Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Continuing the Disney Countdown...

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Last week I started counting down the 50 Disney animated feature films, going from #50-31. Today, I continue with the next chunk, which really span a wide variety of my opinions. This section contains some of the oldest films, a few of the newest films, and even a couple from the "Disney Renaissance." I'm sure that there will be some disagreement with my selections today, but hopefully there will be an equal amount of support... we'll see! Consider commenting at the bottom with your thoughts.

30. Pinocchio. This is another film where there are certain scenes I love (like "When You Wish Upon a Star"), and scenes that bother me (the entire time Pinocchio is a donkey, for instance). I also really hated the villain... Stromboli scared me. So, it sits here, more than halfway down the list... which is the lowest placement I've seen for this film.

29. Meet the Robinsons. Man, do I have a soft spot in my heart for orphans who are geniuses. Little Lewis is an inventor who winds up in the future and meets his family without realizing it. I was completely thrown off when I saw this, but intrigued that Disney crafted the story in this way. And, everything winds up great in the end, as even the "villain" gets a family.

28. Fox and the Hound. I originally thought that this would score about 10 places higher on my list, so now we're getting into the tricky decisions. I think this is a really cute movie, but not as endearing as each one I placed above it. That said, some of my favorite parts are when Tod meets Vixey, the "Best of Friends" song and sequence, and when Copper tries to save Tod by leading Slade the wrong way during the chase.

27. Bolt. I love the idea that the dog thinks he has super powers. And the fact that he has a hamster for a fan is hilarious. Really, the entire hour-and-a-half is hilarious. Add in the fact that I first saw it in 3D and I think the amusement factor doubles.

26. Fun and Fancy Free. I really enjoyed the "bonus feature" on the DVD that explained the history of this project (which was started before WWI, but put aside for quite a while), and I think that using Bongo as a spin-off of sorts from Dumbo would have been more interesting than what they ended up with. However, I've always loved Mickey and the Beanstock. Historically, this was the last time that Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse, and I think that adds something extra-special as well. If you haven't seen this one, you really should. 

25. The Jungle Book. I saw this one over and over as a kid, as it was one of my brother's favorite movies. The only scene that I really don't care for (and, I admit, I fast-forward through even now) is the group of vultures. Baloo is such a lovable character, and "I Wan'na be Like You" is so catchy! My favorite part is the elephants. :)

24. 101 Dalmatians. Well, as much as The Jungle Book was a favorite of my brother's, this one was totally my sister's. Our childhood last name is written on the box and the tape because she'd bring it to daycare at every opportunity. This is one where I love all of the songs, though there are admittedly only three. There are some clever moments, like the dogs rolling in soot to pretend to be labradors. Oh, and how about the awesomeness of the "Twilight Bark" !!!

23. Lady & the Tramp. I wanted to see this one for years before I finally watched it at a friend's house in middle school. There are some really cute moments, and I'm not just talking about the darling "sucking the same piece of linguine" scene. I really liked "The Siamese Cat Song," and find "Bella Notte" to make me all warm & fuzzy inside each time I hear it. However, I can't say it's the best plot that Disney has to offer. A little too "slice of life" as opposed to a genuine problem-and-solution, and that's how it falls here.

22. Make Mine Music. Two of the ten segments of this compilation are among my very favorite in all of the Disney canon. "Peter and the Wolf" is incredibly moving to me - not only because Prokofiev's score is enlightening, but also because the animation just follows the music so fantastically! "Casey at the Bat," a poem which I worked into a drama curriculum I designed for elementary schoolers, is also delightfully animated in Make Mine Music. Now, I enjoy it most followed immediately by "Casey Bats Again," but it's still cute on its own. "The Martins and the Coys" would be my #3 pick, but the other 7 I'll take a pass on.

21. Peter Pan. I think J. M. Barrie's story is beautifully written. I have seen more than ten adaptations of Peter Pan, and find that this ranks up there (though not as masterful as the Mary Martin version, which I adore). The songs are so wonderful (my brother and I tried on more than one occasion to take all of the advice in "You Can Fly!" and soar off the couch!), and I specifically enjoy the coloring throughout the film. All of that said, it does get annoying to watch time after time...

20. Cinderella. As a young girl, this film was my favorite for a year or two, but ultimately the balance of scenes I love canceled out the scenes I don't care for. My very favorite part is the mice making Cinderella's dress, closely followed by the "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" sequence. However, I can only barely stand a handful of the stepsisters' appearances (the only one I actually like is when they're trying on the glass slipper), and I don't like the King much, either. 

19. Fantasia. I used to fast-forward whenever they'd show the orchestra (I deemed that part "beyond boring" until I was eleven or twelve), and I'd stop it just after the final feature "Night on Bald Mountain" began (it scared me). But when I actually watched the shapes and colors and forms along with the melodies, the entire experience came alive for me, and it still does.

18. Chicken Little. Of the Disney films that were released in the past ten years, I rank this one the highest. Which is surprising, when you consider that Rotten Tomatoes ranks it dead last out of all 50. And, I'll admit, I didn't expect to be taken with it. But, I found it to be wonderful. For Disney's first non-Pixar, full-CGI film, it's beautiful. The story may not be original, but I thought that it was touching... moments like Chicken Little asking his dad if he could try out for the baseball team are memorable. The songs are cute ("One Little Slip" really got me in a Disney mood, LoL), and the overall message is encouraging. It's near the top of my "to buy" list.

17. The Emperor's New Groove. I actually first saw this on an Early Dismissal day in high school, LoL. And I just couldn't stop laughing. I've probably seen it five times since then, and it's always so funny to me. As far as villains go, Yzma is pretty wicked. But Kronk is equally lovable. The plot isn't fabulous (though being a llama is kinda cool!), but there are some unique aspects.

16. The Great Mouse Detective. I really like how this is a take-off of Sherlock Holmes but still fairly original. And, I don't know about you, but I love the idea that mice and rats are keeping cats and dogs as pets. I like the names, I love that art, and I think the colors are pretty. I can watch this one repeatedly and still find new things to admire.

15. The Rescuers Down Under. Cody isn't the most exciting, but I think the rest of the film just keeps moving. Joanna is hilarious, perhaps one of most humorous Disney pets ever. Bernard and Bianca's side-story is cute, especially as Jake factors in as a flirt. The biggest downfall for this film? No cool songs.

14. Mulan. I just couldn't get enough of this movie when it first came out! The story is cute... a girl disguises herself as a man to serve in the army in her aging father's place. At first she sucks, but eventually rises to heroism. The songs are awesome ("I'll Make a Man Out of You," "A Girl Worth Fighting For," and "Honor to Us All" are all illustrative of the Disney creativity during their Renaissance), and Eddie Murphy as Mushu is a nice comedic addition.

13. Sleeping Beauty. There are tons of "little things" that I love about this film. I like the name "Aurora." I love when the the fairies take turns changing her dress from pink to blue and back again. I love the baking of the cake. I even like the dragon. I'm partial to Tchaikovsky, so of course I love the scoring. I don't like Maleficent as a villain in the ways I enjoy Ursula or Prince John, and I think that's one of the main things that keeps it from being in my Top Ten.

12. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. There's something about Winnie the Pooh as a character that just draws me in. My siblings and I were pretty addicted to the Pooh stories, and we owned many of the videos, which each saw a great deal of play. This collection is pretty classic, and "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" is among my very favorites - it probably IS my mom's favorite. The song selection is great, and there's plenty of Tigger scenes!

11. Pocahontas. I'm actually not in love with the story. In fact, I did my Extended Essay (it's an IB thing... so if you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry, LoL) on the historical inaccuracies of this film and Disney's depiction of Davy Crockett. But, it has many redeeming qualities in my eyes, and that's how it worked its way up to #11. I like Pocahontas's spirit. I love the songs - everything from "Steady as the Beating Drum" to "Just Around the Riverbend" to "Mine, Mine, Mine." And, of course, "Colors of the Wind," among others. Plus, although Meeko and Flit are some great sidekicks, Grandmother Willow as a character added something extra.

Okay, folks. We're coming up on the Top 10 next week. You can clearly figure out which ten I chose, but the order may surprise you. Anyone want to venture a guess as to what I put in #1? Also, if you're getting really excited about creating your own lineup, I invite you to read an article that two of my friends wrote, detailing some of the aspects that make a Disney movie magical.
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