The Hauer Brothers are back at it again, delivering a new ranking of good ol’ movies (or bad ol’ ones) we just can’t live without! Today’s post is dealing with those dastardly impressionable features that have been passed down from generation to generation, and don’t seem to be going away from our DVD shelves, internet memes, and most importantly: our hearts and minds. If you guessed Disney Animation, you’d be right.
Instead of tackling the entire conglomerate head on, Ian and I, who are loyal fans of Disney, thought it would entertaining to share our ranking of the megastudio’s illustrious animated feature film department by personal childhood wonder or narcissistic criticism. In short, without voluptuous words or bad grammar on my part, Ian and I wanted to rank Disney Animated Features from worst to greatest–in our opinion.
The list is long, so for various reasons, Ian and I decided to skip the movies between Bambi and Cinderella, which are mainly composed of anthology-like features, Winnie-the-Pooh movies (nothing against the bear or his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood), and Fantasia 2000. Since the world is full of enormous fans of these films, many will find this list unfair, unreal, or just plain silly. Keep in mind, these are Ian and I’s personal ranking. I will speak for myself on one thing: this list is very likely to change.
I have organized these 47 entries from worst to best. They are broken up into five tiers, which explain themselves quite clearly. Please check out Ian’s companion blog post here. And please feel free to comment on either or and let us know thoughts–as long as they don’t pertain to some political grievance about the Song of the South.
TIER V – The Unspeakable: Just embarrassingly awful
47. Dinosaur (2000)
The bottom of my barrel is a Land Before Time
rip-off and a Fantasia Rite of Spring re-imagining that lacks style,
fun, and story altogether. While initial critical praise was
adequately given to the film’s computer animation and detailed
backgrounds, they ultimately fall short of photorealistic rendering.
It’s a movie I only saw once, and would rather ask for a poke in the
eye than an opportunity to watch over again.
Character: I didn’t favor any characters in Dinosaur, but, um, I guess Plio?
Line: No good line save for the crash of the asteroid hitting earth.
46. Dumbo (1941)
Never cared for this oldie. I probably will never
leave it on my kids’ shelf of Disney flicks. A dull and borish use of
cutting edge animation. I get the feeling that it was a rejected
piece from Fantasia because it was too depressing or nightmarish for
little kids. The last ten minutes or so are the “best”, but not even
close to redeeming the first hour.
Character: Timothy Q. Mouse
Line: “Dumbo, you’re a climax.”
Song: “When I See An Elephant Fly”
45. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Disturbing and unsettling. Lewis Carroll’s book should never have been adapted to begin with, but Disney imagined they could handle it. They turned all of Carroll’s
literary “madness” into hot-tempered characters that were either plain
or upsetting. The Cheshire Cat was fine? I hate to say it—but I’d
honestly watch the 2010 live action remake above rewatching the
Character: Cheshire Cat
Line: “I’m late!”
Song: “The Unbirthday Song”
44. Black Cauldron (1985)
Just…NO. While some dark fantasy junkie out there might get a chuckle out of this mutation, I would personally dissuade anyone and everyone from ever watching this. Does Disney remember having a vault? They need to toss Cauldron in there and
throw away the key. A loose plot that attempts to reminisce Lord of
the Rings, poor characters, weak animation, a non-intimidating villain
(the hunter in Bambi had more moxie), and a disoriented pace. Don’t
waste your time.
Character: The Narrator
Line: Something Gurgi mumbles…
43. Chicken Little (2005)
I wish the sky was falling after I walked away from this—I may have actually cried at how bad it was. I don’t think the filmmakers were even trying 50%. While the movie boasts a big voice cast, there really was no need. The film was a complete
Character: Whoever Don Knotts plays
Line: “Who are we talking about?”
Song: I guess the cast sings “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” at some point
TIER IV – The Forgivable: Not bad movies, but never left a good impression
42. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
A movie that took a daring stab at a story of considerable depth, the Robinsons eventually fell flat on their freshly rendered faces. While it opens up strong, the plot
begins to dissipate into random character encounters that fail to move
the story forward. Even with its flaws, Meet the Robinsons attempts
to touch that old-Disney-spark-and-feel, placing it a step above the
Character: The girl with the caffeine patches
Line: I honestly don’t remember a line from this movie except for
the T-Rex language
41. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
A very un-Disney-like Disney animation—yet somehow not in a bad way. While it’s not one I would personally recommend, I would not stop someone from seeing it. A family popcorn movie one can enjoy once in a blue alien.
Character: The Grand Councilwoman
Line: “Ohana means family.”
40. Bolt (2008)
A decent doggie adventure that was mostly funny due
to a cat named Mittens and a hamster named Rhino. Made me think of
the direct-to-video 101 Dalmatians sequel, Patch’s London Adventure.
Line: “Get outta here you stupid cat!”
39. Bambi (1941)
Every Disney-raised kid has sat through this classic and watched in horror as Bambi’s mother dies. I was never attached to Bambi as a kid, but I do steal a line from it constantly: “They’re twitterpated!”
Character: Prince of the Forrest
Line: “They’re twitterpated!”
Song: “Little April Showers”
38. Home on the Range (2004)
By this point in Disney Animated Features’ releases, we realized the studio was suffering. The movie isn’t bad, but it isn’t nearly as funny or clever as it would like you
to believe. It’s decent, mind you, but not much more than that.
Character: The Willie Brothers
Line: “Maybe they just didn’t like your singing.”
37. Treasure Planet (2002)
This one needs to be remembered for more than a commercial flop, I feel. There is a great deal of background controversy over this movie, but I honestly don’t see why. The film is an adaptation of a true classic, and is well done, I personally
think. Vocals are good, animation is sound, and I love Tony Jay’s
narration. If you haven’t already, please give this one a shot.
Character: Delbert Doppler
Line: “Now you listen to me, James Hawkins. You got the makings of
greatness in you, but you got to take the helm and chart your own
course. Stick to it, no matter the squalls! And when the time comes
you get the chance to really test the cut of your sails, and show what
you’re made of… well, I hope I’m there, catching some of the light
coming off you that day.”
36. Pinocchio (1940)
To this day I despise the Pleasure Island sequence, but I won’t deny this movie as a classic. “When You Wish Upon A Star” has become a Disney calling card, and we all undeniably get goosebumps listening to Jiminy Cricket sing to a starry night sky.
Character: Jiminy Cricket
Line: “If we play our cards right, we’d be on easy street. Or my
name isn’t Honest John.”
Song: “When You Wish Upon A Star”
TIER III – Good: These movies have their issues, but are easily rewatchable
35. Big Hero 6 (2014)
An endearing comic-book story that sinks deep
under your skin, I was marveled by the subtle nuances of the animation
and character development more so than the overall plot. I wasn’t big
on the San Fransokyo mash up or the underdeveloped villain, but other
than that, I give the movie a thumbs up. Another very un-Disney-like
Disney animation that works surprisingly well.
Line: “School mascot by day, but by night—also school mascot.”
34. The Fox and the Hound (1981)
A simple feel-good story that resonates with all ages. An innocent tale that any child would enjoy. Go Team Bear!
Line: “Hey-hey-hey, just look at this bushy tail! B-b-b-beautiful!”
Song: “Lack of Education”
33. Lady & The Tramp (1955)
Another true classic that we all love and my family was forced to rewatch time and time again. One of Disney’s first “real love stories”, Lady & The Tramp removes most of
the kiddie humor and focuses on telling a familiar tale with emotion and compassion.
Line: “I ain’t deaf, sonny.”
Song: “He’s a Tramp”
32. Cinderella (1950)
Bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful! It had been thirteen years since Disney had made a fairy tale, and they needed another princess! I think people excuse or forget how iconic this
movie (or at least the tale) is nowadays. However, I personally think the 2015 live-action remake was phenomenal, and succeeded in surpassing the original by a great deal. Still, I would introduce my kids to this one.
Line: Something the king says?
31. The Aristocats (1970)
I don’t have a lot of justification for placing this one above some of these staple classics, other than the fact that I always got a big chuckle out of it—and still do! Love
Edgar, the Gabble Twins, Thomas O’Malley, Disney’s version of France, and even the scat music.
Line: “You’re not a lady. You’re nothing but a sister.”
Song: “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat”
30. The Little Mermaid (1989)
I’m expecting to get a lot of whiplash for putting Mermaid so low on the list, but…aside from the music, Sebastian, Scuttle, Chef Louis, and dinglehoppers—I never cared for
it. Was Ursula too scary? Was Ariel’s hair too red? Did Triton’s angry spells remind me of my dad losing his temper? Was I afraid I was going to lose my voice to a sea witch? Did the reverend really have a boner? Who knows. If you take away the soundtrack, there
isn’t much left.
Line: “It’s a dinglehopper!”
Song: “Under the Sea”
29. The Rescuers (1977)
Such a sweet and charming film. Love Bernard and Bianca, but I secretly rooted for Madame Medusa.
Character: Madame Medusa
Line: “You are too soft.” or “You force them too like you, you idiot!”
28. Wreck-It-Wralph (2012)
A comparable film with an unexpectedly big heart. I’m not a gamer, but this was clearly a love-letter to classic arcades. It packed so much stuff into an hour and a half of
great animation, that I have to give it a thumbs up. Good voice cast,
Line: “Ma’am, I just gotta tell ya…you are one dynamite gal.”
27. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Another underrated and sometimes misunderstood gem, Atlantis is a great blend of old and new. Much like Tarzan and the Emperor’s New Groove, Disney tried for a time
to move away from the traditional song-driven routine and venture into
unmapped wilderness. Atlantis is something for the imagination, blending Jules Verne wonder with Disney adventure. While the movie runs on countless cliches, I was caught off guard by the non-stop tongue-and-cheek wit and humor. I’d recommend this to pretty much anyone.
Character: Preston B. Whitmore
Line: “Look, I made a bridge, and it only took me like, what, ten seconds.”
26. Frozen (2013)
This movie is already notorious for its hype and three little words that rhyme with “Let it Snow”, but I still can’t help and admit that I got a good tickle out of the blockbuster.
Beautiful Scandinavian art, talented voice cast, and some relatively
fresh songs Disney Animation has been lacking for a few years.
Line: “Big summer blowout!”
Song: (I’ll concede) “Let it Go”
25. Peter Pan (1953)
Outside the song “What Made the Red Man Red”, I have no problems with the film. I have always enjoyed the story of Pan, and this one has a great Hook, a hilariously animated Crocodile, and the happy ending.
Line: “Here we go! Off to Neverland!”
Song: “Following the Leader”
24. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
C’mon…do I have to explain why this is a classic? Just sing it with me: “Heigh-Ho,
Heigh-Ho, It’s off to work we go…”
Line: “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
23. The Princess & the Frog (2009)
My expectations were pretty low going into this, but I came out quite impressed. I’m disappointed that Disney has not been making traditional hand-drawn animated
features of late, and this one made me constantly think of the classics. Written and directed by Disney Animation pioneers, the movie told a recognizable story in a new setting with a different sort of Disney princess. I liked the message it was trying to tell, I
enjoyed the fresh villain, and I loved Randy Newman’s music.
Line: “O-o-o, tell her Big Daddy! Tell her!” or “Travis, when a
woman says later, what she really means is: not ever” or “I was
starting to believe that wishing on stars was for babies and…crazy
Song: “Almost There”
22. Tangled (2010)
Confession: when I went to the theater for this one, and the title card popped up that read “Walt Disney 50th Animated Feature Film”, I knew I was going to like Tangled. I was very skeptical about it at first, but after seeing it a few times, I dare to call it a new Disney classic. While it does not match with giants like The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, it successfully brought back an old-school Disney quality and heart that had severely lacking
for over the last decade. Good fairy tale story, gorgeous animation, some pretty good songs (a bit underwhelming for Alan Menken, though), and a musically-inclined voice cast. Recommend to everyone!
Line: “Your dream stinks. I was talking to her.”
Song: “Mother Knows Best”
TIER II – The Silver Stars: Strong movies with quibbling flaws
21. Brother Bear (2003)
It’s not a narrative you haven’t heard somewhere else before, but it’s a universal story with a message that anyone can apply to their life. Aided with a beautiful blend of
native inspired art, music, and humor, you got yourself a dark horse
Character: Rutt and Tuke
Line: “That mountain came out of nowhere!”
Song: “On My Way”
20. Oliver & Company (1988)
I’m disappointed by how many people have forgotten about this movie. A fresh adaptation of Oliver Twist, the movie has an entertaining story, good voice cast, and fun, upbeat songs.
Line: “Oooohh, aren’t you a clever kitty” or “Everything from the
doorknobs down is mine!” or “I broke a nail” or “If this is torture,
chain me to the wall”
Song: “Perfect Isn’t Easy”
19. One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Love it. Was the closest thing to action and suspense that I was allowed watch when I was a little kid. However, we can all agree that the movie would be nothing
Line: “Fifteen spotted puddles stolen, oh balderdash.”
Song: “Cruella De Vil”
18. Fantasia (1940)
If I had to compile a list of movies that everyone had to see before they died, this would be included somewhere down the checklist. The music and images stay with you forever,
whether it be the comic hippo ballet, the frightening night on bald mountain, or the iconic Mickey in the sorcerer’s apprentice—you remember. A groundbreaking film that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
17. Pocahontas (1995)
My favorite Disney princess. There’s a peculiar magic to Pocahontas that is absent from the other animated films of the golden age. I like the slightly alternate narrative the
film offers, regardless of historical accuracy and all that bologna. Good voice cast, stunning colors and visuals, new musical score and songs—and extra points for recreating my own grandma’s exact personality into a wise old tree.
Character: Grandmother Willow
Line: “My bark is worse than my bite.”
Song: “Colors of the Wind”
16. Hercules (1997)
A daring step for Disney, Hercules transports us back in time and brings Greek mythology to life in a brand new adventure, hosted by fantastic characters (including one of the best female characters of all animation-time), powerful images, and music
you can’t help but sing along to—who would’ve thought to put a gospel choir as the film’s narrators? Also, I absolutely adore James Woods as Hades.
Line: “We dance, we kiss, we shmooze, we carry on, we go home
happy, what do you say, c’mon?”
Song: “I Won’t Say I’m In Love”
15. Robin Hood (1973)
Thinking about it makes me want to whistle Alan-a-Dale’s catchy tune. While it’s clearly evident that the movie was made on a tighter budget, this did not make the filmmakers neglect the story, its characters, and Sherwood Forrest/Nottingham adventures! I’ll always cherish Robin Hood as one of my childhood favorites.
Character: Prince John
Line: “The safety’s on ol’ Betsy.”
Song: “Oo De Lally”
14. Moana (2016)
People said Frozen was Disney Animation’s return to form. I disagree. I think Moana proved itself to be a bigger, greater, more powerful movie than Frozen times two—maybe Disney Animation’s strongest entry of the 21st Century. There was an energy
to it, an unexplainable love—it felt like the perfect blend of new and classic. The visuals were breathtaking, the songs were catchy, and the story wasn’t an ordinary rehash.
Line: “I’m his mother…I don’t have to tell him anything.”
Song: “You’re Welcome”
13. Zootopia (2016)
Narrowly beating out the previous movie for this slot (and they’ll probably flip-flop in my head forever), I was incredibly impressed with Zootopia. Without making anything
political, the filmmakers were able to address countless issues we face today in our society and how we should confront them. It offered an uplifting message, aided by very human-like animal characters, one of the strongest Disney scripts in years, incredible voice casting, and eye-widening animated visuals. The best “buddy-cop” movie in years.
Character: Mr. Big
Line: “They offered me something I couldn’t refuse: money!”
12. Tarzan (1999)
A brisk pace, energetically animated, lively musical with powerful songs by Phil Collins; the more I watch it, the more I think Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Tarzan of the Apes for Disney Animation. A real adventure story that never drags, which everyone will fall in love with.
Song: “Strangers Like Me”
11. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
There is an unfair amount of selections on this list that I give out visual and artistic acclaim, because when it comes down to it, the ultimate “visual” Disney movie that has stuck with me for years is Sleeping Beauty. The colors ebbed their way into
my imagination as a boy, I suppose. Adding to my main praise, the movie is a fairy tale that has matured very well over the years (aided most recently by the live-action regaling, “Maleficent”). While formulaic as it is, out of all the Disney fairy tales, if I had to choose only one, I’d probably take Sleeping Beauty.
Line: “Now, father, you’re living in the past. This is the 14th century!”
Song: “Once Upon a Dream”
TIER I – Top Ten: What Disney Animation should be all about
10. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
The 18th Disney classic is nothing short of brilliant. Think of it as the first chapter of The Once and Future King made for kids, by adding wacky characters, talking
animals, and colorful backdrops. Sword in the Stone is a gem to treasure forever.
Line: “I’m the magnificent, marvelous, mad-mad Madam Mim!”
Song: “Higitus Figitus”
9. The Jungle Book (1967)
The last animated feature personally overseen by Walt Disney himself, I think The Jungle Book can be covered in two words: deliciously delightful! Such a fun adventure
Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera lead us on. With some of the best vocal talent ever cast in an animated movie, I think The Jungle Book will stand the test of time. If you aren’t singing The Bare Necessities in your head by now, you’re wrong.
Line: “What? A female leading my herd? Utterly preposterous!”
Song: “The Bare Necessities”
8. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Another listing I’m probably going to get a lot of flack on. This movie happens to make me laugh so hard, every time I watch it I cry in gratitude. Yzma and Kronk are
one of the greatest pairings ever, with their voice casting being PERFECT. The story is nothing to write home about, but it’s handled well, and was a risky step for Disney. Once you hear about the behind-the-scenes making of the film, it’s a miracle that it made its
way to theaters.
Line: There are way too many to choose from, so, nah verily…
7. Mulan (1998)
Where to begin? Mulan has a depth you’re not ready for, dealing with themes like identity, honor, duty, and heroism. It breaks new ground as a Disney flick, while still offering breathtaking animation and sprightly characters to the big screen. A movie that
stays with you long past the end credits.
Character: Fa Mulan
Line: “The greatest gift of honor is having you for a daughter”
Song: “I’ll Make A Man Out of You”
6. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
Most folks won’t understand why this movie is in my top ten—maybe they don’t even remember seeing it. It’s a true adventure story set in the land down under, and proceeded
to not just take a single step up from the first Rescuers’ movie, but leap up the entire freakin’ staircase. A strong contender I wish audiences would reconsider to be one of Disney’s greatest.
Line: “Albatross Airlines: a fair fare from here to there!”
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Here’s a thinker. The movie tackles an incredibly sad and depressing story, one you would never expect to see in animated-musical form. Yet somehow, Disney managed
to create a 90-minute emotional roller-coaster. It dominated my insides, and I love it more every day. With the appropriate dose of sincerity, seriousness, humor, peril, and depth, Hunchback will leave its mark as a risky masterpiece in Walt Disney’s animation cannon.
Character: Judge Claude Frollo
Line: “Achilles, heel”
Song: “The Bells of Notre Dame”
4. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Another entry that will confuse the readership, you may or may have not watched this at some point in your childhood, and either liked it or loved it. I find myself in the
small category of avid fanboyship for this one. An absolutely, unbelievably satisfying film with a clever twist on Sherlock Holmes, The Great Mouse Detective is a dark horse to many, but I would not turn down watching this for a second. Wonderful story,
great-great-great musical score, and I worship Vincent Price as Ratigan! My brother and I will preach how criminally overlooked this movie is till the day we die.
Character: Professor Ratigan
Line: “Well, you see it was like this. I was in the toy store
getting uniforms when I heard a “aroo aroo”, “You’re not coming
Song: “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind”
3. Aladdin (1992)
Such an awesome movie that I can’t help but get excited for to this day. Aladdin promises to have all the things you’d like in a Disney cartoon, but speeds past them and gives you one of the greatest animated motion pictures of all time. So much energy
and so much fun, you’ll be singing “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” for years. Also, the best Genie of all time: Robin Williams. The movie wouldn’t be half as good if it wasn’t for his genius. I probably have watched this movie no less then thirty times.
Line: (How on earth can I pick only one??) The opening monologue
Song: “Friend Like Me”
2. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The truest form of Gothic romanticism with a genuine love story at its core, Disney was able to craft a masterpiece of out a so-so fairy tale. The musical score is
remarkable and truly encompasses a “…tale as old as time”. I struggled putting this behind The Lion King. Also: the prologue is one of the most glorious and haunting and foreboding sequences ever made in cinema, sending tingly feelings down my spine every single gosh darn time. Another thing: after watching the 2017 remake a few days ago, my love for this movie has solidified even more.
Line: The Prologue, to be honest, but for the sake of propriety:
“It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and
Song: “Be Our Guest”
1. The Lion King (1994)
This monumental film set an all-time high bar that no Disney film has been able to grasp since. While I hate falling into everyone else’s line of thinking, The Lion King is undeniably brilliant. A thematic anchor, a spectacular voice cast, iconic music; it’s set itself as the equivalent of The Godfather or Citizen Kane for animation. While it owes everything to Hamlet—does it really matter?
Line: “I’m surrounded by idiots.”
Song: “Hakuna Matata”