If you`re reading this piece, chances are Disney has had a considerable effect on your childhood. We`ve all dragged our parents (or children…) to the pictures to see the latest offering from the animation maestros, we know the songs by heart, and somewhere, we`ve probably got a godawful tie or pair of pants with Mickey Mouse`s face on.
Today, however, in celebration of the release of The Good Dinosaur, we`re looking at some of the lesser known masterpieces, the ones in danger of disappearing into extinction, that need digging up from the fossil bed.
10. The Three Caballeros (1944)
Our first pick is also the oldest film on our list and the seventh of Disney Animation Studios “classics”. A sequel of sorts to 1943`s Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros follows the misadventures of Donald Duck and his travelling companions Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles as they journey around Latin America taking in the exotic sights of Bahia and Mexico. A Wonderful mix of animation and live action, The Three Caballeros is as educational as it is charming, giving us an insight into the rich histories and traditions of the countries visited.
9. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Atlantis gets a bit of a bad press; nestled amongst a series of other oft-forgotten films in the post-renaissance period, being a non-princess, non-musical, non-cute-sidekick-featuring adventure romp, it didn’t really appeal to the usual Disney audiences. That said, the adventures of Milo and his team as they search for the lost city are beautifully animated and a welcome venture into the previously untouched sci-fi genre. One of the most unique entries into the canon, Atlantis is well-worth a viewing.
8. The Black Cauldron (1985)
Now, The Black Cauldron is not necessarily a good film; Disney`s darkest film by far, the sojourn into Welsh mythology was not well met by critics or audiences. Added to that, it was the first picture not to feature any songs. Hmm. BUT! Cinematically, it`s pretty darn important. The Black Cauldron is the first Disney animation to incorporate computer animation, and is also one of the first credits for a certain Mr. Tim Burton.
7. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Sandwiched between One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Jungle Book, The Sword in the Stone never gets the credit it deserves. A wonderful retelling of Arthurian legend, it is perhaps one of Disney`s funniest films, with some outstanding voice work, magical forays into the animal kingdom, and a wizard dueling finale between Merlin and the mad Madame Mimm that puts Harry and Voldemort to shame any day.
6. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
Often forgotten, The Rescuers Down Under holds the title for being the only Disney animated sequel to hit the big screen (save for Fantasia 2000 and many a Pooh movie), and in many ways it is better than its predecessor. With one of the most despicable villains in Disney history, the poacher McLeish, and his lizardy sidekick Joanna, Bernard and Bianca`s second outing also features the most breathtaking opening sequence ever to have been animated (and yes, I do include The Lion King in that).
5. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
With Henry Mancini`s rousing score and Vincent Price in what he considered to be his favourite role, Eve Titus` pint-sized tale tells of Sherlock Holmes` rodentine counterpart as he foils a villainous plot to kill mouse Queen Victoria. With some outstanding voice acting and a thrilling final fight amidst the cogs inside Big Ben, The Great Mouse Detective gets sadly forgotten, especially having been swiftly followed by the likes of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
4. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
The funny thing about Wreck-It Ralph is that on paper it is utterly ridiculous. Indeed, retelling the story makes it sound totally ludicrous; the villain in an ancient arcade game tires of being the baddie so escapes his own game and ends up helping another game`s glitch become a real character whilst at the same time saving a candy world from murderous space bugs. Oh, and Jane Lynch is the sexy one. Perhaps this is why word-of-mouth didn’t give the wonderful computer animated piece the reputation it deserves. Hilarious, tear-jerking and ultimately heart-warming, Wreck-It Ralph is the best film you`ve never seen.
3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
A beautiful princess, a handsome hero, Alan Menken`s phenomenal soundtrack… Hunchback has all the ingredients that worked for Aladdin, Enchanted, Tangled and many more. Problem is, it`s really freakin` dark. And Quasimodo, an angry hunchback whose only friends are figments of his imagination is not exactly your typical Disney character. Oh, and the baddie? A rapey Catholic obsessed with damnation. To be honest, it`s surprising that the studios ever commissioned this is the first place. But, it`s a bloody good film, and arguably some of Menkin`s finest work to date.
2. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Everyone is aware of The Princess and the Frog as it features the first African-American princess. But the film does not get the recognition it deserves as a film in its own right. A brief and beautiful return to traditional animation, it features all the ingredients that make a great Disney film; awesome music, fleshed out and funny side-kicks, and one of the most terrifying villains we`ve ever seen in animation, the diabolical voodoo witch-doctor Facilier. Although criticized for being too disturbing for a princess film, and its overly girly advertising campaign not attracting the audiences the studios had hoped, The Princess and the Frog is possibly the best Disney princess flick we`ve ever seen.
1. The Emperor`s New Groove (2000)
A buddy-buddy film about an Incan prince who gets turned into a llama? Oh yes, The Emperor`s New Groove is without a doubt our number one pick for most underrated Disney film of all time. Laugh out loud funny, it features the talent of John Goodman, David Spade and Eartha Kitt, along with Patrick Warburton at his career best as bumbling side-kick Kronk. Filled with fourth-wall-breaking humour and managing to make a morality tale actually fun, this is not only the most underrated, but also amongst the best Disney films ever.
The Good Dinosaur is out in cinemas nationwide now. You can check out our review here