In an effort to keep this light and fun, I decided to look at some of the best Disney movies I grew up watching. To be perfectly honest, I was a pretty big Disney fan when I was a kid like every other person I knew. Something about Simba taking his rightful place in the circle of life and Aladdin getting everything he ever wished for and more, sparked my imagination and moved me in ways like celluloid (or digital flicks) had never before. Let’s go ahead and start with number 5 and work our way up to what I feel is the best realization of a Disney dream…
5. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The tale of a love triangle between the perfect daughter and lover (Belle), a magically transformed ass of a prince (the Beast) and a brutish jock (Gaston). Voiced by Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson and Richard White, this story captured the imagination of little girls everywhere. That in turn allowed ugly guys everywhere to have a shot with that one cute girl since the film taught us that with a kiss, everyone could become a hottie… or I may have missed the actual lesson. That being said, Shrek seemed to have borrowed heavily from this theme albeit with a modern and way more awesome twist.
4. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
Who could say no to a pair of mice bent on saving all the children in the world? Not I. The Rescuers Down Under is the follow up to the 1977 film entitled The Rescuers which explores the underground world of the Rescue Aid Society (RAS) and an intrepid, yet unlikely duo of the lovely Miss Bianca and her not-so-fearless sidekick Bernard. Voice talents included Bob Newhard, Eva Gabor and the comedic mastermind John Candy. In this story, they head to Australia where a bird that’s entirely too big is being hunted down much to the chagrin of a young boy who decides to risk life and limb to save it.
3. Finding Nemo (2003)
I’ll never forget how amazed I was when I saw Finding Nemo, a story of a single father who battles the world’s oceans to find his young boy… errr… clown fish. In any case, the film saw the talents of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, and of course, Willem Dafoe. It was really an all-star cast that only played second fiddle to the awesome writing. Themes explored in this film include the effect of humans on animal wildlife and of course, the inexorable bond between father and son. One of those timeless stories you know you’ll share with your own children when that time comes.
2. Toy Story (1995)
Who can forget the first synergistic production from Disney and 3D animation powerhouse Pixar Studios? Literally set the bar for animated features for every single story that has been told since. For those who haven’t seen it, it is the tale of a group of toys who belonged to a boy named Andy. Unfortunately, like all boys, Andy starts growing up and the toys are left to wonder about their uncertain future. This was a masterpiece from all angles and who would have thought that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen would have made such an awesome duo?
1. The Lion King (1994)
I know a lot of people are going to be sad that some great films were omitted from this list and rightly so; however, I don’t think anyone will argue that The Lion King sits atop them all. Voiced by stars like James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, and Matthew Broderick, the film explorers the ubiquitous circle of life and every creatures’ place in the natural order of things. Jeremy Irons (Scar) was probably one of the most devious villains to be portrayed, masterfully I might add, on the silver screen. Please don’t lie and say you didn’t shed a tear when Mufasa died… Don’t worry, that’s not much of a spoiler. That’s only where the journey begins!
As with all my Top 5 lists, I always like to tip my hat to one shining example that didn’t quite make the list. Today, that is Wall E. If you think dialogue is needed to illicit emotion, then this would be a the film to watch to be proven wrong. I won’t go too much into the plot but I will say it explores issues like pollution, societal trends, laziness, mankind’s shaky future, and of course, love.