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.
30. Winnie-the-Pooh (Canon #51)
It’s a shame I had to put this one as low as I did.
Winnie the Pooh lives in the Hundred Acre Wood, along with a bunch of other animal friends who are all actually children’s plush toys. The child in question is Christopher Robin, and what sets the plot in motion is when the group finds a note from Christopher that they misinterpret as a cry for help. No thanks to Owl, who claims to be able to read but clearly can’t, the group set off on a journey to save Christopher from the mysterious “Backson”.
If this all sounds eerily familiar, it should. This movie is quite frankly a retread of a direct-to-video Pooh film from 1997. Wherein Pooh finds a note from Christopher that Owl misinterprets as a cry for help that sets them off to save him from “Skull”.
And really that’s what I think hurts this film the most. I’ve seen it before almost two decades prior, and it was done better then despite a smaller budget. Sure the animation wasn’t as spiffy as it is here, but Pooh’s Grand Adventure was longer, had better music, and just felt like it made more sense somehow.
And even if it didn’t, the fact is I’d already seen this movie. So it’s a bit of a shame this was the last 2D animated film from Disney to date. And I don’t think we’ll be getting anymore any time soon.
29. Pinocchio (#2)
Pinocchio is a puppet brought to life through the sincere wish of a puppeteer who wanted a son of his own (ignoring the fact that despite looking to be in his late 60s he could still have a child the old fashioned way). The little wooden boy earns a conscience in the form of a cricket named Jiminy who just happened to be there at the time, and together they get into a LOT of trouble. Because poor Pinocchio is as gullible as you can imagine (he was just born like a day ago, and his conscience is never around when you need him).
But do I like this movie? Yes, I do.
Because despite the inconsistencies, what happens to Pinocchio along the way is pretty darn messed up. Rather than go to school, he becomes a performer for a traveling puppetmaster (who then enslaves him). He then chooses to go to a place called Pleasure Island where he never has to work and play all day (sign me up!). Turns out it was all a lie and is actually a magical place of sorts that turns kids into donkeys they then send to salt mines. And this all ends with a trip into the stomach of a massive whale to save his father.
But really of all these it’s the Pleasure Island segment that stands out the most to me. We get to see a friend of Pinocchio’s suffer what looks like physical pain as he turns into a donkey before going stark raving mad. It’s actually quite chilling to watch.
And I think Disney knows this as well. Plus, we get to see Pinocchio and his friend smoke and drink like grown men on Pleasure Island (as well as play billiards), so it’s not exactly a film they like to promote all that often. We still remember this product of the earliest years of the company because it did give us the Disney mantra: When You Wish Upon A Star.
28. Bambi (#5)
Everyone knows this story. Or at least they know the biggest shocker from it: Bambi’s mom dies. She gets shot off screen about half way through the movie. Spoilers? Nah, the film is like 70+ years old.
Other than that, what do we have left? A decently good film. We follow Bambi from birth to ascension as “Prince of the Forest”, hitting all the most important milestones of his life. But that’s about it, really. I can’t say anything more about the movie.
Watch it. It’s certainly a classic for a reason.
27. The Jungle Book (#19)
This film marked the end of Disney’s Golden Age, as it was the last film Disney worked on personally before his death.
Based so loosely off Rudyard Kipling’s work it may as well have nothing to do with it, the story follows Mowgli, a baby who was found in the middle of the jungle by a panther named Bagheera. Raised by a pack of wolves, Mowgli is told to leave the jungle and return to his people on account of Shere Khan, a tiger who has returned to these parts and is out to kill him (just because he doesn’t like humans). Guided by Bagheera, Mowgli runs into a number of colorful animals along the way before his fateful encounter with Shere Khan face to face.
The biggest strength this movie has for me is the music. A strong collection of tunes inspired by swing music (which was popular at the time) move the plot along. On top of that, the characters themselves are pretty fun, from Baloo the bear to the classy Shere Khan, everyone outshines the bratty Mowgli.
26. The Rescuers (#23)
A little girl who is somehow under the “care” of a greedy shop owner seeks help, and does so by dropping a message in a bottle into the river where she’s being held. Somewhere in the middle of a swamp, and the bottle ends up in New York where a United Nations of mice accept the request. How did that bottle get from what I assume was Louisiana all the way NORTH to New York City?
This plot hole aside, it’s a Hungarian mouse named Bianca that takes on the mission. Traveling with her is Bernard, a janitor who rubs Bianca the right way upon meeting her and thus tags along. What follows is a minor mystery of sorts until they find the girl Penny, who is being used by her guardian Madame Medusa to locate a massive diamond known as the Devil’s Eye. Together the mice work with local wildlife to save the girl and stop Madame Medusa.
What I like most about this movie is how dark and dreary everything is. We are in the middle of a swamp after all, and even during the day everything around us has this layer of disgusting filth on it that makes me not want to be anywhere near the place. There’s no music to it, but it lasts just as long as it has to and never drags. I suppose this is where my favorites begin, as I have fond memories of the movie moreso than any of the ones that came before it on my list.