I like Disney. I grew up with the company, and watched every one of their feature films. From canon to direct-to-video, I have seen it all. But the most important ones are the Animated Canon, 55 films that began with Snow White and ends with Zootopia (until Moana releases as film 56).
This is my personal rankings of the films. From the worst to the best. Be warned: you may be rustled.
55. Saludos Amigos (Canon #6)
Picking a weakest entry in Disney Canon was the easiest part. Easier even than picking a favorite.
This film is strange because it doesn’t really have a plot. It’s like a road trip movie without the road trip, and starring animators from Disney. We follow them as they learn about bits and pieces of South American culture, and how they animate a short inspired by their travels. We also get a Donald Duck short, a Goofy short, and the introduction of Jose Carioca, who would later make appearances in two other Disney Canon films.
But that’s it. The film is hardly interesting to watch, the shorts aren’t particularly fantastic, and the whole affair lasts about three quarters of an hour. It’s a relic of Disney’s origins that has endured somehow as a member of Canon. And because it’s stuck around this long, I doubt it will go away. But it will always have a place at the bottom of the list.
54. The Aristocats (#20)
If Saludos Amigos was easily the choice for weakest entry, The Aristocats was a shoe-in for second-worst. As a matter of fact, I think it’s the worst one.
However, since the previous film isn’t really a cohesive thing, Aristocats gets the benefit of not landing spot 55. This film follows the adventures of a family of rich cats when they get dumped out in the French countryside by a jealous butler. They’re helped out by Thomas O’Malley, an alley cat who has a thing for Duchess and eventually endears himself to her three kittens.
A product of the Disney Dark Age, there is pretty much nothing redeemable about this outing. None of the characters are particularly interesting. The villain Edgar is no where near threatening considering how inept he is. The story comes and goes and nothing feels accomplished outside the terrible resolution that Duchess’ old rich lady owner fully commits to being a crazy cat lady.
If I had to give this film one positive, the song “Everyone Wants to be a Cat” is actually pretty catchy. I can only imagine that’s how the film endured the depths of the Dark Age, and later remained relevant thanks to marketing of Marie (the only female kitten of Duchess). I’d watch Saludos Amigos at least twice in my life for the sake of history. I’d gladly go the rest of my life without seeing Aristocats again.
53. Dinosaur (#39)
Dinosaur is a strange beast. Not just because of the titular animal.
The story here takes place in the distant past, when a series of coincidences lands a dinosaur egg on an island of prehistoric monkeys. The monkeys raise the dinosaur, and after their island is torched because of a meteorite, they join with a herd of other dinosaurs looking for new nesting grounds.
What sets this film apart is not so much that it’s 3D animation (Disney’s first attempt), but that most of the scenery is actually live action. It’s an interesting thing to note, but other than that the film is forgettable. It’s also fun to point out that this wasn’t considered Canon until 2008, probably for good reason. The film is not that good. Like Aristocats before it, the plot is lacking (but better than Aristocats) and the characters painfully generic. Except one of the monkeys, who is just plain annoying in his attempts to be comic relief.
The animals are all really lousy CGI, somehow made worse by the live action surroundings they’re imposed on. I can’t really recommend this one as a watch outside those interested in seeing all the Canon.
52. Chicken Little (#46)
This is where films can actually start being recommended for viewing. Didn’t take very long, did it?
Chicken Little is Disney’s take on the classic fairy tale. The titular character causes a panic by saying the sky is falling, which only makes him the target of much ire from the rest of the town he lives in (as well as massive shame for his father). In the time that follows, it turns out there is something sinister hovering in the skies above, and it’s up to Chicken Little and his gang of misfits (Ugly Duckling, Fish-Out-of-Water, more losers of similar ilk) to save the day.
The biggest flaw with this film is the plot. It’s simple, and executed decently well, but never really does anything more than what you’d expect. Chicken Little isn’t trusted despite being right, and it’s not until it’s too late that people take him seriously. There’s a subplot about him earning his father’s respect once again, which is done fine. But again, isn’t particularly poignant or even moving. Even the jokes and romance don’t really do much; they… exist.
This film is mediocre. Painfully so.
51. Home on the Range (#45)
I suppose it should be expected that the film that nearly tanked 2D animation be placed this far down on the list.
Home on the Range is about a bunch of animals who do all they can to help their farm from being foreclosed by the bank. Leading the charge is a trio of cows, who come up with the idea to capture a wanted cattle rustler for the reward money. Hijinks ensue.
Now, I was joking before. The reason this film is so far down on the list is because like its successor (in Canon, predecessor on my list) it doesn’t really do much. It’s another decent premise, but doesn’t really go anywhere with it. Nothing ground-breaking is achieved, and the characters don’t elevate it beyond its mediocre plot.
However, this one does have nice animation and just slightly better characters than what Chicken Little delivered. I daresay even some of the visual gags and jokes made me laugh here and there. It’s a fun romp in a sense, but not something worth watching more than a couple times. And sometimes I think two viewings is too many.