiences? I don't know, but they appeared to do it well. This is the movie where I learned about terrible stuff like slavery. I was in awe that a man had to physically run away from being captured and used as a slave. I was like, "why the heck would people do that?" Elijah Wood is incredible in this film, and I admire his performance.
5. '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1954)
Kirk Douglas is the ultimate likable badass and he's still alive at age 99. No one seems to remember this film. Although this movie did well during its release it's since been brushed aside. Hogwash, I say. This is a fine film. Kirk Douglas punches a gigantic squid. That's all you need to know.
4. 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' (1971)
This is the movie that every time it would be on TV while we were flipping through, every kid in the room would immediately turn their heads and go "Ohhh! I LOVE this movie!" Yep. It's that movie. It's the Mary Poppins alternative. Why is this movie so much fun? I don't know. An interdimensional flying bed is just... well... great. It's a great idea, and they ran with it. Didn't make back its budget though.
3. 'Newsies' (1992)
Look at me, I'm an underrated film. I'm a Newsies fan, and you should be too. The singing and dancing! Man the singing and dancing. It was so... COOL. I saw this when I was an impressionable 6-year-old. Fast forward 10 years and I'm doing musicals in high school. This movie made me see that singing and dancing was freaking cool, and indeed, it is. It's badass. Does that make this a good movie? Absolutely. Regardless of the story (which is actually decent) this is still a good film. People are far too hard on this film. Get up and dance.
2. 'The Three Musketeers' (1993)
Again with the 1993 stuff. Seriously, I don't know why, but 1993 Disney films were undoubtedly great films. This film is almost universally looked down upon by critics. All I can say is, that is too bad. Stop being so cynical. It's a good movie. It's hard to believe that Kiefer Sutherland is 27 years old here. When I saw it I thought "man this guy is, like, ancient." Now, I am a year older than he was when he made this. I feel ancient. Tim Curry is just terrible in this movie. By 'terrible' I mean he is a terrible person in the film. Curry is always going to be a bad guy in my book. This is the second best version of the Three Musketeers I have seen. That's saying a lot, as there are so many adaptations. It's that good. My favorite will always be The Man in The Iron Mask, though. I love watching Malkovich scream at people.
1. 'Iron Will' (1994)
Hey, it's not from 1993, but it might as well be (1994, actually). I've put this at the top because the film has a message that can be very cliché if not done correctly, but it was done very well here. I don't know of anyone else who really knows much about this film, or remembers it. It's a shame because it's a really great script. The message that the film gets across is that you can accomplish that thing no one else thinks you can. Like I said, it could be a clichéd message, but it's done here with great tact. Mackenzie Astin, Brian Cox, and Kevin Spacey. Brilliant performances by all. Give it a watch.