Zootopia (2016)

No, this movie isn’t out on DVD yet. This is actually the first movie I feel like I have to review before I own it. For a few reasons:

  1. I’m leaving Disney and well, this is Disney. It fits in here and I’ll do it here.
  2. This movie pertains to SO MUCH going on right now in The U.S. and the world. I really want to bash this movie over everyone’s heads.

I will start by saying that I have been excited about this movie since I heard it existed. Why? Because Lasseter was excited about it when it was pitched to him. And we all know I believe Lasseter = Disney God.

I was also excited because it joins a handful of other Disney movies that do NOT feature humans (the others being Bambi, Robin Hood, The Lion King, and Chicken Little). Also excited because it was said to be a mystery, and existed in a land where animals weren’t just anthropomorphic but maintained their animal adaptations and habitats. As a biology person who loves mysteries, I was EXCITED.

Needless to say there are SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t seen the movie yet. It goes a little something like this (go with me as I’ve only seen it once and this is liable to be a LONG synopsis):

We open and get to know one of our main characters, Judy Hopps. She’s a kid in a talent show giving us the history of the land we’re in. Apparently predators used to eat prey but they’ve since evolved and now they live side by side. We also learn that Judy wants to become a cop in Zootopia, a feat which has never been accomplished by a rabbit before. Her parents (who are hilarious, btw) tell her to settle and just be a carrot farmer, but she has higher dreams.

We also see her get bullied by a fox named Gideon, which leads to her parents not trusting foxes. Then we’re thrown into a montage showing her living her dream and becoming the first rabbit ever to go through the police academy and assigned in Zootopia city center as part of Mayor Lionheart’s Mammal inclusion program. Except… Chief Bogo puts her on Meter maid duty while all the other cops are assigned to missing mammal cases (14 in total. This will be important later, I promise).

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Not willing to let it get her down, Judy gives herself the goal of writing 200 tickets before noon, which she hits before getting conned by a fox and his partner (a fennec fox) posing as a father and son wanting to buy a popsicle from a pachyderm establishment. She helps them out only to learn through following them that they melt the larger popsicle down into smaller ones to sell and make a profit (again… will be important later). She confronts him, but it doesn’t go well, and he shuts her down.

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It’s pretty good con, using a Fennec Fox as a kid.

Later she’s busy meter maid-ing when a weasel runs out of a grocery store, having robbed the place. She gets excited and pursues him until he is arrested, only to learn that he stole onions. Bogo is not happy she left her post and is ready to fire her when Mrs. Otterton comes into his office begging for someone to help her find her husband, Emmett (Emmet Otter… anyone? anyone?). Judy agrees much to Bogo’s dismay, and with the assistant Mayor Bellweather in the room, he can’t tell her she can’t. So he gives her 48 hours to find Mr. Otterton or she relinquishes her badge.

Upon getting the case file from front desk man Clawhauser (who I swore was Josh Gad for the entire movie only to learn it wasn’t…) she only has a single picture from his last known location. However, upon noticing he is carrying one of the popsicles the fox who conned her was selling, she has a starting point.

So she finds that fox, whose name is Nick, and pretty much blackmails him into helping her.

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Luckily he knows everyone in the city and through his reluctant help, they track Mr. Otterton’s whereabouts to a completely clawed up limousine. After speaking with the owner of the Limo (I won’t spoil who it belongs to), he sends them to the driver, who talks about how Mr. Otterton went all “savage” and began destroying the inside of the car after he started talking about something called the “night howler.” Judy and Nick then watch as before their eyes the driver too turns savage and they must escape.

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I would run from that too!

She calls for backup, but of course when backup, including Bogo, gets there, the savage panther driver that she had handcuffed is no longer there.

Bogo is disappointed in Judy and tells her to hand in her badge, as obviously she could not produce Mr. Otterton (and quite honestly, he doesn’t believe her about the savage story.) This is the moment Nick has a change of heart and pretty much tells Bogo off, telling him that they still have 10 hours to produce Mr. Otterton, and they will be going.

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With Nick on board completely, Judy has Assistant Mayor Bellweather pull up the traffic cams only to find that a van came by and wolves came and took the savage driver. Assuming these are the “night howlers,” they track them to a facility to find all 14 of the missing mammals. They are all savage (and all predators – that’s important too), and the Mayor has been trying to figure out what went wrong and how to get them back to normal, but no one can figure it out (this is all discovered covertly, of course). Judy sends a video of Mayor Lionheart admitting he kept the police out of it to Bogo, who goes on to arrest Lionheart.

Judy becomes a hero and respected at the police office for finding all of the missing mammals, and when they interview her, she gets a bit flustered on how to answer the questions (despite some coaching from Nick) and begins to quote what the scientist in the facility told Lionheart – that it might come down to biology and the fact that predators are hard-wired this way. Obviously this interview has some fallout. Nick can’t believe that she believes that and leaves her. Animals begin to suspect predators will turn “savage” at any moment. Lionheart is removed from office and Bellweather becomes Mayor. She in turn wants Judy to become the new face of the ZPD, to which Judy declines and turns in her badge bc this isn’t why she became a police officer, and she needs to fix this.

She returns home, where she learns through a random encounter that a “night howler” is not a wolf, but a plant (a flower actually) that will turn anyone savage – even a rabbit. With this new information, she heads back to Zootopia, finds Nick and begs forgiveness, then they’re off to find out who’s behind the plot and who’s been causing the animals to turn savage.

I’m actually going to end it here because, well, I can’t give away everything!

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so OMG this movie. How how how did they do this?

This movie is about prejudice. It’s about race and discrimination. It’s about feminism and judging people based on what they look like or do, not what they are. AND IT MAKES SENSE TO KIDS. AND IT DOES IT WELL.

This movie should belong to Pixar. Because it takes this incredibly deep message and tackles it head-on without looking back or being sorry its doing it. And it succeeds. It succeeds without bashing it over a person’s head because this is just how things work in this world. It makes sense in the world that is so unlike ours but yet… it is… so… much… like… ours.

The elephant refusing service to Nick and his partner in the beginning because he’s a fox. Discriminating against Judy because she’s a rabbit and not “big enough” to be a real cop. Nick’s entire backstory (omg i’m going to tear up). The whole thing with “only rabbits can call each other cute. When someone else says it it’s…”

Predators being affected and targeted by the Night Howler to instill fear in the general public, which we’re told is 90% prey animals. Suddenly they can’t go anywhere and do anything. They’re judged simply for being who they are. Hmm, sound familiar to a certain issue we’re all dealing with right now with syrian refugees and religious fear (not to mention the more domestic racism this country deals with on an everyday level)??

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Zootopia is a movie that starts out saying “Sly fox, dumb bunny,” but in the end it’s really about how to break those stereotypes. Judy and Nick do it. “It’s a place where anyone can be anything.”

Let’s talk about our characters for a bit. There are a lot so I am really just going to focus on our two main characters, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde.

We’re in a day and age at Disney where female characters really are capable of doing anything. We saw that in Frozen, Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, and we see that again in Zootopia. Judy doesn’t care about what rabbits “should” do. She just knows what she wants to do, and puts her mind to it and accomplishes it. She’s strong, brave, smart, and sly enough to outwit many characters she comes in contact with.

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She’s from a podunk little town where everyone has the same beliefs…. and the same prejudices. Her parents don’t trust foxes. They even give her fox repellant when she leaves for the city. She has a bad experience with Gideon (a fox) as a kid, and so of course has this preconceived notion as to what foxes are like. But even we can see in the beginning that she’s trying to fight that and be impartial. She tries to help Nick and his partner in the beginning almost to prove to herself that not all foxes are horrible. Of course this backfires, as he is what she thought, until she gets to really know him (but more on that later).

Judy is voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, who I think was a great choice. She’s got a naivety to her but a very can-do attitude and the ability to talk circles. I LOVE that they use a rabbit’s natural adaptations of good hearing, speed and jumping to her advantage. I also love that through Judy we almost get a lesson as to how Cops are supposed to behave. She has this picture in her mind about what being a cop in Zootopia is going to be like, and, well… it doesn’t turn out the way she wants it to. When she’s asked to be the face of the ZPD and turns it down, she does so because she says she was brought in to help all people, and this would be turning her back on some of them. That that’s not what cops do (or something like this… I’m not quoting obviously). It’s another interesting (and timely, in the U.S.) lesson that Disney chose to stick in there quickly.

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Also, if the whole story about Judy doesn’t correspond to “women can do and be anything,” you’re just not paying attention to this movie.

Now let’s talk about Nick. He’s voiced by Jason Bateman who honestly I’m surprised took this long to voice a Disney character. I’m a fan of Bateman, especially Arrested Development, and I was excited to hear him. He does pretty well giving Nick a layer of sass and confidence that gets stripped away as the movie goes.

I’m going to give away his backstory, so if you want it a surprise… well, skip the next few paragraphs. Whereas Judy has been fighting her stereotypes her whole life to become a cop, Nick gave in to his. The only thing he ever wanted was to become a scout:

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Seriously cute

But then just as he gets an invite, he’s bullied and tormented as a kid by prey animals who said they would “never let a predator” into their scout group without a muzzle. They attack and muzzle him, humiliating him and disillusioning him in that one action with how the world really is and how predators really are seen and treated. So… he became what society wanted him to be. He became the sly fox. The con artist.

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Look how suave he is.

Is this who he really is? No. But no one ever gives him a chance to be who he’s capable of being until Judy comes along. And not even that. In the beginning when she is blackmailing him he continues to be suave, and purposefully sabotaging her investigation because, well, he thinks she’s just a dumb bunny. But then there’s the scene where they lose the savage limo driver and Bogo tells her to hand in her badge, and that she wasn’t cut out for this. In that moment, he understands. This is her moment of humiliation and disillusion that he had when he was a kid. And he’s not going to let that happen to her. In that moment, he understands that they are more alike than different. Neither of them are like their stereotypes.

Their relationship is one of the things that makes this movie so special. This is one of the few Disney movies where there really isn’t a romantic relationship central to the story, and this movie really excels BECAUSE of this. Judy and Nick have a friendship that ends up based on acceptance. Is it perfect? no. But they understand each other, and their chemistry is great.

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This is near the very end of the movie. Yeah that carrot pen is more important than you’d think

I’m not going to go into great detail, but a lot of the other side characters are great. Clawhauser (Nate Torrence – Not Josh Gad…) is the bumbling but sweet front desk cop with a love for all things “Gazelle” (a singer in Zootopia) Chief Bogo (Idris Elba… apparently he is just voicing Disney characters now)  is firm but you kinda get he’s not exactly the smartest guy in the world. We’ve got Flash the sloth, mayor Lionheart, and others to round out our cast. None of them are really that blah. They’re all funny or needed. And the jokes are good, so we’ll keep them.

But then there’s Judy’s parents (Don Lake and Bonnie Hunt), who definitely (IMO) steal the supportive character show with probably all of 10 minutes (if that) on screen. They have some of the best lines and the banter back and forth and with Judy is comic gold. How they have time to spend with one of their 389 (or something) children is beyond me, but hey, they must be awesome parents, or she must be their favorite.

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The last character I want to talk about is the villain. That being said, there are major SPOILERS ahead. I’ve kept it major spoiler free for the most part so far, but I really can’t discuss this without naming names. You have been warned.

I’ll admit it. I should have seen it coming. Disney is sort of getting into a rut with their villains these days. It’s always the person you least expect. King Candy (or Turbo), Hans, Robert Callaghan. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad way to do it (and i’m all for twists in movies), but… let’s just say in Moana I’m going to assume the bad guy is really someone who early in the movie was thought of as good.

Case in point: Bellweather. Criminal mastermind.

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In a lot of ways, it makes sense. She’s a smaller animal that feels disrespected and undervalued not only in her job but I’m sure her life. She makes jokes about it almost the entire movie, and tells Judy more than once that “us little guys gotta stick together.”She works for a lion and thus has a underlying hatred towards predators. Whereas Judy is our character who tries to defy her stereotype and Nick was one who sank into his, Bellweather represents the person who got mad at her stereotype. She blames everyone who’s not like her for the way things are and the way she’s treated, gets mad, and seeks revenge. She views the predators as having some type of edge on the world and in her mind they are the “villains” for always putting the little guys last. In her mind, she’s freeing the world from their tyranny.

I’ll come right out and say it. Bellweather is a terrorist. She uses the Night Howler to create fear and panic in the city and targets a specific group, the predators. As she says, they are in the minority (Zootopia is 90% prey animals), so the majority should go along with her, right?

Except she doesn’t speak for all the small animals, just as those savage night-howler predators don’t speak for their kind. Terrorists (as we’ve learned from our real life experiences) are typically in the minority of whatever group they come from. They don’t represent their group as a whole. And this is another thing this movie shows us.

Seriously. This movie just gets smarter and smarter the more I think about it.

Alright enough on characters. I want to talk about not only how great this animation is but OMG the world they created is unbelievable!

They could have easily just made this a busy metropolis with no character. A “look at the animals that live in a city like us” thing. But they didn’t. Instead, they took the idea of neighborhoods like in NYC and designed the city based on how animals would design it. We have Sahara square, where all the desert animals live. We have Tundra town, and the Rainforest District. And each is a different habitat, and animated beautifully. I can’t begin to tell you how brilliant and creative this is. Again. This is the kind of thing we typically expect from Pixar.

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I really wish we could have seen more of it. We got to the Rainforest District and got to see a bit of Tundratown, but I want to see all of it! Again, am I the only one wishing for a Zootopia 2?

The only other thing I’m going to say about this movie is that it is (unsurprisedly?) chock full of references. Some are extremely apparent, some are incredibly subtle (I suggest going to youtube and searching for “Zootopia Easter Eggs” if you’re curious – there are way too many to put down here). Some had me laughing so incredibly hard, some my husband didn’t catch (or didn’t know about) and some we both went “Did they really just do that in a Disney movie?”

A few of my favorites that are pretty blatant:

  • The Character of Emmett Otterton. Come on. Obviously a play on “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas (both the book and the more well known muppet adaptation)
  • The weasel that steals from the grocery store in the beginning then holds the key to uncovering the villain at the end’s name is Duke Weaselton, obviously a play on the Duke of Wesselton from Frozen. Not only is he voiced by the same person (The ever awesome Alan Tudyk), but they actually call him “wesselton” in Zootopia and he corrects them “It’s Weaselton.” hahaha.
  • The Godfather reference in Tundratown. Classic.
  • And of course, the Breaking bad reference. I haven’t even seen the show but even I knew when they got in that rail car and saw the blue flowers that they were going for that. Even better when there was a knock on the door and voices go “It’s Walter and Jesse.” 10 points for Disney for that one.

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  • Also anyone notice Mrs. Otterton has the same coloring as Rapunzel from Tangled? and Nick looked an awful lot like Robin Hood?

Like I said, there’s a ton of other references. But those were some of my favorites.

This movie is… well, it’s awesome. I could probably go on and on about it and it’s pertinence to the world today, but I really don’t want to turn this into a political or incredibly depressing post. The point is that this movie teaches about prejudice, judgements, and in it’s 3 more important characters represents what happens with each road you decide to take. It’s got some amazing visuals, unforgettable characters, incredible heart and some quick wit and hilarious jokes. This movie requires more viewing by me to determine where it falls on my Disney list, but I’d be safe to say it’s probably at least in my top 10-15.

I give Zootopia (2016) a 4.5 out of 5. Solid entertainment.

Up Next: Toy Story (1995)

 

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Enchanted (2007)

I feel like I can’t move out of Disney Animation without reviewing this movie first. Half animated, half live action, I could have stuck it with when I review classics like Mary Poppins and Pete’s Dragon, but it just won’t fit as well there. So I’m putting it here.

When I saw the first trailer for this movie, my first thought was “Oh God that looks AWFUL.” It looked like a horrible mix of rehashed Disney movie and RomCom with way too much strangeness. I figured there’d be horrible songs and it would be campy as hell. So needless to say I didn’t go see it. Instead, I let it pass in the theaters, then I kept hearing people talk about it and how funny and great it was. Three (I think?) of the songs were up for an academy award. And that got me to thinking “hmm, maybe this movie isn’t as weird/campy as I thought? I’ll give it a watch.”

And I. Loved. It.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear about this movie. It IS campy. It IS weird. It IS a weird mix of Disney movie and RomCom. And somehow… it works at being incredibly charming.

Our movie starts in Animation, in the fictional land of Andalasia. A beautiful Maiden named Giselle dreams of finding her true love, and will know so based on their first kiss. Meanwhile, Prince Edward is hunting trolls and hears Giselle singing and must go find her. He rescues her from a troll, they sing together and are ready to be married. But just before the wedding, Prince Edward’s stepmother, Queen Narissa, pushes Giselle down a well that transports her to Life-action land and NYC.

Trying to figure out where she is and cope and get back to Edward, Giselle and her Naivety are taken pity on by Robert and his daughter (ok at this point mostly his daughter) Morgan. They take her back to their condo and Robert allows her to stay the night.

Meanwhile, Giselle’s chipmunk friend Pip tells Edward what happened, and he heads to Real-world land to find Giselle, along with Queen Narissa’s Henchman Nathaniel, who is tasked with making sure he doesn’t find her.

Hijinks ensue as both parties deal with being in the real world, and slowly Giselle and Robert bond. Giselle and Edward are eventually reunited, but at this point she has changed immensely from having learned about the real world, but still agrees to go back to Andalasia after going on “A date.”

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Aka: let’s do everything touristy in New York!

This date culminates with a dance, in which Queen Narissa, after losing faith in Nathaniel, shows herself in the real world and poisons Giselle. After attempting to bring her back to life and failing, Edward realizes her true love is Robert. He kisses her and brings her back to life. Upset, Queen Narissa turns into a dragon,and fights not Edward but Giselle at the top of the building. She wins, the dragon plummets to the ground, Giselle stays with Robert, Roberts Fiance goes to Andalasia with Edward, and no one in NYC seems to pay any attention

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This movie could have so easily been awful. It has a lot of Homages to classic Disney movies, it has a lot of strangeness, and it pretty much makes fun of the Disney way of thinking about love. But. It. Works.

Here’s why:

Disney took itself seriously, as did every single actor and actress that worked on this movie. You can tell that although they are making fun of Disney EVERYTHING (songs, falling in love at first sight, true loves kiss, etc) they also LOVE these things.

And that, my friends, is why this works as a perfect parody. It’s the same reason Mel Brooks Parodies are good, and all those “not another [insert type of movie here]” movies are horrible. Mel loves his source material. To truly do a good parody, you need to also love the thing you are making fun of. Everything has something “wrong” with it if you look close enough. parodies are meant to poke fun of these things. But with love.

Another reason this movie works is the actors. Amy Adams in the multiple years after this movie has come out has established herself as an A-list actor, appearing in a huge range of films and having an oscar nomination out of it. But back in 2007, I knew her as “that girl that had that small part in Catch me if you Can.”

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Yeah… that’s really her.

Amy Adams OWNS Giselle. She is essentially playing a Disney princess who gets disillusioned by real life. But instead of being depressed about everything that isn’t the way she thinks it should be, she instead takes the differences of the real world and tries to impress upon Robert that you can act crazy and romantic and it will work. That women like that (clue to guys: they really do!!). She injects a little bit of Disney simple life into the real world in the same way that he injects some real world onto her. As the movie progresses she becomes much more realistic but still holds onto that bubbly personality that believes in true love and happy endings and that singing will make you happy. She has this child-like Naivety that I think we all wish we had.**

I would also like to give a shout out to the costume and hair people who did an amazing job helping Giselle make this transition from “cartoon” to “more realistic.” I mean, they took her from this:

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To this:

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Kudos. This helps mirror her inner changes 🙂

On the flip side we have Robert. He is an “actual” adult. He has a job, responsibilities, is working on keeping a relationship afloat, and has been left by his wife and forced to become a single parent to his daughter, who he is trying to teach can be anything and can be confident and powerful.

You could argue that Robert teaching his daughter to be confident and that she can be anything is almost negated by the fact that a “princess” shows up and plays into all of her fantasies, but I think that’s almost the point of this movie. Confidence comes in a lot of different ways. You just have to be confident in yourself and what you believe. And Giselle is. She doesn’t care she’s walking around New York City in a dress made from curtains. She isn’t embarrassed to start singing in the middle of central park. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks because she is confident.

On the other hand, Robert acts how many of us would act given the circumstance. He doesn’t want to help her. He wants her to only stay a night then leave. You can almost sense that he thinks this woman is on drugs (he does tell his daughter Morgan to sleep in his room that night). He is a down to earth, serious adult.

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How most of us would react if someone randomly starting singing in the middle of Central Park

In the same way that he changes her and makes her become more realistic (all while maintaining really who she is deep down), she changes him to see some of the “magic” and “fun” that can be had, even as an adult. This is the best message in this movie. Adults, sometimes it’s ok to be silly, sing at the top of your lungs, and believe in fairy tales and true love. It’s ok to let your kids be kids and love Princesses. There will be plenty of time to teach them about empowered women, but what exactly is “empowerment”? Like I said before, as long as someone is confident, I don’t see the difference.

Our side characters are a bit hit or miss for me honestly. James Marsden plays Edward, and you can tell he is having a blast with this role. He’s crazy and over the top. He’s really stuck in Andalasia and unlike Giselle has no want or ability to change. But man is he fun to watch. Same goes for our little animal sidekick (who doesn’t talk during the majority of the movie but is fun to watch all the same)

The same goes for Nancy, Robert’s Fiance (Idina Menzel). First of all, I love Idina, but she plays this part kinda wooden. Maybe that’s the point. But she’s a woman who wants all this fairy tale stuff and isn’t getting it with Robert. by the end of the movie she’s better suited for life in Andalasia, and that’s where she goes, to live out her fantasy and live Happily ever after.

Our villains Narissa and Nathaniel are complete Disney Tropes, but again, you can tell that  Susan Sarandon and Timothy Spall (who is typecast here as he always seems to be) are having a blast in their rolls. I was a bit disappointed that they couldn’t think of a villain more original than a wicked witch/Maleficent hybrid, but eh. I will say, however, that I kinda loved it that they gave Nathaniel a bit of motivation for always doing Narissa’s bidding. I also loved that he realized as the movie went on that he was being used and the relationship wasn’t exactly “healthy.” It’s an interesting way to go in delving into the motivation behind why bad henchmen follow the bad guy, and although I could take or leave Nathaniel’s character, I enjoyed that aspect of it.

The songs in this movie are almost, again, “typical” Disney songs, but they are enjoyable. I like to think that this movie, not The Princess and the Frog, was actually the one to herald back the era of Disney musicals that I missed oh so much. The songs do what they’re supposed to do, and are a bit forgettable to be honest. Although I have a personal affinity towards “so close” (the “single” – totally not a disney song…) and “That’s how you know.” That song is just so freaking adorable, and we’d all act completely like Robert in that song…

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The “I’m doing it because you’re making me” look

All in all, Enchanted (2007) is an enjoyable Parody that exists on its own as a relatively enjoyable, albeit campy movie. If you try to think too much while you’re watching it, it won’t be enjoyable. So just get yourself to believe in fairy tales for an hour and a half, and you won’t be disappointed.

I give Enchanted (2007) a 3.7 out of 5

**I totally have a friend like Giselle. I love her to death because through everything she hasn’t given up on anything. She reminds me to stay happy no matter what. We all need a friend like that and I think this is most of the reason I love this movie…

Up Next: Zootopia (2016) BC I can.

 

Underrated Disney Movies

I love me my underrated Disney movies. In some ways, a lot of these have found their way to the top of my personal list. But I guess before I delve into my list of underrated Disney movies, what exactly constitutes one?

Well first off, an underrated movie doesn’t make the entire world go see it. You won’t see any Frozen or Lion King on this list. These are movies that are extremely good but maybe didn’t do too well at the Box office. They might have still made a profit (or maybe they didn’t). These are movies that have gotten pushed to the wayside for differing reasons. They’re the movies that when you say them, people go “wait, what movie now? Disney did that?” or maybe people know about them, but thought they’d be bad, so they never went to go see them.

These are movies that I think are gems. They are movies that might teach a unique lesson. I actually LIKE the fact that half of these movies never garnered a huge audience and got hugely popular. These movies I think are deeper than your typical Disney flare: they have something about them that makes them incredibly special that maybe not everyone saw.

Some of these movies were easy to come up with, and others weren’t. t do have to say that a lot of these are prone to ME thinking they’re underrated. Especially the newer ones on the list. It’s possible I didn’t see them as popular as they really were at the time. Some of the newer ones are ones I believe will possibly fall to the wayside in years to come. If they have a question mark (?) by their entry, I was hesitant in adding them but will try my hardest to explain why I think they are underrated.

You will also notice this is not a “Disney movies people forget exist” list. I didn’t include The rescuers, Oliver & Co, or even The Sword and the Stone. While these are good movies, they don’t have that special something that I think these other movies have.

These are in chronological order…. not in any other type of order…

Let’s go!

1. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

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I think everyone in the world should watch this movie right now. It teaches tolerance in a way kids can understand. It’s from Disney’s “Dark Ages” but it really is a gem. It preaches its lesson by not preaching, but instead getting viewers to fall in love with two adorable characters and then watch them grow up and we see the first hand effect on what cultural norms can do to change a person (or in this case, animal). It has some incredibly memorable moments, action, adventure, and laughs. I’m not going to justify why this is underrated. It just is because movies that can teach the lesson that it does in the way that it does are few and far between. And I bet the only people who really love this movie and know about it nowadays are the people who were a) kids when it came out, or b) kids when it came out on VHS for the first time. I’m the latter.

2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

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My personal favorite Disney movie is also one that people (and the studio – where’s my blu-ray diamond edition special release??) not only forget about, but don’t seem to want to watch. It’s “too dark” or “too adult” for kids. I’m sorry, but this movie came out when I was a kid (11 years old to be exact), and I’m here to tell you it has always been a favorite of mine. It takes a hard story and makes it reachable for kids to understand. It takes incredibly complex ideas such as hatred and damnation and lusts and intolerance and somehow spells it out so that kids understand. It doesn’t patronize them. Instead, it admits that kids CAN understand this stuff, and should. It treats its viewers like adults. It has amazing music, animation, and characters that are some of the best (minus the gargoyles…).

3. Treasure Planet (2002)

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You can blame the advertising and styling for this one. No one saw it because it was “different” for Disney. And it is, and you know what, I think you do have to just kinda go with the flow a bit with this movie and say “ok, that’s an anthropomorphic cat-human-thing.” But this movie is superb and way underrated because it’s a) the best adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and b) We get some of the best relationships in a disney movie EVER in this one between Jim and Silver. Plus, it’s a Disney movie where the bad guy turns out good(ish). Whether you like it or not is up to you, but it’s on my list because I would watch it over and over just to see the characters.

4. Lilo & Stitch (2002)

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Ok, this might be my first stretch. Because I know there was a TV show and direct to movie sequels, but I still didn’t feel like people went to see this movie. I feel like no one ever talks about it except to say how cute Stitch is. If that’s all they took away from this movie, those people need to watch it again. I was in High school when this came out, so maybe that’s why I get the feeling this wasn’t a huge movie for Disney. I wasn’t the age when all my friends might have been obsessed with it. (although I did have huge Disney fan friends…).

Again this movie suffered from what I’m going to call the “strangeness” factor. It has Aliens and Hawaii. Not typical fanfare for Disney. But this movie is SO much more. It’s about belonging and family and what constitutes a family and that family is important and you’d do anything for them. It’s letting kids know that ALL types of families are good, and we have almost REAL people and REAL situations (except the alien part). Sister trying to scramble and provide and grow up after parents die? Check. Messed up little girl suffering from something after her parents die? check. realistic sister relationship? check. This movie has so much heart. It just chose to explore it in a strange way.

5. Brother Bear (2003)

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I know a LOT of people that don’t like this movie, and i know I’m in the minority of people that actually might possibly call it a favorite. BUT… let me explain why it’s here on the list (it’s not because it’s strictly a favorite, I promise!!)

Yes, it’s a body swapping story. Yes, there are lessons that come along with that. Disney had never done an animated story like this before, and this one gets deeper than you think. Not only does our main character Kenai learn that bears aren’t the horrible monsters he thinks they are, but he learns that his past actions have affected someone he genuinely cares about. Coming to terms with that and telling the truth about it is why I have this on my underrated list. That’s deep for Disney. It’s about learning that what you used to believe actually hurt someone you love and dealing with the outcomes. You can’t take back your choices. You’re stuck with what you did and what you thought in the past. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change and be a better person (er, bear) and make up for in in the future.

6. Meet the Robinsons (2007)

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I would attempt to name them all L to R, but I can’t…

If you had told me 10 years ago I was going to put this on this list I would have laughed at you. Because the trailer looked ridiculous. Because this movie seemed ridiculous. And in a lot of ways, it is. In a lot of ways, it’s messy, and weird, and disjointed. But if you look past all that and get to the heart of this movie, you’re left going “whoa.” I talk about it in my review, but the lesson in this movie of not dwelling on the past and to “keep moving forward” is unique in a Disney movie. That’s why it’s on this list. The idea is so great, and in some ways it’s done well. Lewis is great as is our villain (with regards to the lesson). They don’t bash it over people’s heads, but it’s not super subtle either. This movie COULD be better, but it’s underrated in my mind because I think this is a movie no one went to see. And they really should just give it a chance.

7. The Princess and the Frog (2009)

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Ok this one IS selfish. And it’s different than the others on here. But this movie SHOULD HAVE BEEN bigger than it was. It SHOULD HAVE BEEN Disney’s rise back into the Revival. Because it’s good. It has everything that is so “classic” Disney and so much more. It has an amazing protagonist. Great side characters. A good Villain. Good songs. But did it get much mention? no! Ugh. I wish this movie had done better. Because it’s awesome and does not deserve to get forgotten (which I feel like it already has!). It teaches that hard work and perseverance are good, and you need them to get ahead in life, but they aren’t everything. You need to strike a balance between work and play and love.

Rant over.

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I was going to add Tarzan (1999) and Mulan (1998), because I think they’ve fallen to the wayside now, but eh, I can’t bring myself to do it. I think they were somewhat popular when they came out. But I do think they are movies that everyone should see for differing reasons (see my reviews for more info)

So there you have it. 6 movies I think everyone who is a true Disney fan shouldn’t skip. Movies I think that deserve more credit than they got, even if just a little. Movies that make me think or might have a profound effect on a child’s thinking. Or an adult’s for that matter.

Next up: Enchanted, then on to Pixar!

 

Ranking my favorite Disney Songs

Alright y’all. I don’t know about you guys, but with the state of the country and the world today, I need an escape. What better way to do it than with Animation and Disney! Not just the movies, but how about the songs? humming your favorite tune has been known to lower stress. I know when I’m annoyed or having a bad or stressful day, music can definitely help.

Disney has ALWAYS been about the music. Although it occasionally goes through periods where they apparently think they’re “too good” for songs, the majority of Disney animated movies are known not only for their stories and characters, but their songs. That is why I am going to List my favorite Disney songs (I’m not limiting it to 10, because personally I think that would be impossible). These are sort of in order? It’s hard to do the higher up ones. At least the top 3 are probably right… Here we go!!

A Whole New World (Aladdin)

I WOULD have this further up on the list, except that every time I listen to it compared to the others it seems sort of… blah. There’s really nothing that sets it apart. But it is still a good song.

 

Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas)

As much as I really dislike what Disney did to this movie, this song is spectacular. the lyrics are thought-provoking, the animation is lovely, and it almost makes us forget we’re in a movie where they aged Pocahontas 10 years and made her fall in love with that white guy

 

Someday (Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Ok, I think I’m kinda cheating with this one and the next, but I don’t care. These are the songs that appear in the credits and are *not* sung by Disney characters. They were singles on the radio.

Someday is an All-4-One song, and if you don’t know who that is it means you’re too young and you should go educate yourself on awesome soul/R&B/whatever the heck they were – boy bands of the 90s. This song is still one of my favorites even 20 years later. It’s the “imagine” of the Disney world. Here, take a listen:

 

Little Wonders (Meet the Robinsons)

Little Wonders is a perfect song for a movie that is unique and underrated for Disney. Sung by Rob Thomas (who is a personal favorite of mine), this song perfectly sums up the feelings of our protagonist Lewis while at the same time somehow digging deep into each of us and touching each of us in the chest. We’ve felt this before, or might at some points in our life. It’s a song I still listen to constantly.

 

Best of Friends (The Fox & The Hound)

There’s nothing really special about this song. It just comes at a time in a movie when our two main characters meet and are playing and having fun. But at the same time it somehow epitomizes childhood. We don’t care who we play with when we’re really young, because we’re just having fun. It’s not until adults and the world “gets in the way” that our mindsets change. I’m starting to think everyone in the world should watch this movie right about now…

 

Why Should I Worry? (Oliver & Co)

This one is a bit of a personal favorite. There’s nothing amazing about this song. It’s not on top Disney song lists. But I love it because 1) It’s Billy Joel, 2) it’s rock, so it’s different than normal disney songs (seriously, you could see this playing on the radio in the 80s), and 3) it kinda sums up the character of Dodger perfectly.

 

Almost There (The Princess and the Frog)

I’ve talked about how much I love this movie. I’ve talked about how I love the atmosphere and what they did with the songs in this movie. To be honest I could pick any of the songs in this movie and throw them here. I love “Down in New Orleans” as well, but if I had to pick one this would be it. This is the classic “I want” song from Disney (on par with “Part of this world” and “When will my life begin?”), but I love this one more than those simply because it’s done in the jazz style, the animation goes back to the 20s posters, and it sums up our character of Tiana so well. She’s worked so hard. she IS almost there.

 

Kiss the Girl (The Little Mermaid)

I made a rule that I couldn’t put more than one song from a movie on here. It was a real toss up between this and “part of your world.” I’m still deciding if I picked the right one. But I love this song. Fun story: In college my friend found a techno version of this song. My life has never been the same since.

 

Let it Go (Frozen)

Yeah, go ahead and shoot me now. Any parents reading this are going “what? how can you stand that song anymore?” It’s true. Frozen is the movie that refused to die in our culture. For the 3rd year in a row, 3/4 of the trick-or-treaters that came to our door were dressed as Elsa. But you can’t ignore just HOW GOOD this song is. After a long hiatus of truly GOOD Disney songs, we finally got a ringer. I mean, the emotion, the words, the message. It’s all there. I love this song, and I’m not sorry.

 

Something There (Beauty and the Beast)

I know, I know. I should have picked the titular song. And I DO love that song. I actually almost picked “Gaston” simply because that song is hilarious. But if I really had to pick one from Beauty and the Beast (and I do because well, it’s Beauty and the Beast), it would have to be this one. They start to understand each other. Belle starts to see past the exterior, and the Beast allows himself to soften. I love the way this one plays out, and the way it sounds.

 

I Won’t Say I’m in Love (Hercules)

Again, I seriously could have picked any song from this movie, which is weird because I know a lot of people could take or leave them. I personally LOVE the music in this movie. If I listed ALL the Disney songs, the ones from Hercules would probably be in the top 20. They’re all just so peppy, zany, etc. But this is the one that I love the most. It’s the one I listen to on my iTunes over and over. And honestly I have no idea why. Maybe it doesn’t sound like any other Disney song. Maybe I like the vulnerability a seemingly tough character is showing.

 

I See the Light (Tangled)

Ok, I’m sort of cheating with this one too. Half of the reason I love this song is because of the animation during it. But it is a pretty good song. It’s our love song but it’s almost like that’s not the main focus. It’s about seeing that there’s more to life than each character previously thought. Plus, it’s pretty!!!

 

You’ll be in My Heart (Tarzan)

I could be cheating with this one too because although this song IS in the movie, I actually mean the one sung by Phil Collins during the credits. But I don’t care. This song is amazing. It perfectly sums up our movie. It’s beautiful when sung by Glenn Close (voice of Kala). It’s sweet and serene in the movie and during the credits has our typical Phil Collins flare. When my son was super young, I sung it to him to get him to sleep. This song has a lot of personal memories attached to it. A list without this song would be incomplete.

 

Circle of Life (The Lion King)

How could I not? I remember seeing this movie in the theater when I was 8 and even then knowing that I was already watching something special. This song is beautiful. It’s the perfect way to open this movie, and again, we have the entire idea of the movie in one song. This is the story about the life of this lion cub. It also has the distinction of setting the atmosphere in the movie, and transports us to Africa. It’s beautiful, it’s epic, and if you ever see the broadway show, it can make you downright cry.

For fun here’s the Broadway version. Revel in the Amazing-ness:

 

He’s a Tramp (Lady & The Tramp)

huh? I bet a lot of people are wondering where this one came from. To be honest, this is one that has only grown on me as I’ve gotten older. Part of that could be because I understand it now (this actually is an incredibly “grown up” song). But I love Peg’s voice, I love the style, I love the sad atmosphere of the pound. It’s a one of a kind Disney song.

 

Out There (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

This is already my favorite Disney movie. While it doesn’t have the majority of my favorite Disney songs, most of them in this movie are quite good (as I talked about in my review). I really SHOULD have put “heaven’s light/Hellfire” on here from a technical standpoint. That song is unbelievable. Or I should have put “The Bells of Notre Dame” on here, because of the musical and storytelling ability. Or even “God Help the Outcasts.” But this one is a bit more of a personal favorite. It’s another “I want” song, and it’s not only beautifully sung and written, it’s beautifully animated. It lets you see what our main character is really about, and it’s great.

 

I’ll Make a Man Out of You (Mulan)

There really was no question when I started making this list what would be number one. Which is kinda funny, because honestly I would have put my money one of the other songs on here myself. But the more I thought about it, this really is one of the BEST Disney songs out there. It’s a montage song, but it’s a well done montage song. It’s catchy and upbeat, Donny Osmond’s voice fits perfectly, and I DARE you not to sing along.

Moments Disney had us crying

Disney has the uncanny ability to elicit a huge range of emotions from its audience. We can laugh, sing along, get mad or angry, and of course, cry. If you think about it, it’s kinda unbelievable. In 90 minutes or less, we attach ourselves to these characters and the story that Disney has chosen to tell enough to cry or want to throw something at the screen. That’s an unbelievable feat in storytelling.

side note: I cry ridiculously easily in movies these days. Apparently I was a tough-as-nails kid who didn’t cry at any movie until I was about 15. Now, waterworks come at the drop of a hat. So to make my list below, I am, of course, being personal but trying my hardest to pull out moments that might have had more people than me crying.

*These are presented in no particular order (honest it’s as I remembered them) and do NOT include Pixar. That will be a whole other list in itself…*

1. The “Baby Mine” Scene, Dumbo

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Ok, we all know how I feel about Dumbo. It’s probably my least favorite Disney movie (and now Tim Burton is going to do a live action version? ugh….), but it does have its moments. As a kid I thought this scene was so incredibly boring I wanted to shoot myself. I still think the song is boring, but that’s not what gets me, or a lot of other people. It’s the moments before and after the scene. Dumbo has spent his time away from the mother that was only trying to protect him, and like every child, misses her. Timothy arranges a short meeting, and in that few moments we can see not only the happiness but the sadness and the love that radiates from these two elephants for each other. The reaching of the trunks, the sappiness of the song. He sees her, but he doesn’t really see her. He can’t be with her. He only gets this one moment.

2. The fallout of Bambi’s mother getting shot, Bambi

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I feel like if I didn’t include this in here people would get upset. I’m not traumatized by Bambi’s mother getting shot. You hear a gunshot, that’s it. What gets ME is what happens AFTER. Bambi wanders around looking for his mother and calling out, only to suddenly be blind-sided by the great prince (aka his dad) who has to explain what happened. The music is drab, the voices are sullen and monotone, and you just get this sense of horribleness that goes along with this scene. This poor little baby deer has to come to terms with the fact he will never see his mother again.

3. Those two scenes, The Fox and the Hound

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I bet I don’t even have to tell you what scenes I’m talking about, do I? If you’ve seen this movie, you know. The first is when the widow is dropping Tod off at the game preserve. The combination of the song (oh god that song!) and the emotions just kill me. We as an audience know how happy Tod has made her, and we know she’s doing it for his own good, but at the same time Tod can’t for the life of him understand why she’s doing this. It’s an extremely well done scene that is made for racking up the tears.

So epic. Cue crying here...

So epic. Cue crying here…

The second one is the moment when Tod is going to get shot, and Copper blocks his master by standing over him. They walk away and come to an understanding with each other, proving that they will be friends forever, even though they are different. If you don’t at least feel something during this scene, you might be dead inside.

4. Mufasa’s Death, The Lion King

Admit it, you cried too!!

Admit it, you cried too!!

Again, if I didn’t put this one on here, people would have flipped out. But this is one of the THE saddest scenes in any Disney movie. Cool, tough guy Simba just watched his dad plummet to the ground and doesn’t understand why he won’t get up. seriously, how many of us DON’T tear up when he jumps and tugs on Mufasa’s ear and says “Dad, you gotta get up! We gotta go home!” Add in the beautifully haunting score during the scene, and this one is bound to make you tear up.

5. Tarzan says goodbye to Kala, Tarzan

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“No matter where I go, you will always be my mother.” “And you will always be in my heart.” GAH!!! I don’t know what it is, this one always gets me, and I hope it gets other people too. Tarzan has spent his whole life trying to fit in and has chosen to give up his gorilla family to join where he “should” be – with people and with Jane. But he still knows to a point who he is and why he’s that way. Kala has always been there for him and has loved him regardless of what has happened. It’s a goodbye that makes me want to hurt myself.

6. Penny and Bolt are stuck in the burning studio, Bolt

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This one might be a personal one that no one else reacts to, but I can’t help but tear up when Bolt and Penny are stuck in the studio. Bolt finds a way out but Penny is too weak, so he stays with her. I love this moment so much in this movie because we know how loyal Bolt is to Penny. We’ve spent an entire movie dealing with it. But there’s something about staying with your human even though you think you’re going to die. He’s selfless, and that’s just how a dog should be. It brings up memories of every dog I’ve ever owned that would probably do the same for me.

7. Flynn dies, Tangled

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I bawled like a baby the first time I saw this movie because I honestly didn’t know how it was going to end and I seriously thought they had killed off this character. As I talked about in my review, Flynn was a great Disney character and the connection he had with Rapunzel was at the center of the movie and done extremely well. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that people would cry at this moment in the movie, watching everything Rapunzel loved get taken away from her, the subsequent bargaining she goes through with Mother Gothel to save his life, and his need for her to be free of her. He gave his own life to save hers, and it’s a moment that is extremely well done.

8. Anna is turned to ice, Frozen

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Ok, maybe you weren’t flat out crying during this, but I bet you were in shock, tearing up, or something. With the way they did this scene, how could you not be? One of the most amazing parts of this scene was the fact that after Anna stands in front of Elsa and Hans’ sword comes down on her frozen hand, all the background noise just STOPS. There is NOTHING. it’s raw emotion right there coming from Elsa and that’s all we hear. It’s an incredibly effective tool that makes you realize what this movie was all about.

9. Hiro says goodbye to Baymax, Big Hero 6

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Disney is getting to be as bad as Pixar. It makes us care about it’s characters on a crazy level where just anything can set you off into the waterworks. To be fair, Hiro is by far the most tragic Disney protagonist ever to live. He lost his parents, he lost his brother, and at the end of this movie, he has to lose his best friend – a friend that is giving his life to save his. We feel for this kid and we know how happy Baymax has made him. But we also understand that Baymax has and always will be selfless. He can’t be talked out of it, especially when it’s the only way. But we too are sad to see him go.

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I’m sure I missed some. As I said, I cry at the drop of a hat, so I still will tear up in movies like Brother Bear, Meet the Robinsons, and others. I just tried to pull out some of the more “general” ones that I could see making more than just me cry.

*The Pixar list is going to be every single movie. Maybe more than one scene in each movie. Be prepared.

A little Update

SORRY!!! I’ve been missing SO long!! But… I kinda have good reason:

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Meet my Boy! He was born July 1st, so he’s almost 5 weeks old now! Needless to say I will be taking a bit of a break from posting, and have already. There’s just so much you can do in a day when you’re caring for a newborn… you know, that whole “no sleep” thing… it’s kinda stressful, but worth it.

But fear not! I will be back and have a few drafts waiting to be finished. I go back to work in September, so maybe once I get settled back into that routine I’ll start this up again (or finish editing my book. Like I said… SO much to do!)

Top 11 Disney Villains

For some of us, Disney movies are our introduction to the wonderful world of Cinema. Because of this, the villains in Disney movies may be the first villains we ever experience. They frighten us, make us cry, and possibly scar us for the rest of our childhoods (I’m looking at you, Ursula!). For me, Disney villains were a perfect hybrid of horror and awesomeness. Disney movies weren’t good unless the villain was.

If you had asked me my favorite villains as a kid, my list would have been completely different. I probably would have gone on which ones scared me the most, but that, in some ways, isn’t fair. Sure… it’s important in a disney movie for a villain to be “scary.” But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned there’re different kinds of scary.

My top ten Disney Villains were extremely difficult to come up with. In the end, I weighed a few different things to determine who should be on my list. 1) just how scary are they? 2) I took their overall plans into account. How diabolical are they? 3) Did they actually succeed? I think villains are scarier if they actually succeed at stuff and for a while we can see their vision, and 4) Their personalities: Do they have a moral compass, regret, etc?

** I must also mention these might not be my favorite Disney villains. Hades, Gaston, and Yzma get no love on this list… **

Honorable Mention #1: Hans from Frozen (2013)

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Ok, so go with me on this. Hans doesn’t seem that evil the entire movie. In fact, we think he’s a good guy. But once he’s revealed as the real “villain,” his actions become clear. He had an entire plan to essentially get rid of two sisters and rule Arrendale for himself. Things go awry when Elsa goes all ice crazy, and he’s left to tweak his plans. This guy is nothing but slimy and incredibly able to go with the flow. So why doesn’t he make my actual list? Because despite the fact he was willing to kill 2 sisters to gain power, I honestly don’t think he would have ruled Arrendale as an evil King. He probably would have been good at it. He probably would have actually cared about the people. For that, Hans isn’t as evil as he seems.

11) Shere Khan from The Jungle Book

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Everyone can admit it: Tigers are bad-ass. They’re one of my favorite animals, but that’s beside the point. When The Jungle Book was written, Tigers had a stigma, which i’m sure still exists in India. They were man-eating horrible, villainous creatures. Shere Khan is the fears of the people embodied in a single character. Yes, it’s true we don’t see him for most of the movie. That doesn’t matter. His name is mentioned throughout, as is what he will do to Mowgli if he finds him. We understand by the time the tiger shows up exactly what his personality is like. He’s ruthless, has a seemingly blind hatred of man, and wants nothing more than to get rid of them. And if killing one boy can help bring him closer to that goal, he will do it. There’s also something about the tiger and how he handles himself. He’s confident and smooth, calm but demeaning. He exudes this feeling of uneasiness. He’s not in the movie long, and yes, he’s only trying to kill one boy, but he’s done it before, and possibly worse. If anything, it’s his demeanor and his past actions that have gotten him this reputation, and those are the same things that have gotten him on this list.

10) Shan Yu from Mulan

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This is possibly the only Disney villain that frightens with actions instead of words. I think this guy utters a total of 20 lines in the entirety of the film. I have to be honest: when this movie came out, I thought this was a horrible villain. He wasn’t scary, you barely saw him, and he seemed easy to beat. Then I grew up and understood just how awful this villain really is. This guy gets on my list because of his plan (and to a lesser extent his quiet confidence, much like Shere Khan). This is a guy who is invading China and KILLING everyone who gets in the way. Entire villages are flattened. Children are killed with no remorse. This guy wants to rule, will stop at nothing to get it, and wants to take out the emperor with a huge audience just to show how frightening he can be. He was in the movie a perfect amount to convey what he wants. He puts his scariness into actions, not words. That, in some ways, is better than a villain who talks a ton. Plus he survives an avalanche.

9) Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty

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In a movie where the titular character has the least lines of any Disney protagonist ever, the villain sure makes up for it. Other than the fairies, Maleficent really is the focus of this film. While it’s true we don’t quite know her backstory (and I don’t count the shitty live action movie and you shouldn’t either!), this is a villain that is just fun to watch because we know something had to have happened to make her the way she is. While my last two villains have been quiet but scary, Maleficent is just flat out scary! Her character design, her residence, her confidence, the fact she turns into a freaking dragon! This woman is someone you don’t want to mess with. Her plan seems like one of revenge, and go figure, it actually works! It’s only the fairies that saved it from killing Aurora in the first place. Otherwise she would have won! Every scene with her is memorable, and she is honestly the only reason I can stand this movie. (plus that scene in her castle with her minions dancing around the fire? how did I NOT get nightmares from that??). Maleficent. Is. Awesome.

8) King Candy/Turbo from Wreck-it Ralph

Oh trust me, he's evil

Oh trust me, he’s evil

Alright, I can hear the sighs now. “Really?? How is this guy on your top 10?” But seriously, hear me out. I didn’t even mention that this guy was the villain in my review of Wreck-it Ralph, because it is one of the movie’s biggest twists. Turbo was in a racing game that was popular, and once he wasn’t he grew jealous and started showing up in other games. His game got unplugged, and instead of dying with his game, he infiltrated another one and literally re-wrote it so that he would always come out on top. He took the characters lives, changed them and erased their memories. He exiled the original ruler of Sugar rush to believe she was a mistake. He has all these rules in place to make sure that he will always stay ruler. And the whole time he acts like he’s got everyone’s best interests in his heart. But he doesn’t. He’s selfish and sneakily evil. And sometimes that’s worse than just flat out evil. At least in my opinion.

7) Cruela DeVil from 101 Dalmatians

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I can’t have a villain list without Cruela on it. No, she’s not planning on taking over a country or a world (real or virtual). She’s not seeking revenge for a wrong-doing or something that happened in her past. She’s not jealous. But all those reasons are what make her so scary. This woman is evil just for the sake of it, and it’s like she doesn’t even realize or care. In her mind, she thinks that taking PUPPIES and SKINNING them is perfectly acceptable. She thinks kidnapping them is normal. This movie and this villain capitalizes on our moral compasses by creating a character that acts exactly the opposite. She grows more and more unstable as the movie progresses, at the end just seeming absolutely bonkers. While the rest of us are saying “they’re just dogs, get over it!” she’s believing this is the worst thing that is happening in her life. Her character design is brilliant, and she’s just…. crazy.

6)  Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective

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Alright, I admit it. This one may be a personal choice. I LOVE Ratigan, but I’m gonna try to justify my decision. We have a villain with a diabolical plan: he wants to take over the world. Nevermind he’s a rat (er.. mouse…). Why can’t he take over the world? That’s a pretty big order, but Ratigan is smart enough that you can see him accomplishing his goal. He’s not just some run of the mill dumb villain. He’s calm and collected in the face of adversity (for the most part). He really is a mastermind that has everything laid out in front of him. He’s not afraid to kill anyone, and does numerous times in the movie. Not only does he kill them, he allows them to get tortured and mutilated by his cat, Felicia. He also tortures Basil and kidnaps the toymaker. He ALSO goes bat-shit crazy at the end of the movie, proving to everyone that even those that are calm and collected can break when things don’t go their way. He’s an great villain.

5) Dr. Facilier/the Shadowman from The Princess and the Frog

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I feel like a lot of people pass this movie over, and with it they pass over a really great villain. I prefer to call him the Shadowman, because it sounds cooler. This villain has a lot going for him. His diabolical plan (like so many in the Disney-verse) is to take over the city of New Orleans, but he also wants to release all the evil spirits to help him. And this is why the Shadowman is a little bit above the others in my list: he deals with Voodoo evil spirits. It’s a whole level that I really think works for this guy. Because in all honesty, The Shadowman is a little… well… let’s just say we don’t get the feeling he’s a smart guy. It’s only his dealings with the spirits that really turn him into a legit villain. But he’s willing to sell his own soul to get what he wants. He’s willing to kidnap and even kill a prince. He has one of the best songs we’ve seen in a while (one that legitimately frightened me in the theater… or at least gave me chills… and I was 23 at the time…). He’s not smart but he’s confident, and an incredibly smooth talker. A feeling of uneasiness just drips off this guy, and that’s part of the reason he’s all the way up at #5 on my list.

4) Jafar from Aladdin

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Ahhhh Jafar. In this villain we have a lot of things that have made our other villains on this list so great: confidence, a diabolical take-over plan, and a lot of smooth talking. We also have an amazing character design and a voice that just drips with evilness. There is just nothing about this guy that is good. Again we have no idea why he wants to take over Agrabah, but it doesn’t matter. He just wants to be sultan and nothing is going to stop him. He has a perfect plan that goes awry, but unlike a lot of other villains, he figures out what happened and actually fixes it to “win” at some point in the movie. This is why Jafar is higher than a lot of other villains. We actually see his plan, and, well, it’s not too great. He punishes those who had him in his place before. He paints the sky red (that’s scary right?) He’s just got a scary vibe to him too.

3) Ursula from The Little Mermaid

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I can’t even believe this but I completely forgot about the Sea Witch when I started writing this list (that’s why it’s now a top 11 instead of top 10…) How could I forget about her??? Honestly, I had her lower in numbers earlier, but had to move her up to #3 after really thinking about it. Here’s the thing about Ursula. 1) She’s scary as hell. Her design is perfect, her voice is perfect, her “setting” wonderful. When we see Ariel go to her lair… nightmares! 2) She is totally just taking advantage of something that happened to walk right into her lap. While it’s true she was keeping her eel-eyes on Ariel, she didn’t actively do anything except have Flotsam and Jetsam give her a little push to get her to visit. She has ALWAYS had her eye on King Triton, but dear sweet lord she has been extremely patient about it. In the meantime, she has taken advantage of those less fortunate and taken advantage of them, literally turning them into worms. How has no one caught her? does anyone realize all these merpeople are missing? Somehow she can operate without being detected. Seriously! Ursula is badass. And again, at the end, she is scary as shit (my 4 year old self still can’t get over it). She takes advantage of people, She’s smart (I mean she has people sign a contract so it doesn’t even seem like it’s her fault if they fail!!), and she’s #3 on this list.

2) Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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While a lot of people would put Ursula or Jafar or some villain like that as #2 and #1, I’m choosing to go a different way, at least for the second spot. Frollo is like a majorly amped up version of Shan Yu. He’s cool, calm, collected, but my god is this guy messed up! In the first few minutes of the movie he arrests a number of people, kills another and attempts to murder a baby. His hatred of those that are different (gypsies) is really something I can’t stomach, and a huge reason he’s so high on my list. This guy, left unchecked, is essentially Hitler. He’s killing without remorse, setting people on fire, locking people up, and allowing torture to happen because… well… that’s ok? In his mind, it is. In his mind, there is nothing wrong with anything he is doing. He’s mistreated our protagonist his whole life, causing him to believe he’s worthless. I call emotional and mental abuse! Seriously, this guys rap sheet is so long I can’t even list it all here. He’s scary as all hell, but in a suave, collected kind of way. I love this villain. Love love love him because he makes me so uncomfortable and he is such a GOOD villain. In my mind, there’s only 1 that’s better.

1) Scar from The Lion King

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Really, was there ever any question? For me, Scar and Frollo could have been switched, because for me they’re just as evil. Scar, first of all, is perfect in his character design and voice acting. He’s smart, like so many of my top villains, and he is so incredibly patient. You can tell he’s harbored hatred for his brother probably his whole life, but takes his time and doesn’t attempt to act until the moment is right. He has followers that worship him and do his dirty work. It’s only when they fail does he come out and show us what he’s really capable of doing himself, giving us one of the most memorably disturbing scenes in all of Disney-dom (“Long Live the KING!”). He’s number 1 on my list because he succeeds and although he thinks himself a marvelous king, manages to run an entire savannah into the ground. But he’s power hungry and you could argue goes a bit insane by the end of the movie. But through all, he’s still incredibly smart about the way he handles himself. He manages to ruin his nephew’s life by saying he’s responsible for Mufasa’s death (again, Mental and emotional abuse!) and our main character is haunted by that his whole life. He murders one and attempts to murder another, and has no problem doing it. Not to mention he’s slimy, trying to apologize only to turn the second a back is turned. He’s untrustworthy, evil, and so incredibly wonderful.

So there you have it. My top 11 (plus some) Disney Villains. I know not everyone will agree with my choices, but I enjoy watching every single one of these characters thoroughly. They enhance the movies they’re in, sometimes making them exactly what they are. We love to hate villains, but I personally love to love them.

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