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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What is your favorite Disney/Disney-Pixar movie?

While we wait for the wide release of The Princess and the Frog — my review is coming soon — is a good opportunity to look back at the last 20 years of Disney animated movies. Over at Film.com, I recently ranked all the Disney/Disney-Pixar movies since the Disney renaissance began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid. The members of the Online Film Critics Society just did the same thing, en masse — go here to see what our top Disney/Disney-Pixar film is.

Now it’s your turn. (Wikipedia has a cheat sheet if you need some help jarring your memory as far as what Disney has released.)

What is your favorite Disney/Disney-Pixar movie?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • Patti H.

    Wall-E is my absolute fave, followed closely by The Incredibles and Lilo and Stitch. (I’m pleased you like The Emperor’s New Groove so much, and you must try to see James and the Giant Peach!)

  • Lisa

    The Incredibles is fantastic. I love it to bits but Wall-e is also quite good – I haven’t seen Up yet.

  • Gia

    Beauty and the Beast, hands down.

  • Bluejay

    Wow. It’s hard to disagree with your rankings, and it’s nice to be reminded of all the quality films Disney/Pixar produced (despite my criticisms of Disney for other reasons). I’ve been curious about “Treasure Planet” and I think I’ll check it out.

    I have to say I have a soft spot for “Meet the Robinsons.” I wasn’t interested when it came out in theaters, but I watched the DVD with my daughter when she had to analyze it for school. I was expecting some throwaway snarky, hyperkinetic crap, but instead found myself really moved by the “Keep Moving Forward” theme: learn from your mistakes, let go of past regrets, keep trying to make things better. Hell, I even teared up at the cheesy Rob Thomas song at the end. I think the film really tapped into Walt’s profound optimism about the future, which is something I’ve always liked about him.

    And Bowler Hat Guy is just such an awesome buffoon.

  • Isobel

    Disney: Beauty & the Beast
    Disney/Pixar: Toy Story

  • Kenny

    I’m going to go for Wall-e. It took a science fiction idea and did what the genre has been crying out for… weaving a beautiful character story. The non-human character’s dialogue could be written on the back on an envelope, and yet we get to know and care for them deeply. Finally, the messages and morals of the story are wonderful…
    We’ve only got one world, take care of it.
    Deal with your problems, don’t run away from them.
    And the most important…. Live your life, get up off your fat arse and do something with it. It’s not enough just to exist.

  • Kenny

    Umm.. your life that is,.. not your arse.

  • I would have to go for The Lion King because there is something about the storyline combined with the music which really makes it the best on the list.

  • Bluejay

    I would have to go for The Lion King because there is something about the storyline …

    Well, you really can’t go wrong with “Hamlet.” :-)

  • Brian

    I was all ready to say Fantasia until I noticed your start date of 1989. Disney movies, and most movies in general, don’t get any better than Fantasia.

    But in the last 20 years, Toy Story 2 takes the cake. It’s right up there with The Godfather, Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, and Aliens in the running for Best. Sequel. Ever. It’s a better, deeper story than the first, still funny as heck after repeat viewings, and if you don’t emit even a single tear during that song/montage recounting Jessie’s heartbreaking past, you actually may not have a heart.

  • Accounting Ninja

    See, I really have to separate it. My favorite Pixar movie is The Incredibles, followed by Wall-E. Both great, but The Incredibles won out for me on sheer fun, heart and great depiction of an adult, happy marriage. Plus, the female characters rocked.

    Now, pure Disney? Tarzan. Nobody sang, really. It was darker and sexier. The Lion King comes in second. I like the darker ones. :)

  • jakob1978

    It has to be Beauty and the Beast…just a wonderful film in every single way.

  • markyd

    Disney and Pixar are two separate entities to me. Always will be.
    Disney rank:
    1. The Lion King – The very first time I saw the Circle of Life preview in the theater I was floored. One of my favorite movies of all time.
    2. Hercules – Hades + the elementals = good time had by all.
    3. Tarzan – This movie really connected with me. Might be because my mother died that spring. I also liked the Phil Collins soundtrack. Sue me.

    I actually liked Treasure Planet, too, but not enough to rank it. Same with Bolt. Surprisingly good movie.

    Pixar rank:
    1. The Incredibles – I LOVE this movie. Easily one of the best comic book(if not THE best)movies ever made. The sheer pace of it still wows me.
    2. Wall-E – At least until the humans show up. The space “dance” is pure magic.
    I really need to watch TS2 again. I don’t remember much about it aside from it being pretty darned good.

  • chuck

    Pixar
    Toy Story – It was groundbreaking
    Finding Nemo – although I can’t remember why :)

    Disney
    Aladdin – When my oldest son was little he watched this over and over and over, and for some reason I never got tired of it.

  • Kate

    Beauty and the Beast , by far.

    Also: Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, The Lion King , and other hits from the early-to-mid 1990s, before computers took over everything.

  • I’m quite fond of Ratatouille.

  • Cori Ann

    Oh man, I gobbled up everything Disney put out from The Little Mermaid up through The Emperor’s New Groove at least, and Pixar is probably my favorite movie-making group out there, so this is a difficult one.

    For basic animation I would have to say it’s a tie between The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Then for Pixar it is Wall-E, though if I had to pick a singular favorite it is Wall-E hands down. That movie just sticks with me. I have a hard time thinking about it without wanting to go watch it again.

    Also, just for the record, as far as the old school Disney, it’s totally Sleeping Beauty. :o)

  • CB

    All I have to say is… NO CAPES!

  • You have to divide the two: Disney flicks and Pixar flicks are, even though they’re owned by the same corporate entity (300-foot Mickey), completely different creatures.

    Favorite Disney flick (modern classic era): Beauty and the Beast. It deserves being the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture, but remains enjoyable and the best adaptation of a fairy tale in the Disney catalog.

    Favorite Disney guilty pleasure: Rescuers Down Under. The opening sequence of the camera “flying” over the Australian landscape was the most awe-inspiring sequence seen up to that time. And they topped it later with the eagle and boy flying sequence. Almost tied for it: Emperor’s New Groove, which is basically Disney’s attempt to make a Tex Avery film (and succeeding).

    Disney movie that should have won like 20 Oscars: Lion King. Shakespearean-level epic (a retelling of Hamlet, after all) with outstanding animation and voice-acting. Only… there’s still something about it that’s not as enjoyable as B&B.

    Favorite Pixar flick: Incredibles. I am an unabashed comics geek. I have the Incredibles not only my favorite Pixar but also my favorite superhero film of all time. Runner-ups: Wall-E and Toy Story 2.

    Favorite Pixar guilty pleasure: Monsters Inc. Although a bit by-the-numbers, the story plays well and I like the characters. The ‘Feed the Kitty’ homage was aces. And the final scene is perhaps the best HAPPY tear-jerker ending in animation history.

    Pixar movie that should have won like 20 Oscars: Wall-E. The sound effects guy Burtt: denied! Almost as big a travesty as Edward G. Robinson never winning a Best Actor trophy. (Pixar movie that SHOULD WIN like 20 Oscars is Up. Here’s hoping).

  • Jester

    1. Toy Story. People have obviously forgotten how ground-breaking it was, and how magical it is. ;-)
    2. The Incredibles. Clever and fun and never, ever gets old.
    3. Beauty and the Beast. Just lovely in almost every way.
    4. Aladdin. IMO, the funniest Disney movie, and the most equally enjoyable by kids and adults.
    5. The Lion King. Is the rest of the movie as good as the opening five minutes? Be honest.

    WALL-E doesn’t make my top 10. I just don’t see what everyone else seems to see in it.

  • Pollas

    Disney – The Lion King

    Disney/Pixar – Ratatouille

  • Bluejay

    Re: The Lion King:

    Slightly off-topic, but have you folks seen the Broadway musical? As much as I love the movie, I was just stunned at how much the stage production raced past my expectations and kept going and going. Saw it with my dad, and it’s the only time I’ve ever seen him raise his hands and shout for sheer joy (at the end of “Circle of Life”).

  • Brian

    . . . the stage production [of The Lion King] raced past my expectations and kept going and going.

    Chalk that up to the brilliance of Ms. Julie Taymor, the director and co-designer of those magical puppets. She’s my all-time theatre geek crush. (She also directed the films Titus, Frida, and Across the Universe.)

  • markyd

    Yes, Mr. Jay, I took the wife to see The Lion King in Chicago. We both enjoyed it quite a bit. I actually went out and bought the cd Rhythm of the Pride Lands because of “He Lives in You” and other Lebo M songs. Good stuff.

    Back to the movies…
    On thinking back, I really liked most of those 90’s Disney releases. Aladdin, Mulan, Hunchback, even Emperors New Groove. The introduction of CG seemed to do them in, although they have improved a bit.

  • wooster182

    How is the Little Mermaid antifeminist? She fights the bonds of her social structure to get what she really wants. Okay, so it’s to get married, but she knows what she wants and she lives by her convictions to go after it.

    I would think if it were antifeminist, she would listen to her father and stay confined to the society in which she was born.

  • zepto

    My favorite Disney movie is Mulan, followed by Emperor’s New Groove. I like the underlying message of Mulan enough to rewatch it over and over, and Emperor’s New Groove is fresh and different from other Disney films. Out of the Pixar movies, I like Ratatouille best. There are so many good ones to choose from though.

  • Monsters, Inc.

    I believe that there’s nothing funnier than monsters having a civil conversation, and that’s all that movie was.

  • Hdj

    How come “the Fox and the Hound” isn’t on this list wtf?

    Anyways I’ll have to put Aladdin at #1 , the music in that movie is hard to get out of your head. plus Robin Williams was really funny.

  • Hank Graham

    Pixar–Up

    Disney–Lilo & Stitch

    Obviously, YMMV.

  • How is the Little Mermaid antifeminist? She fights the bonds of her social structure to get what she really wants. Okay, so it’s to get married, but she knows what she wants and she lives by her convictions to go after it.

    I would think if it were antifeminist, she would listen to her father and stay confined to the society in which she was born.

    In his book Hollywood Vs. America, conservative film “critic” Michael Medved actually takes The Little Mermaid to task for being too disrespectful towards Ariel’s father. Yet more proof that when it comes to certain issues, even the best writers in the world can’t please everyone.

    But then Aesop taught us all that, right? Or was it Monty Python?

  • Pixar: The Incredibles, natch.

    Regular Disney: The Emperor’s New Groove.

    Non-Disney: The Iron Giant. (Not that anyone was asking but still…)

  • Hank Graham

    And, just for grins, here’s how I’d rank the full list:

    1. Up
    2. The incredibles
    3. Lilo & Stitch
    4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
    5. Meet the Robinsons
    6. Toy Story 2
    7. A Bug’s Life
    8. Toy Story
    9. The Emperor’s New Groove
    10. WALL-E
    11. Beauty and the Beast: Beautifully done, but there’s an unconscious antifeminism in this one that bugs me.
    12. The Lion King: And I’ve never understand the attraction this fervent defense of the Divine Right of Kings has for folks, albeit they did it very well.
    13. Finding Nemo
    14. Cars
    15. Monsters, Inc.
    16. Aladdin
    17. Fantasia 2000
    18. Bolt
    19. Tarzan
    20. Mulan
    21. The Little Mermaid: Love the music, but Maryann’s right, this one is antifeminist.
    22. Chicken Little: It made me laugh, but then it’s forgotten.
    23. Pocahontas: I have personal issues with this, as I’m native American. Can we PLEASE give the native princess myth a rest?
    24. James and the Giant Peach: Not really bad so much as wholly forgettable. I had to consider it a lot as to whether it or Pocahontas should have the low spot.

    HAVEN’T SEEN;
    Treasure Planet (2002): Hmmm. You’ve gotten me interested.
    Home on the Range (2004)
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
    Hercules (1997)
    Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
    Brother Bear (2003)
    Dinosaur (2000)
    A Christmas Carol (2009)

  • Paul

    If I had a top ten list, it would be almost all Pixar with one slot reserved for Mulan. She’s proactive, she kicks ass, she’s unselfish, she’s woman vs. societial norms vs. invading society.

    The Incredibles was in many ways a great spoof of superheroes, but something about the message, that some people really are more special than others and that it is evil to sell everyone superpowers, creeps me out more every time I watch it. Still on my top ten list, but it’s still a little creepy.

    I watched the Lion King and I couldn’t stop thinking, wow, 90% of those animals are worshipping another animal that will try to eat them tomorrow. And I didn’t get into the music either.

  • Karalora

    I couldn’t possibly rank all of them. I have a hard enough time just ranking the Pixar films. But I’ll throw in another favorable vote for “Treasure Planet.” It’s such a feat of imaginative design, and the characterization of Jim and Long John Silver is excellent.

  • Chip

    My favorite Pixar film has to be Toy Story; it’s funnier now than it was when I was little, and is just so original. Toy Story 2 was also very good, especially as I sequel, but I think the first one has it beat. My other favorite Pixars are Up and Finding Nemo. Both are great adventure movies with the right amount of darkness or sadness, and both are extremely well-written. Don’t get me wrong though, I love The Incredibles, WALL-E, and Monsters, Inc., too. All of Pixar’s films have been at least good.

    My favorite Disney films (I can’t choose a single one) range from old to the 90s ones. The ones I like the most are Snow White (love the Dwarfs, is a masterpiece), Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, 101 Dalmations, and Tarzan (Jane is probably the sexiest Disney female character). I also love Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and Peter Pan (and to slight embarrassment, Cinderella). I remember enjoying Alice in W., too. All of them are vey good.

    If I had to pick one, though, I’d probably choose The Lion King, 101 Dalmations, Snow White, or Pinocchio.

  • Chip

    I have to add that I also enjoy “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” a lot. The Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod is one of the greatest film scenes of all time, animated or not.

  • Sean Stangland

    It was originally released under the Touchstone label, but Disney has since claimed “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as its own, and I have to say it endures as my favorite of the modern era.

    But objectively, the best of the films must be “WALL-E.”

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Personally, I’d place “Nightmare” and “Fantasia 2000” just after the top 10, replacing them with “Lilo and Stitch” and “Bolt”, and I’d place both “Tarzan” and “Aladdin” higher on the list.

    I have to say though, Very few of those I consider actually _bad_ movies. Mulan and Hercules were inconsistant, but I would still happily watch them again. Hunchback was a mess, but with some fascinating glimpses of what could have a been a powerful, darker film.

    Atlantis, though… that was just awful. That and Carry’s Christmas Carol would probably be down near the bottom,

  • amanohyo

    Dumbo

  • Dee

    Disney: Beauty and the Beast – this was probably the epitome of their work. Memorable songs, great storyline, wonderful artwork.

    Pixar: The Toy Story Franchise (the one that started Pixar down the road to great success)

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