John’s Disney Movie Countdown: Part 2

In Part 1 of John’s Disney Movie Countdown, I counted down the flat-out bad, the not-bad-at-all, and the rather enjoyable Disney Canon films. These three groups of films (in my opinion, anyway) got us from #54 down to #31.

In Part 2, we have, in essence, a Top 30 countdown. No longer do we need to make mention of bad films, hit-n-miss jokes, and uneven storytelling. Each of these films likely will have a loyal following, and even #30 on the list can be considered a legitimate classic in many circles. And it only gets better and better from there. So let’s get started, shall we?

Group #4: “On a scale of one to ten, YOU are an eleven!”

Or maybe the title should be, “Two thumbs WAY, way up!” Regardless of which title is better, the point is that with each film in this group, I found myself thoroughly entertained, and I would eagerly recommend any of them to a friend to check out. If I have any criticisms at all, they are very, very minor. 

30. The Rescuers (1977)

The one Disney film to really have Don Bluth’s fingerprints all over it stands out for me as a special and unique film. It stood as the transition film from the old generation of artists and animators to the new, and raked in tons of money over the years. I ignored it for years, but I’m not about to let that happen again anytime soon.

Orville flights

29. 101 Dalmatians (1961)

I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to the Blu-ray release of 101 Dalmations. Here’s to over 6 million pristine, high-definition spots!

28. Mulan (1998)

27. Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Disney’s Silver Age will do no worse than #27 on my list. Such was the strength of the 1950’s decade for Disney. Alice in Wonderland is a curious creation, for sure, but its wacky characters, memorable dialogue, and Mary Blair artwork is more than enough to win me over.

photo(72)

26. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Disney recovered quite nicely from the financial distress caused by The Black Cauldron. The Great Mouse Detective is a simpler tale, but it is very effective storytelling and zips along quite nicely. And yes, it has a “throw lettuce and tomatoes at the stage performer” scene, so there are some bonus points right there.

25. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

When I watched this one during my project, I wondered just how high its ceiling would go if I made a ranking. Well, #25 is my official answer. By far the best of the Disney package films, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad just gets things right with its zany Mr. Toad segment and the spooky Halloween classic rendition of Sleepy Hollow.

photo(52)

24. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

It’s Disney animation with classic video games weaved into it. What’s not to like about that? Nothing, that’s what.

23. Winnie the Pooh (2011)

22. The Jungle Book (1967)

Here’s another classic that stuck to the basics and was all the better for it. The Jungle Book doesn’t do anything too fancy, but it still manages to be a showcase of fun music, excellent characters, and great animation.

Louie

21. Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Meet the Robinsons to me must be the most pleasantly surprising films of the Disney Canon when I first watched it. After the mid-2000’s fiasco, my expectations of Disney movies were very low. Meet the Robinsons greatly exceeded those expectations. Plus, the movie is full of the quirky humor I love.

20. Peter Pan (1953)

19. Robin Hood (1973)

Ah, Robin Hood. The once-and-always favorite of my family continues to entertain even after many, many repeat viewing over the years. To me, Robin Hood will always be a red fox, and Little John will be a brown version of Baloo.

oo-de-lally

18. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

If you’d asked me a few years ago to make a Disney rankings, I can assure you that The Hunchback of Notre Dame would be nowhere near this high on the list. It probably would have been found somewhere in group two. The Hunchback of Notre Dame has to win the award for largest jump in my rankings as a result of my project. It is colorful, dramatic, energetic, and has important life’s lessons to teach, as well. This is a great film in my book, gargoyles and all.

outcast

17. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

If I was impressed by Disney’s Silver Age being fully contained in my top 30, then count me doubly impressed with Disney’s Golden Age of animated films. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is almost eighty years old now, but somehow still manages to stay relevant, and not only for being the one that started it all. Walt Disney knew what he was doing when he strove for timeless storytelling. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is timeless entertainment.

16. Frozen (2013)

Another movie I was curious where I’d actually put it if I were to create an official rankings is Frozen. My rough estimates had it “probably in the top 20.” Turns out my gut was right, as Frozen lands confidently in that range to #16. Of course, Disney probably doesn’t care as much about where its fans place Frozen in the Canon ranks as they do with where it ended up financially. It is now over a year later and Disney is still capitalizing on the Frozen fever.

teenage angst

15. Aladdin (1992)

At first glance, you might call me crazy for Aladdin getting ranked above Frozen. Maybe it is a crazy thing to do. Perhaps it is the fact that Aladdin dominated my childhood. Or maybe its the better overall collection of characters and slightly superior sense of humor. I don’t know why I like it more. I just do. A little, at least.

Whole new World

The young kids these days have “Let It Go” to sing all day. We had “A Whole New World.”

14. Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch is another film that benefitted from my project and leaped several spots in my rankings. It is also another film with quirky humor and lots of heart.

13. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

This was perhaps the most difficult decision I faced in these rankings. Does Lady and the Tramp belong in group #4 or group #5? It is an incredibly well-made film, and I absolutely love it. But I didn’t really want my final category to have 13 films (arbitrary, I know), so Lady and the Tramp just misses the cut by a nose. However, as a consolation, I will hereby dub Lady and the Tramp “Best romantic comedy ever made about non-humans.”

Of course I'm going to include the spaghetti scene. It is an icon of Hollywood.

Of course I’m going to include the spaghetti scene. It is an icon of Hollywood.

And with that, Part 2 of John’s Disney Movie Countdown is complete. My Group 4 is jam-packed with 18 excellent Disney Canon films. As I alluded to in Part 1, I am amazed at the consistent high quality of all these Disney films through the decades. It is a tremendous track record to have when you can say “sure, there’s a top 30, but in reality every one of them comes highly recommended.” We haven’t even got to the final group!

Speaking of which, this leaves us now with only 12 more films to rank. And that will be happening very soon in Part 3 of my countdown. I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Week 51: Winnie the Pooh

A Delightful Return to the 100 Acre Wood

happy ending

Originally Released: 2011

Winnie the Pooh is like coming home after a long vacation. It just has that comfortable, familiar feel to it. That is how I best describe Disney’s 2011 release and the 51st film in the Disney canon.

As I mentioned in my thoughts on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, back in the 60’s and 70’s, Pooh Bear still hadn’t caught hold in the hearts and minds of American children. Indeed, Walt Disney’s efforts can be thanked for that. But now that we are here in the 2010’s, it is very rare to find somebody who isn’t familiar with Pooh, Tigger, and the rest of the gang. They have been engrained into the very fabric of American society, no doubt helped along by countless spinoffs and television series, merchandise, books, and more that has been pushed by the Mouse Machine.

we need Hunny!

Just as Pooh’s prescription is more hunny, Disney has not been shy to push more and more Pooh on the masses throughout the years.

There has been so much Pooh over the years that it would be very easy to simply dismiss Winnie the Pooh as another pre-school cash-in attempt by Disney. However, when I heard that this was another one of John Lasseter’s “babies” and that he wanted to reach into the original books and recapture the spirit of the original film, I realized this film had some potential. And in my opinion, it delivers on that promise in spades. It may not have made much money in the end, but that should not diminish its worth as a Disney classic.

tigger still is great

That Harry Potter, I’ll pounce the guy! No, Tigger, no you won’t…

[Small side rant time: you can blame the geniuses in the Disney marketing department for thinking Winnie the Pooh was somehow a “Summer Blockbuster” and releasing it on the same day as the grand finale of the Harry Potter film series – yeah, like that was going to end well! This movie screams “Christmastime release,” and how they managed to kill its profit potential from the get-go by releasing it next to Harry Potter – only to be followed by Captain America the very next week – is truly baffling. There is an interesting theory laid out by my friends over at Rediscovering the Magic with Rick and Friends – check it out. I kind of believe their theory on this one.]

So back to the feeling of coming home. To illustrate this point, I’ve decided to look back at my review of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and look at specific points I made as to why I love that movie, and see if they still apply to this new adventure in the 100 Acre Wood.

whoops owl

Point #1: The collection of characters. 

In my thoughts on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, I said “There is such a variety of personalities on display here, and each character plays extremely well off of the others.”  This is still very much the case, and each character has its flaws on full display in Winnie the Pooh. In fact, I’d say that they are even more pronounced in the 2011 film than they were back in the original film, which is a great thing. Tigger is exhuberant as ever, Owl is still a know-it-all, and so forth. These characters are classics, and they continue on with their lovable traits here. Most importantly, though, their friendship still outweighs whatever flaws each character may have, and they manage to band together as a team and show a good example to children everywhere.

honey honey honey

Point #2: The storybook aspect

I loved the way the original film let you read along with the action and had characters interacting with words and letters on the page, hopping from one illustration to the next, and conversing with the narrator. This tradition is still very much the case in Winnie the Pooh. And it still causes me to smile and laugh.

cliche but still works

Point #3: The sense of humor and witty wordplay

The sense of humor, especially the wordplay, was probably my favorite thing about The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I imagine this would be the most difficult thing to replicate, because humor is a very tricky thing, especially since several decades have passed from one film to the next. Yet to my delight, Winnie the Pooh delivers the smiles and the laughs, and manages to include the witty wordplay of the original film. The exchange between Owl, Pooh, and Eeyore about “issue vs. Achoo,” Piglet and his “not/knot” and, of course, the problems with reading/spelling leading to the Backson are all great and quite funny.

To me, Winnie the Pooh isn’t so much a sequel as it is an extension of the adventures in the 100 Acre Wood, with all its charm. If you ignore the obvious changes in animation technology, the widescreen presentation, and other advancements, I think you really could include Winnie the Pooh as an additional story in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and not really miss a beat. Winnie the Pooh has the consistency with the original where it counts the most. Winnie the Pooh feels like home.

the gang

bakson

welcome back