In January, 2010 I went to a convention at one of the Disney World Resorts. Disney makes you pay through the nose to get into the parks, but the transportation is all free. So whenever I had free time, I took a ride on a bus, boat or train and had a lot of fun at no cost to me.
I kept seeing pictures and statues of characters from the Disney cartoons, and it occurred to me that I recognized most of them but had watched very few of the films. I decided to fill in this large gap in my cultural knowledge. I found a list of the official “Disney full-length animated films,” sometimes called the “Disney Animation Canon,” and set out to watch all the films I hadn’t seen and keep up with new ones as they come out.
I’ve rated them 1-5 based entirely on how much enjoyment I got from watching them. (I’ve made no attempt to rank them within the various ratings.)
Alice in Wonderland (1951) — A train wreck of a movie.
The Black Cauldron (1985) — Not only was it quite dark and occult for a kids’ movie (it almost got an R rating), but it wasn’t very interesting.
Fantasia 2000 (1999) — Donald Duck gathering animals for Noah’s ark with a classical music soundtrack? Who’s the target audience for this stuff?
Dinosaur (2000) — Computer animation on photographed backgrounds didn’t appeal to me. And I’m not into dinosaurs. And I disagree with the movie’s take on the meaning of life — to somehow be remembered in some little way.
Home on the Range (2004) — The plot was dull, the songs were bland, the humor was silly and the animation was awful.
Zootopia (2016)—Disguised as an adventure comedy, this was in fact a nearly two-hour exploration of liberal-think. It was propaganda for diversity, tolerance, and blaming one’s own problems on the prejudice of another.
Fantasia (1940) — Yawn
Saludos Amigos (1942) — Part animated shorts, part live-action travelogue of South America. All very strange. It’s hard to imagine anyone finding this very entertaining.
The Three Caballeros (1944) — Shorts about a penguin who likes warm weather and a flying donkey and a long bit in which Donald Duck, a brazilian parrot and a Mexican rooster fly around on a magic carpet to see the dances of different cultures, mostly in Mexico. These segments mixed animation with live action, including one bit where Donald chased women in bathing suits around a beach. Weird.
Make Mine Music (1946) — Animation set to popular music of the time. Great if you’re having trouble sleeping. Not good if you want to stay awake.
Fun and Fancy Free (1947) — Another anthology of animated shorts set to music, this time classical. I found it next to impossible to stay awake.
Peter Pan (1953) I’ve always found the character of Peter a little creepy. The crocodile that swallowed the alarm clock gave me a few chuckles, but otherwise … not much.
The Sword in the Stone (1963) — Dull, with very little humor.
Hercules (1997) — I didn’t care for the story or the animation. There was one place where I chuckled slightly, but that was it for the humor. The title song, which kept saying “it’s the gospel truth” was offensive.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) — It never gave me a reason to care.
Brother Bear (2003) — Reeking with new age philosophy. The two moose played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, as the McKenzie Brothers, were a little funny. The music was lame. Overall, it was a pretty sad excuse for a movie.
The Princess and the Frog (2009) — The animation and artwork were, in my opinion, inconsistent — great at times and flat at others. The songs were so-so — none of them really stuck out. The plot was amusing, although the main characters were frogs for much longer than they were humans and that got a bit old. The whole voodoo thing, which was played up considerably, was just wrong, especially for a kids’ movie.
Big Hero 6 (2014) — This one seemed to rely more on special effects than on character development, and since it was a cartoon, the special effects weren’t all that special. The whole Japanese cartoon vibe and technological gadget focus didn’t grab me. And I don’t think I so much as chuckled once during the whole movie.
Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) — In a desperate attempt to be trendy, Disney has created a movie that will feel really dated in about two years.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) — I could admire the art, and some of the cartooning was cute. The story moved pretty slowly, and I can’t say I found it terribly exciting.
Dumbo (1941) — Started slowly, but once Timothy Mouse came on the scene, things picked up. The pink elephant song was a trip.
Bambi (1942) — Not really to my taste, but there’s no denying that the animation is amazing and the story is a classic.
Melody Time (1948) — Another anthology with popular music. Disney during the 40s was a great cure for insomnia.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) — Disney’s versions of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows. Pretty dull.
Cinderella (1950) — Surprisingly satisfying to see the stepmother and stepsisters get what they had coming to them.
Lady and the Tramp (1955) — Cute. Not thrilling, but cute. We saw this in the theater when we were dating.
Sleeping Beauty (1959) — The story didn’t do a lot for me, but I kinda liked the song “Once Upon a Dream.” And the animation — simple cartoons on a background of more classical, elaborate paintings — was impressive.
The Jungle Book (1967) — I didn’t care much for any of the characters, but the songs were OK.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) — I liked the books, and I expected to like the movie in an “awww, cute” sort of way, but it was just dull. I’m not sure 53 is the best age to see this for the first time.
The Rescuers (1977) — Cute in a dull way or dull in a cute way. Not sure which. It bugged me for half the movie until I figured out that the guy who voices the albatross was Fibber McGee from the old radio show.
The Fox and the Hound (1981) — It left very little impression on me.
The Great Mouse Detective (1986) — The animation wasn’t bad, but the story didn’t move me much. There was very little humor (at least not of the funny kind).
The Little Mermaid (1989) — I expected to hate it, but it wasn’t awful.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) — Something that really bugs me about this movie. It says early in the story that the Beast has to find someone to love him before he turns 21. Later, one of the pieces of furniture reveals that the curse has been in place for 10 years. That means, if fairy tale math is the same as real math, that the beautiful enchantress cursed the handsome prince for his rudeness … when he was only 11. That seems a bit harsh.
The Lion King (1994) — I didn’t not like it, but it didn’t thrill me much either. I guess it takes more than flatulant warthogs to make a movie worth watching.
Pocahontas (1995) — Indian good. White man bad. Included a lot of mysticism.
Mulan (1998) — The worship of the ghosts of the dead ancestors was a bit much, but overall I enjoyed the film more than I expected to.
Tarzan (1999) — Not awful, but the whole man with a gorilla mother thing was a bit too weird.
Meet the Robinsons (2007) — Rather frenetic.
Winnie the Pooh (2011) — I liked the animation, especially the way the characters kept interacting with the words from the story book. But I’m not the primary target audience, and I found it a bit slow.
Wreck-It Ralph (2012) — I’m going to have to watch this one again because I wasn’t paying much attention the first time.
Frozen (2013) — The animation was amazing. The movie started very slowly for me, but got more interesting as it went along — and then was almost immediately forgotten.
Moana (2016) — Disney is better when it just relaxes and has fun. The paganism in this one is hard to like and enough already about the right of girls to seek their own destinies. Hasn’t that been the point of the last seven Disney movies? The characters were fine—not my favorite. The animation, as always, was incredible.
Pinocchio (1940) — The animation was amazing. There was more violence and other borderline stuff than I expected in a Disney cartoon.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) — To my surprise, I found myself enjoying this one. The barking chain and the other dogs that help find the puppies were cool.
The Aristocats (1970) — Lady and the Tramp with cats. But I kinda liked it, maybe because I had such low expectations.
Robin Hood (1973) — This movie has been totally off my radar screen. I don’t remember anything about it from when it came out when I was 15. It’s decidedly aged, with little of the adult-level humor that shows up in more recent cartoons. But it was a pleasant tale that held my attention in a mild sort of way.
Oliver and Company (1988) — It was lively and kept my interest for the most part. I can’t ask a lot more from a cartoon than that.
The Rescuers Down Under (1990) — Pretty exciting throughout.
Aladdin (1992) — Think what you will of Robin Williams (you know who you are) — the songs were great and the dialogue was clever.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) — I expected to hate this one. It had a lot of dark and scarey parts for a kids’ movie, but it kept my attention.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) — I got some chuckles out of it.
Lilo & Stitch (2002) — I saw it in the theater with my daughter when it first came out. I didn’t remember liking it then, but this time, I thought it was pretty good.
Treasure Planet (2002) — One of the least popular of the Disney cartoons, but I kinda liked it when I saw it in the theater with my daughter when it first came out, and I kinda liked it this time too.
Chicken Little (2005) — The pig character was annoying, but otherwise it was cute.
Bolt (2008) — Cute story. I liked the hamster best.
Tangled (2010) — Amazing animation and good characters with enough humor to keep me chuckling throughout. I gave it a “5” because of the “I’ve Got a Dream” song and because I thought I needed to choose a “best movie.”