I love lists. I know a lot of film fans think they are reductive, and they are right. However, they are also immensely fun to do. So here is a list of my favourite 20 Disney films, which is liable to change any day of the week but looking back over the project I reckon this is a rough estimate of my favourites. I started out with 10 but then felt bad for 10 more films I didn’t mention. Then after that I’ve included some more lists (the most difficult list was actually the last one!). I told you I love lists. I’ve not included Frozen, but I don’t know why not.
Please comment below with your versions of whichever lists interest you the most.
My 20 Favourite Disney Films
20. The Fox and the Hound
17. The Rescuers
16. Lady and the Tramp
15. The Aristocats
14. The Princess and the Frog
12. The Jungle Book
09. The ManyAdventures of Winnie The Pooh
07. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
06. The Little Mermaid
04. Beauty and the Beast
03. 101 Dalmatians
02. Alice In Wonderland
01. The Lion King
05. Fun and Fancy Free
03. The Three Caballeros
02. Chicken Little
01. Saludos Amigos
The 10 Best Disney Songs
10. Zero to Hero (Hercules)
09. Colours of the Wind (Pocahontas)
08. Down in New Orleans (The Princess and the Frog)
06. Make A Man Out of You (Mulan)
05. Everybody Wants to be a Cat (The Aristocats)
04. Why Should I Worry (Oliver and Company)
03. Strangers Like Me (Tarzan)
02. I Wanna Be Like You (The Jungle Book)
01. The Circle of Life (The Lion King)
The Five Best Disney Villains
04. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
03. Scar (The Lion King)
02. Count Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
01. Dr. Facilier (Princess and the Frog)
The Five Best Supporting Characters
05. Mushu (Mulan)
04. The Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)
03. Lumiere and Cogsworth (Beauty and the Beast)
02. Grumpy (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
01. Kronk (The Emperor’s New Groove)
The Five Disney Films That Might Be Underappreciated For Whatever Reason*
05. Basil, The Great Mouse Detective
04. Meet the Robinsons
03. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
02. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad
01. Alice in Wonderland
*possibly the most subjective category, I get it
04. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad
03. Alice In Wonderland
02. Fun and Fancy Free
01. The Black Cauldron
The Five Disney Films With The Best Soundtracks
06. The Lion King
04. The Jungle Book
03. The Princess and the Frog
02. Beauty and the Beast
01. Fantasia (cheating, I know)
Five Heroes of Disney
05. Phil Harris (Voice Artist, The Aristocats, The Jungle Book, Robin Hood)
04. Sterling Holloway (Voice Artist The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)
03. Alan Menken (Composer Most of the 90s films)
02. Wolfgang Reitherman (animator, director all the films from 101 Dalmatians to The Rescuers)
01. Walt Disney (Producer, insigator, entertainer)
The Five Films I’m Most Nostalgic About
04. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
02. Beauty and the Beast
01. The Lion King
The 10 Disney Films With The Best Animation
09. Lady and the Tramp
06. Alice in Wonderland
05. 101 Dalmatians
03. The Lion King
02. Sleeping Beauty
There exists, in the world of Disney fans, a curious group of people who would count The Emperor’s New Groove as their favourite film from the House of Mouse. They couldn’t care less about the Golden Age and they probably prefer Aladdin to The Lion King and Dreamworks to Pixar. I know a couple and I am even related to one. They are not to be trusted. Maybe it’s the only Disney film they’ve seen, it’s difficult to say. But they are out there, and they are not ashamed.
Let’s be clear: I really, really like The Emperor’s New Groove, but for me it only fulfils one of the categories that make up the best Disney films. The animation is strong but uninspired, there isn’t a whole lot of heart and nothing feels particularly wondrous. Yet these Groovesters, as I shall call them, are drawn to one particular aspect of the film – it’s entirely hilarious from start to finish, meaning that it is definitely the funniest film in the Disney canon. In fact, it could be their only straight-up comedy, relentless with its jokes with the sole aim of making the audience laugh. And in that it succeeds magnificently.
Arguably, The Emperor’s New Groove feels more like a classic Warner Bros cartoon than a Disney joint, braving the dangerous territory of meta-humour and mixing it with some perfectly pitched slapstick. The scene where Kronk and Yzma are chasing the two heroes and they see their path marked out by dots on a map, before they plummet comically down a ravine, is pure Wile E Coyote. It shares a similar joy of putting it’s characters through over the top pain that so characterised the Looney Tunes, setting the film in a world of trap doors and wrong levers, squirrels who wake panthers up by popping balloons and overly elaborate traps for baddies to fall into. It does all this with a gleeful, mischievous joy that it’s impossible not to laugh along with it.
Underlying all of this slapstick, however, is a genuinely intelligent vein of meta humour, complete with a knowingly unreliable narrator who argues with his characters, people writing their own theme tunes and one exquisite conversation between Kronk and the angel and demon on his shoulders. It’s a significant step up from attempts at this smart, knowing humour in Hercules, which missed the mark by some distance. Groove, by being very single minded in its pursuit of hilarity, hits the bullseye. Maybe the reason it is beloved can be down entirely to the character Kronk, a wonderfully dimwitted sidekick to Yzma, a villain funnier than she is scary. Kronk gets some of the best moments in the film, from talking to a squirrel in squeaks to becoming an impromptu chef in a sequence of repeated ‘near misses.’ If he was only the comic relief in a serious film, Groove would still be funnier than most other Disney films.
The main issue that stops it from being truly great, however, is that there’s nothing beyond the jokes. The South American setting is rendered in stylised animation that is more there to serve the comedy than to impress. The friendship between Pacha (voiced by John Goodman whose distinctive bass tones have graced a silly amount of animated films) and Cuzco is nicely played but unremarkable – you’ve seen storylines like it before, even if the storytellers’ commitment to the Emperor’s nastiness is admirable. Aside from the villain, the female characters are either underserved or simply non-existent. This means that, refreshingly, there is no tacked on romance, but it also means that it’s a bit of a boys-own story. None of these are problems in and of themselves, but accumulated it means that it doesn’t quite hit the heights of the studio’s best stuff.
There isn’t much more to Groove than its relentless comedy, but when a film is this funny, that isn’t necessarily an issue. It’s the intelligence and success of the humour that probably gives the film its place as a cult favourite among Disney fans, even if it won’t be challenging for a place in my top 10 at the end of the year. However, if anyone ever says that this is their favourite Disney film, throw a copy of The Lion King at them.
Hello everyone, just a quick note to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Hope you all got some cracking presents and had a great time with family and friends. There are some top quality animations on television over this period, too, so keep an eye on listings (if you missed How To Train Your Dragon then you are a fool). So enjoy the rest of this festive period and I hope your 2013 gets off to a great start.
This is also a way of explaining my absence on here for the past few weeks. Unfortunately being a student as well as a film buff means that sometimes cinema has to take the backseat whilst exams happen. December has been so hectic for me, and a trip home has also given me little time for writing. I wasn’t even able to see Tinkerbell and the Secret of the Wings, which @PaulEGreenwood says is actually pretty good, so there’s your review for that. But hey, it’s December, so what are you doing reading my blog anyway? You could be having snow ball fights and sledging and stuff. Or if, like me, you live in the UK, you should probably just stay indoors as long as possible. So yeah, I guess you might have wanted to read the blog.
Anyway, there’s lots coming up so don’t lose faith in my blog! Before the year is out, I should have my Live Action Film of the Month for December online (sorry about the lack of one for November, it was Elena by Andrei Zvyagintsev for those who were wondering). I’ll also do my summary of the year, saying what my favourite animations were, which live action films I loved the most, and maybe I’ll make up some of my own categories too. Then 2013 has A LOT in store for the blog. Dreamworks start their three a year plan, Disney bring out Wreck-It-Ralph and there should hopefully be some delightful 2D animation, too. I still haven’t seen Ernest et Celestine. Not only that, but there will be regular doses of Weekend Shorts and retrospectives, a new series of guest columns and a very exciting project that will kick off in the first week of 2013. You’ll hear more about that in the near future.
So the blog IS still happening, it just had a wee hiatus whilst the other half of my dual life took over for a while. Rest assured, however, 2013 is going to be a big year.