So what you’ve all been waiting for! My ranking of the Disney Canon!
I will add in Big Hero 6 when I finish that review but here are my current rankings. I’ll go least to best
54. Dinosaur– slow, predictable, looks ugly, CGI is awful, attempt to be thoughtful ends up stupid, the writing was maddeningly bad
53. Chicken Little– mean spirited, frenetic, unfunny, none of the episodes connect, animation underwhelming. Feels like they didn’t even try
52. Brother Bear– every choice was wrong. Badly animated characters, strange voicework, predictable and unbelievable story, unlikable characters, underwhelming music, strange singing choices. The humor never works. Huge disappointment.
51. Home on the Range– Trots out tired ‘save the farm’ storyline, terrible puns, strange voice choices, underwhelming songs, jokes and illusions to westerns don’t work, some of the animation is ok and the yodel song was well done. Otherwise skip.
50. Three Cabelleros– 2 ok shorts surrounded by lots of Donald shouting and chasing women around Rio. Watch Saludos Amigos instead.
49. The Rescuers- some nice animation but shrill, mean spirited villain overwhelms the picture. Not enough hope makes film feel depressing and cold. Watch sequel instead
48. The Aristocats– lazy mismash of 101 Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp but with cats. Duchess feels apathetic and bored. No sense of tension in the plot and chemistry between her and Thomas nonexistent. Designs and backdrops underwhelming and strange voice work. Lame villain who’s actions don’t really make sense. Some alarmingly bad animation where the mouths don’t quite match up with the vocals. Ok songs.
47. Fun and Fancy Free– Bongo is well animated but strange message and oddly paced, Say it with a Slap is one of worst Disney songs, Mickey and Beanstalk is Ok but feels kind of lazy and slow. I like crazy Donald. In between live action segments feel strange and unnecessary.
46. Pocahontas– Savages is the films saving grace. A wonderful number but Pocahontas is kind of an unlikable character. She doesn’t listen and has no chemistry with John Smith. The animation is boxy and too geometric and the villain with all his GOLD is so boring. Plus, it’s a real story, important to a people, which makes it more insulting.
45. Hunchback of Notre Dame– Some good elements but the attempt to combine an adult story with juvenile elements creates a tonal mess. Very frustrating. A man tries to dump a baby down a well after killing his mother, he sings a song about wanting to rape and kill another woman and he lights a house on fire containing a family inside. And we have singing gargoyles! What was Disney thinking…
44. Fantasia 2000– Takes the original concept of concert films and turns it into a cheap celebrity clip show. I hate the CGI. The music choices are strange. Whole thing feels second rate except for Rhapsody and final number
43. Sword in the Stone– The film everyone else likes but I don’t. Arthur does nothing to prove he should be able to pull the sword in the stone. None of his ‘lessons’ actually prepare him to be king. On top of that it looks blue and gray and ugly throughout. Madame Mim isn’t introduced till end and it’s Merlin not Arthur that takes her on. I don’t get why it’s so popular. Sherman Brothers songs are ok and duel is fun but again doesn’t have anything to do with the story and Arthur.
42. Bolt– Forgettable but enjoyable film. Decent vocal performance, fun story but nothing to spectacular.
41 Oliver and Company- A mess of storytelling, terrible villain, but some of the visuals of New York are nice, cool subway scene at the end and 2 dynamite songs.
40. Make Mine Music– one of the strangest entertainment experiences of my life. Kind of ‘so bad it’s good’. Each of the segments in this package films feels so strange especially the story of the Whale Who Sings Opera, who they kill off and send to whale heaven for no reason except to teach kids that miracles don’t exist and people hate goodness and light (strange message). It’s so odd but oddly entertaining.
39. The Black Cauldron- A lot of problems but I liked the villain and Gurghi’s sacrifice. All in all I enjoyed watching it, even with issues. It looks beautiful and score is fantastic. Terrible voicework throughout, and kind of unlikable characters with weak motivation but enough to keep me mildly interested.
38. Saludos Amigos– Disney’s goodwill mission to South America spawned this movie and it is better than Three Cabelleros. First of all, it is shorter (45 min). It has more segments and they are all pretty good. Live action is tough to sit through but again it is short. Generic but entertaining.
37. Meet the Robinsons– Nutty time travel story with a convoluted but entertaining plot. Great and surprising villain. A little cluttered but I enjoyed it. If you have a kid who likes things that are a little bit out there I bet they will love this movie.
36. Treasure Planet- Beautiful steampunk look, but feels slow and story is the same old story from grade school we’ve seen a million times. Unpredictable looks but predictable story. Plus, some of the world doesn’t make sense so it is hard to feel suspense or tension.
35. Wreck-It Ralph– Fun premise of bad guy in video games who gets tired of being bad is fun but they spend too much time in Sugar Rush and some of the voice performances are annoying. Could have been much better but still enjoyed it. A good villain.
34. Fox and the Hound– A sentimental soapy flick if there ever was one but it embraces that soap so I enjoyed it. Bear scene very good but intense for small kids. Friendship and forgiveness nice messages. Music and female characters super bland
33. Princess and the Frog- Looks beautiful and a wonderful lead character, Tiana, who works hard, sets goals and has a unique dream for a princess. Dwells too much on occult, cluttered, shouty and underwhelming lead man and songs. Villain good but not my cup of tea
32. Peter Pan- Probably my biggest disappointment in rewatching the Canon. It’s not bad but slower than I remember it mixed with slapstick that is pretty good. The songs are ok except for Redman and You’re Mother is a snoozefest. People are very mean to Wendy throughout especially the other female characters. Still, it’s charming in it’s own way.
31. Bambi- Beautifully drawn and I love how the score is the sound effects creating rain and fire so effectively. Great voice work but the story is meandering and is basically a year in the life of a baby deer. Not enough to grip me although the death of Bambi’s Mom is traumatic, we haven’t gotten to know her very well and she is quickly replaced by a bland Faline. Still, I own it and enjoy watching it. It’s very good. (Bambi is our first B graded picture so I like all from now on a lot. That’s 30 films with a B or higher!)
30. Lilo and Stitch– LOVE, love, love the Nani and Lilo sections and Ohana themes. Love Hawaii backdrop and the watercolors. I love the Elvis music. I do not love Stitch. I wish they had gone more ET and less cockroach. He’s too mean, takes it too far and looks too gross. But the stuff I like I really love
29. Winnie the Pooh– A worthy entry in the Winie the Pooh series. Lovely, simple story for young children. Not too scary and nice message. Beautifully drawn and enough humor to entertain adults. Voices are a little off but I enjoyed it. Love the music.
28.Hercules– a guilty pleasure of mine. Disney’s first attempt at a super hero movie and I enjoy it. I love the gospel muses and the music. The villain is dry and funny and Megura is sassy and a lot of fun to figure out. Pain and panic are very funny too.
27. Tarzan- Looks gorgeous. The flow and feeling of Tarzan surfing on the trees looks great. Jane is a lot of fun too and not always the damsel in distress we expect. Sidekicks are lame and villain a bore. Songs especially You’ll be in my heart are great.
26. Melody Time– Aside from Ichabod and Mr Toad, my favorite of the package films. Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill are lovingly drawn with good music and tightly written scripts.
25. Pinocchio– I know some will be shocked to have this so low on the list but it is so grim and sad with no sense of retribution or punishment for the wrong doers. I guess the kids just stay as donkeys. Some of the story and design choices don’t make a lot of sense but as a morality play on film it works well and Pinocchio and Geppetto are both likable and the music is classic especially When You Wish Upon a Star.
24 Robin Hood– Great dry wit and folksy music save this recycled animation cash grab. It’s very entertaining and has some fun action sequences too. It goes on for one act too many and becomes a little repetitive. Great villain. I love it!
23. Lady and the Tramp– Lovely Norman Rockwell style animation with an appealing dog couple (may be Disney’s best romance ever filmed…hmm). Siamese song is a little insensitive but brief and then we never see them again which is strange. They could have been more important to the story? Great side characters of Trusty, Jox and Trixie. Fun jazz inspired score and songs by Peggy Lee. A little too predictable and syrupy to be in top 20 but close.
22 Atlantis- A fun treasure hunt with eclectic cast of characters who are funny and surprised me from time to time. I enjoyed seeing an original land, language, culture. Looks great. Kind of like a cross between anime and comic books with a bit of steampunk thrown in. In the minority on enjoying this picture, but I thought it was an entertaining adventure. Kida is a weak character but as she isn’t one of the core group it doesn’t matter too much. This is the first A of the list so the rest are all very strong.
21. Emperor’s New Groove- More laughs crammed in than any other Disney movie and they worked. Very funny script and appealing enough characters to support the humor. Great villain, good voice performances. Especially when you know the troubles they had making it, it’s a wonder it produced something so entertaining. Creative story too.
20. Aladdin- One of Disney’s best characters and certainly the funniest single character. The Genie (aka Robin Williams) is hilariously spastic and full of energy. Nice chemistry between Aladdin and Jasmine and she has more spunk than a typical princess. Jafar is an ok villain. Animation is ok. But nice messages throughout, great songs, and a very entertaining picture for both boys and girls (and parents!).
19. Great Mouse Detective- Fun Disney take on Sherlock Holmes. Ratigan is hilarious villain with a over-the-top scheme to take over England. Basil and Dawson are very well done. The kidnapping scene at the beginning is pretty scary for young kids and the bat in the toy shop is a scary sequence. The saloon song I could do without but all in all a very fun movie. First extended use of CGI is very effective.
18. Rescuers Down Under- One of the rare sequels that is infinitely better than the original. Much less of the villain. Much more hope for Cody. Bernard and Bianca are back and a lot o f fun. John Candy is hilarious. Flying sequences gorgeous. Some of the CGI doesn’t hold up but for the most part a great adventure story. Like Indiana Jones for little kids. Underrated score by Bruce Broughton.
17. Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad- Don’t really think of it as a package film but definitely the best of that era. 2 American stories Wind and the Willows and Sleepy Hollow are done very well. Both dark in different ways. Toad more of a morality tale and Ichabod a classic ghost story. Basil Rathborne and Bing Crosby great as narrators. Beautifully drawn with scares and humor balanced out perfectly.
16. Snow White and the 7 Dwarves– Still holds up amazingly well. Animation is beautiful especially in scenes like the transformation of the queen and the haunted forest. Some humor and emotional scenes too. Not a huge fan of the voice work and especially the high pitched singing. Great villain who isn’t satisfied unless she is the best at everything. 2 leads are pretty bland but ok.
15. Big Hero 6– Maybe recency bias but I loved Disney’s first Marvel super hero movie. It’s got heart, action and a script that surprised me. Plus, it looks gorgeous and has a unique world with very likable characters. I just loved it!
14. Mulan– Love the character of Mulan who joins the army to save her father. Li Shaang and rest of army appealing and fun. Eddie Murphy very good as Mushu. Completely forgettable villain given no nuance or subtlety. A few minutes after couldn’t remember his name. It also could be a hair shorter but I love it.
13. Lion King- A lot of pop music in both the songs and pacing. Draws you in. Very entertaining. Terrific villain and villain songs. Mufasa’s death is heart breaking. I love the message and story. The humor can be a little annoying but I still love it. Amazing Hans Zimmer score. Animation is stunning.
12. Dumbo- Such a sweet movie about accepting differences and how they make us special. A wonderful friendship between an unlikely pair of Timothy Q. Mouse and Dumbo. Pink Elephants on Parade is brilliant. Love the watercolors and simple backgrounds and feel of the circus. I don’t think the crows are all that racist and it’s just a lovely little movie with huge heart.
11. Alice in Wonderland- Not for everyone but if you can handle non0linear storytelling you will enjoy it. It’s basically Alice meeting a bunch of eclectic characters in Wonderland. It’s bright and colorful and clips along nicely. Only part that didn’t work for me was the Walrus segment. It stalls the story and I kept wanting to get back to Alice. So much better than Tim Burton versoin. Mary Blair drawings are stunning, bright and geometric. It’s nutty and weird and you will love it.
10.Sleeping Beauty- Gorgeous literary style animation. It feels like paper dolls in segments. One of most dynamic Prince in Disney. Amazing villain who should have been invited to the party! The fairies are fun. The alcoholic fathers I could do without and Aurora is too perfect and bland but the Tchaikovsky’s ballet as the score is neat, the battle between Phillip and Maleficent is awesome. A great movie!
9. The Jungle Book- All comes down to the music and villains. I hate the ending but Shere Kaun and Kaaa are very good villains. All the voice cast is fantastic and it is edited so well. Hardly a minute goes by without some action or a song. It clips a long so well and is consistently entertaining. Sherman Brother’s best music aside from Mary Poppins.
8. Frozen- A movie that showed a different kind of love- love of friendship and of sister. The voicecast features the best singers of any Disney movie. The songs are great. The message of not being who you are raised to be is moving and powerful. The animation is gorgeous. Just enough humor. I love it.
7. 101 Dalmatians- Best of the sketch films by far. Terrific and tense adventure. Fabulous villain with Cruella Deville. Lots of great characters and puppies are so cute. The scene where they get to the truck disguised is a nail biter. All the side characters on the journey and the twilight bark are a lot of fun. Roger and Anita are one of my all time favorite Disney couples. I love it6. Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh– 4 lovely stories of our friends at the Hundred Acre Woods that are just about perfect. Full of humor, great songs, and a little bit of zany scares with the Heffalumps and Woozles. The ending is perfect and really moved me. Winnie the Pooh symbolizes childhood and this movie is like a big hug.
5. Fantasia- A stunning concert experience. It’s like combining the best symphony and gallery you’ve ever been to into one experience. The music is gorgeous. The inspiration they get from the music inspires me to be more creative. It’s not a movie in a traditional sense but an experience like Tree of Life. I like all the segments but probably enjoy Sorcerers Apprentice, Nutcracker Suite and On Bald Mountain the most. If it feels long divide it up and watch it over a week. Nothing wrong with that. . Those who hate this film probably aren’t the biggest classical music fans and wouldn’t find going to a symphony or art gallery very enjoyable. I loved it.
4. Tangled- Proof that Disney brilliance isn’t only in the Golden Age and Renaissance. I LOVE the villain an villain song. The idea of a mother manipulating her daughter for her own selfish desires is so evil. The side characters including Maximus are great. Rapunzel is so kind and likable. We all know someone like her who is indecisive and naïve but charming. Flynn is a wonderful narrator and a complex, funny character. The animation is stunning especially the lantern scene in 3D. It’s Disney’s first attempt at a romantic comedy and they totally pulled it off.
3. Cinderella- Just about a perfect movie. Cinderella has warmth and kindness. She works hard and tries to be optimistic. Lady Tremaine is a fantastic villain who’s soul purpose seems to be to control Cinderella. The scene tearing the dress is devastating because we saw how tenderly it was given to her by her friends. The mice are cute and loyal friends. Small characters like Lucifer, Bruno, Archduke, and the King all have fun personalities. The Fairy Godmother is perfect and the music sublime. A Dream is a Wish is a favorite of mine and Bibbity Bobbity Boo a classic. The Prince is bland and they fall in love at first sight but at least we have gotten to know him a little bit through the King. It’s a great movie!
2. Little Mermaid– Truly my co-#1. I love Ariel’s journey to find out who she is and where she belongs. I love her curiosity and determination. I love Ursula and her drag queen crossed with a truck driver persona. I love the music especially Part of Your World and Under the Sea. I love the look of it and all the bubbles and colors. It’s so well paced and the characters, even the Prince, have real heart. They are all trying to do the right thing in their own minds. It is also very funny with Les Poissons a hilarious slapstick number. It was the most magical experience I had at the movies as a little girl and I just love it.
1. Beauty and the Beast– and co #1 goes to Beauty and the Beast. A perfect movie. The music is stunning. Belle is a fabulous heroine who we would all want to be friends with if given the chance. Gaston is hilarious and his journey to madness very interesting. The Beast is such a monster and yet he does change and grow until you are almost sad to see him turn into a human. I could listen to Angela Lansbury sing the title song all day. She is great in it. Jerry Orbach as Lumiere is perfect. I loved the broadway play and the movie is so entertaining. The animation looks amazing. The computer graphics hold up and still look fantastic. It’s a stunning picture that will entertain the whole family no matter the age or sex.
Here is a video version if you prefer that. If you are on youtube I would love a few likes.