It should come as no surprise that the three of us grew up loving animated films in general, and Walt Disney feature films in particular. We grew up in the time of the “clamshell” video cases, and I remember a veritable forest of them populating the shelves of my parents’ entertainment center. In fact, they’re all still there, though shoved to the back with the rest of the videotapes, their former spaces now filled by an overflow of DVDs and Blu-rays.
Each of us has our particular favorites, and each of us tends to collect memorabilia and items related to those favorites. And there are some films in the Disney canon that we tend to avoid for sheer lack of interest. Still, whether the film in question is truly awesome or truly boring, each film in the Disney repertoire has contributed, in various ways, to the acceptance of animation as a genuine art form.
It’s only natural, then, that we would want to dedicate the first installments of our new Saturday Morning Cartoons series to celebrating not only the truly awesome entries in the Disney animation catalog but (let’s face it) the ones that make us want to snooze. Carrie, Nikki, and I have taken the list of full-length animated Disney features (up through 1999’s Tarzan) and split them (relatively) evenly amongst ourselves. Over the next few months, every Saturday, we will address each of these films in turn, presenting our analysis and opinion of each one, from the stories themselves to the vocal performances and cultural impact they had (and continue to have) on our society as a whole.
But before we do that, we’d like to share a preview of our favorites and not-so-favorites in the Disney animation canon …
Brandie: It’s hard to narrow it down, but if I have to choose just one, I’m going to go with Alice in Wonderland. No, it’s not strictly faithful to the novel’s storyline, but I think it’s definitely faithful to its spirit. And it’s just plain fun.
Carrie: Oliver and Company, Dumbo. I’ll review Dumbo and Oliver later, so no comments now. I also watched Lady and the Tramp a lot when I was little. However, the later Disney, it’s probably The Lion King or Mulan. Mulan is my hero. Beauty and the Beast, The Great Mouse Detective, and The Little Mermaid are really close runners, though.
Nikki: I can’t pick one but I can pick three: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Lady and the Tramp. Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy tales and is the one most associated with me. I love Sleeping Beauty for the music, the artistry, and the villain (Maleficent rocks!). Lady and the Tramp is, well, just awesome.
Brandie: Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Bad-ass to the umpteenth degree. Is it wrong that I want to be her when I grow up …? Oh, well.
Carrie: Maleficent. Pure evil. So wicked. Maleficent is by far the best villain ever. Ever. Expression. Voice. Green fire. Awesome. Watching it later, I could only think, “Wow, this is scary. How did I miss that?” She’s amazing… and hello, she can turn into an awesome black dragon! However, I also have to give some serious props to Shere Khan. I love, love, love his voice. It’s perfect. Melodious, dripping, and cruel. It’s hard to find that these days.
Nikki: Maleficent is evilness personified and is super awesome at it. Close second goes to Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective if for no other reason that he’s voiced by one of the best villain voices ever, Vincent Price.
FAVORITE HERO/HEROINE (HUMAN):
Brandie: Mulan is one of the more proactive Disney heroines, and I love her spunky nature.
Carrie: Mulan, Mulan, Mulan! She gets it done and stands up for what she believes to be right, simply because it’s right (similarly, Pocahontas, but Mulan is just more awesome). I also liked Meg in Hercules for spunk and sarcasm. I also have to admit a soft spot for Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Nikki: Belle – Yes, she’s a dreamer but she also stands up for what she believes and takes care of everyone else too. And she gets one of the best libraries in all of film.
FAVORITE HERO/HEROINE (ANIMAL):
Brandie: Thumper, from Bambi. “Watch what I can do!”
Carrie: Eeyore, Sebastian the Crab, and Marie from The Aristocats.
Nikki: Gus from Cinderella – because let’s face it, without Gus Gus, Cinderella never gets to happily ever after. Close behind would be Bernard from The Rescuers and Mushu from Mulan.
Brandie: “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from Song of the South. It always put me in a good mood.
Carrie: “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, “Reflection” from Mulan, most of the Lion King soundtrack, and “Candle on the Water” from Pete’s Dragon.
Nikki: “A Dream is a Wish” from Cinderella, “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Hercules, and “Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp
FILMS FOR WHICH I COLLECT STUFFS:
Brandie: Alice in Wonderland, particularly items with the Cheshire Cat. For some reason, I have a lot of Alice coffee mugs … I also have some Pooh stuff, but not as much as I used to.
Carrie: Winnie the Pooh, mostly. I love Mulan, but don’t have much. I also have a stuffed Timon.
Nikki: Princess stuff in general but Cinderella mostly, including 2 glass slippers.
LEAST FAVORITE FILM:
Brandie: The Black Cauldron. I just don’t like it–the story, the characters, all of it is off-putting to me.
Carrie: Pinocchio–it just doesn’t do much for me, anymore; Freaky Friday (although I liked the remake, which is somehow just wrong) and Fantasia (sorry, Brandie. Please don’t hate me.)
Nikki: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – As much as I love fairy tales, I really don’t like this one. I appreciate the film for its cultural significance but other than that, just doesn’t do anything for me.
LEAST FAVORITE VILLAIN:
Brandie: Ratcliffe from Pocahontas. He’s kind of an impotent villain–not all that scary, and not very impressive.
Carrie: Aunt What’s-Her-Name with the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp, although I really am fond of the cats.
Nikki: Ratcliffe from Pocahontas and Judge Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame – Even with the amazing voice talent behind these two, I just don’t like them.
LEAST FAVORITE HERO/HEROINE:
Brandie: Snow White. She. Is. A. Wimp.
Carrie: Phoebus from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and John Smith from Pocahontas: they’re just full of it. I’m also not a fan of Eric in The Little Mermaid.
Nikki: Pinocchio – Just not a fan of him or the story.
LEAST FAVORITE HERO/HEROINE (ANIMAL):
Brandie: I’m not too fond of Bianca from The Rescuers.
Carrie: I honestly don’t know. I think I like all the animals…
Nikki: I really don’t have one but I reserve the right to change my mind on that.
LEAST FAVORITE SONG:
Brandie: “I Got No Strings” from Pinocchio. Love the movie, hate that song because it gets in my head and stays there for days and days.
Carrie: “April Showers” from Bambi, “Bibbety-Bobbety-Boo” from Cinderella (sorry, Nikki), “You Can Fly” from Peter Pan; they just don’t stand well on their own for me.
Nikki: “I Got No Strings” from Pinocchio – It works in the context of the film but other than that, it’s just annoying.
Feel free to share your favorites (and not-so-favorites) in the comments below!
We hope you’ll join us as we journey through Disney World (pun intended). Next week, we’ll start our long and strange Saturday trips with a look at the film that started it all–1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.