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mygif

Mulan: Ick. Never liked it. I put Beauty and the Beast first, even if the story does have some uncomfortable overtones.

I absolutely ADORE The Emperor’s New Groove. It’s like, for a few months, the Disney animators channeled the spirit of Chuck Jones. Great, GREAT film, in my opinion.

Hercules: I agree that it’s too frenetic, but I like the way it’s a mashup of genres, basically a boxing flick with a gospel score.

Hunchback: Wow. I think this one is woefully underrated; the music is terrific and the songs are interesting and complex in a lot of ways. I always thought this one would translate very well to a Broadway stage.

Lion King: I’ve never understood the love for this movie, ever. It’s good, yeah, but…it’s not subtle, the music isn’t that great, and I find it hard, as always, to get past my innate dislike of Matthew Broderick.

I’ll take Atlantis over Treasure Planet any day. I find TP a mess.

Fantasia 2000: Yes, the musical selections are pretty safe (aside from the Shostakovich). But I find the animation a lot more delightful than you do, apparently; the “flying whales” sequence is pretty nifty, and the Gershwin segment, done in the style of Al Hirschfeld, fills me with all manner of happy.

Pocahontas? Bleeccchhh.

Tarzan: I love this movie, although on a personal experience note, this should NOT be the first movie that two young and not-quite-sure-what-to-do-with-themselves parents of a newborn should go see the first time they leave their baby in the care of someone else (even if it IS the grandparents). My wife and I did this. Our daughter was all of three weeks old, and we went out by ourselves for the first time. To see Tarzan. Where, in the first five minutes, a baby’s parents are killed and a set of parents’s baby is killed. Oy!

(Little Mermaid: I have personal history here, too. In college, on two different occasions about a year apart, I saw Little Mermaid with a girl I was dating. Both times I was dumped within days of seeing the movie. So the hell with Little Mermaid.)

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danielrandkai said on September 20th, 2013 at 10:08 am

Hi there chris, longtime/part time! Looking forward to reading all the comments, but I had to get my bit out first.

Mulan is disqualified from being in the running for one reason and one reason alone: Eddie Murphy’s abominable Mu-Shu. Just so so bad. Fuck that character.

Plus it made Dreamworks think that Donkey was a good idea, so no.

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billionsofthem said on September 20th, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I don’t like beauty and the beast because the actual villain, ie that jackass fairy who curses the fucking house staff because the prince is a jerk, never gets dealt with.

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The big question is how well the Aladdin TV show aged.

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DensityDuck said on September 21st, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Mulan first because girl? Seriously? The Nineties called, they want their pro-fem schtick back. (Although given that the majority of this list is from the Nineties, I guess that’s appropriate.)

*****

When I watched “Atlantis”, I kept wondering whether the projectionist had been playing silly buggers and put the Disney logo on a Dreamworks film.

*****

“Aladdin” still works, I think, because even though Williams’s references are dated, they come fast enough–and the animation does enough work–that they still have a zany energy. The Rodney Dangerfield and Jack Nicholson bits work as just “genie pulls a goofy face” even if you have no idea that the face is supposed to be an actual person.

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MGK, you missed one of the things that makes “Lilo and Stitch” work so well — Chris Sanders. It’s his artwork (or other people copying his artwork as best they can), his direction, and almost entirely his vision. Sanders isn’t perfect, but when he’s good he’s good, and Lilo & Stitch is one man’s vision in a way that few other Disney movies ever have been since Walt left the building. *Nothing* looks like Chris Sanders artwork; it’s fluid and curvy and the human figures all tend to be strangely bottom-heavy, like they’re from a planet where gravity is a little higher. (Look at Lilo’s sister. Now look at the lower half of her body. She’s attractive enough, but no other Disney female looks remotely like that.)

Several things worth noting about this movie. (1) There are only a few musical numbers, and they’re all set to pre-existing songs — several of them, to Elvis tunes. I don’t think Disney ever tried that again, which is a shame, because it worked really well here. (2) Watercolor backgrounds! This helped give the movie a “cartoony” feel that’s very distinct from the rest of the Renaissance era films. (3) Several absolutely perfect set-pieces… most notably the first ten minutes of the movie, from the “trial” scene to Stitch’s arrival on Hawaii. Stitch’s escape is absolutely note-perfect, from his Hannibal Lecter-like lockdown to the scrabbling sound in the air ducts to “…he took the red one”.

If you lack the Lilo & Stitch receptor, then you do. But here’s why I think this should be in the top three: it’s one of the very few Disney movies that really, truly does fulfill Walt’s old promise: it’s a movie you can watch with your kids. It works for three year olds, for ten year olds, and for forty year olds. That’s actually really hard, and deserves respect.

Doug M.

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MGK, I gotta point out, the gender stuff in Beauty and the Beast is actually really problematic. The Beast has *anger issues*. He never actually threatens Belle directly — this is a Disney movie — but he chases her out of his castle into the snow, and he smashes stuff in a tantrum, and he’s generally portrayed as a guy on the edge, just keeping it together. But… she can change him! If she’ll just go back! With the power of love!

There’s actually a whole corpus of criticism on this; google a bit and it will pop right up. Apparently there are people who find this movie seriously triggery, and while “some people find this triggery” is not a powerful criticism in and of itself, in this case I totally see their point.

Doug M.

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Oddly, if you extend the list past 2004 you don’t get a huge dropoff in quality. The next ones would be:

Chicken Little (meh)
Meet The Robinsons (very good)
Bolt (ambitious failure, Disney’s first and so far only attempt to do metafiction)
The Princess and the Frog (oh, dear)
Tangled (problematic in several ways, but good fun)
Winnie the Pooh (meh)
Wreck-it Ralph (hot mess / curate’s egg)

There’s one solid midlister in there and two others that are worth seeing. There is a drop in quality from the Renaissance, but it’s not actually all that big a difference.

Doug M.

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[…] Christopher Bird at MightyGodKing ranks the Disney Renaissance films, and puts Mulan in a context I’ve never thought of before. […]

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I dunno, I liked the Lion King too MGK, but I really have to disagree with your sentiments on Kimba the White Lion. The truth is, the film did start out as an Adaptation of Kimba the White Lion’s story, but somewhere along the line they decided they didn’t want to pay Osamu Tezuka’s family any royalties, so they changed the character’s name to Simba and moved on. True, a lot of Tezuka’s works were pretty corny and hamfisted, but so were a lot of Jack Kirby’s, and that didn’t negate Marvel screwing him over either. The whole situation was an awful clusterfuck made worse by the fact That Tezuka was a huge Disney fan when he was still alive.

So yes, The Lion King was a good film, but defending it by diminishing the Kimba controversy is not the right way to defend your point.

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My 9 year old daughter and I agree (and have agreed since she was about 4 years old), that the Lion King has to be the most over-rated Disney Movie of all time. There must have been something about the zeitgeist of the generation growing up when that movie came out in the early-to-mid-90’s (a time when I was in college). It has the most underwhelming hero (he just kind of quits being a bum, shows back up and, WHAMMO, everything is hunky-dory again), and a pretty bad message at its heart (the Lions are the rightfull rulers and to even question that pecking order leads to disastrous results). But it had the most dazzling animation anyone had seen at the time and hit the nineties faux-eco-groove where kids grew up with pro-environment messages encoded in everything from their cartoons to their breakfast cereal (though with very little tangible advice on how to be good stewards or minimize their impact on said environment). It’s one of those pop-culture phoenomena where you’re either in the zeitgeist (and loving it), or on the outside looking in and scratching your head over it.

And as far as the non-Disney movies from this time period – what, no love for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron?

Oh, and, yes, the Iron Giant completely de-pants all of the competition. That is all.

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Cats Don’t Dance never gets any love. 🙁

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Who let you on the computer?

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Lion King is overrated. It’s not bad. It’s A FILM. I don’t care about it.
Why do people rip on the Hunchback songs. They’re fantastic! I enjoy them so much more then stuff from Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

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I think you have to have a kid to really get why people adore ‘Lilo and Stitch’ so damn much. Because Lilo, since she’s free of having to be a “normal” kid, actually behaves like a normal kid. Her opening monologue where she rambles about feeding peanut butter sandwiches to the fish is supposed to suggest that she’s “crazy” or “damaged” and unable to interact well with people outside her family…but it’s the most authentic piece of kid dialogue ever to appear in a motion picture. 🙂 Watching ‘Lilo and Stitch’, I see my own daughter at that age, and I think that’s what makes it so special for me.

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