Friday, February 03, 2006

Hi Ho Hi Ho Another Top Ten List OH NO!

Let's talk Disney Animated Classics for this installment of my Top Ten lists that mean absolutely nothing, shall we? I take that back. They mean the world. And this is a best/favorite combo, so it's the ones that I think stand the test of time mixed with those I like to watch the most. Which means, there may be some off the list I prefer to watch over those on the list. For instance, Tarzan is one of my favorite Disney movies to watch with my boys, but as a whole I don't think it stacks up enough to make it onto the list. Per conventional format, I'll mention the close-but-just-not-good-enoughs first.

Despite the title of my post, the feature that kicked the whole series off, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, missed the list. Really, I probably ought to put it on because it was the first, but I just can't make myself do it. It's really not one of my personal favorites, and although we have it in our collection, I almost wish that we didn't. Likewise, Bambi, is another one I have a hard time sitting through. I hate to say it, because these are beloved classics, but they fall under the "boring factor" for me. On the other hand, many of the more action-adventure types such as the aforementioned Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, Aladdin, and Treasure Planet also didn't make it on this GUY'S list, and I do think gender matters to some degree on lists like these. Tarzan and Aladdin came the closest to making it of those, however. Then, a few other good ones that fell a hare's breath, an ear, or a dog's whisker short were Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo, and Lady and the Tramp. Each of those three were close, but in the end, I have to go with what's really the best -- sorry if your personal favs were omitted -- so, on with the countdown.

10) The Fox and the Hound - A tail of friendship between natural enemies, this under-rated movie illustrates the depths that relational bonds do forge. Yet another Kurt Russell/Disney hook-up, he and Mickey Rooney are excellent as the adult versions of Copper, the hound dog, and Tod, the red fox. The story is really Tod's, however, and the friendship that he just won't give up. Nonetheless, it's Copper's conflict over whether he should be what he is and what he's be driven to do by ol' Amos Slade and Chief or whether he should be a friend that is the driver here. The Disney makers did well with Slade, the deranged yet likeable hunter. The old codger is a demon with his shotgun, but the Widow Tweed is usually a step ahead of him, and their relationship is part of the fun. The ending is tense, melancholy, and rewarding, and because of it, Copper and Tod edge their way onto my list.

9) 101 Dalmations - Or 101 Dog-mations, as my younger son calls it. Of all the good Disney animated bad guys, this movie has my favorite. Cruella DeVil. And she is a cruel devil, is she not? The song by her same name that Roger Radcliff composes is one of my favorites in any of the Disney movies. The movie has a couple neat little romances, 103 dogs, and then it has Cruella, Jasper, and Horace. The storyline of using those puppy dog coats to make her own fur is priceless, and the non-animated Disney movies from this line is indicative of this one's timelessness.

8) Cinderella - This 1950 classic adapted from the Grimm's fairy tale story never loses its charm. Although the step-sisters are somewhat annoying, Cinderella's step-mother is downright scary, and she is yet another of Disney's all-time great baddies. The art for her face is nothing short of excellence, and even now my kids will hide under their sheets when she's coming to get Cinderella. The fairy tale is so good, and so, so many spin-offs from the original story (and from this version of it) have been made, that I'd question anyone not having this one on their own Top Ten list. The mice are fun, the Fairy Godmother is delightful, and the prince is... well, charming. If this one's not in your collection, it needs to be.

7) Beauty and the Beast - I've seen many lists where this "beauty" is Number 1. To me, and that's who really counts here, that's too high. But it's good. The caddish yet handsome rogue, Gaston, works well enough as a bad guy, and of all the Disney romances, this one rings the most true to me. The art in this movie is even better than most of the Disney flicks and most of it was traditional animation rather than computer-enhanced, which I liked. I think the makers did an excellent job with Beast. They had to nail him for this movie to work, and they banged the hammer down just right. On a side note, it was nice to have the late Jerry Orbach's voice, from Law and Order fame, in a Disney feature. This one won two Oscars, so obviously the Disney animation team did a lot right.

6) The Lion King - Another winner of two Oscars, The Lion King continued an excellent run for Disney following the successes of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, with only The Rescuers Down Under being below-par for Walt Disney Productions fare. Aside from some of the new agey stuff that afflicts more Disney movies than just this one, I really enjoyed the father/son relationship between Mufassa, casted brilliantly (James Earl Jones), and Simba. And Rafiki, the sage-ish mandrill, was the best character in the movie. Scar, also casted well (Jeremy Irons), made a worthy nemesis for Simba, his evil ambitiousness compounded by being the murderer of the cub's father. This is another that many folks, and kids especially, will have atop their lists. I liked it. I loved it. Just not that much.

5) Sleeping Beauty - I probably need to quit broadcasting the bad guys, but for me, they're the ones who make or break the Disney movies seven times out of ten. Maleficent is another great one. What she is, is Cinderella's mother as a sorceress. And that makes her wicked, scary, and cool. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather provide the good fairies, and they're good characters, that make Prince Phillip ultimately able to overcome the witch. On the downside, the music in this one isn't my favorite. However, for a little boy watching a Disney flick, nothing beats a prince battling a wicked dragon for the life of his betrothed. This movie has as good a climatic scene as Disney ever made, perhaps the best, and it is that battle between man and dragon that vaults this fairy tale classic into my Top Five.

4) Pinocchio - 1940. Can you believe that? Pinocchio was made in 1940, 27 years before I was born. Besides making me really old, it makes the movie Methuselian relative to all the Shark's Tales, Home on the Ranges, and Chicken Littles we're privy to today. But I'll take Pinocchio. A plethora of bad guys in this one: "Honest" John, the Coachman, Stromboli, and Lampwick, not to mention a whale the likes of what Jonah saw. Great songs, too. "I've Got No Strings" and "Hi Diddily Dee" were awesome, and "(When You) Wish Upon a Star" is timeless. Endearing characters like Jiminy Cricket, Gepetto, the Blue Fairy, and Pinocch, himself, carry this into the four immortals on my list. Pinocchio is a guy almost every little boy can identify with. He chooses trouble, he lies, he ignores his "good shoulder," but then he atones for his mistakes and is redeemed in the end. How many of us as kids can't say, "Hey, that's me!"? I know it in myself and I see it in my boys. We're Pinocchio.

3) Peter Pan - I'm not sure how much carry-over there is from me really enjoying J.M. Barrie's book and seeing my youngest boy actually become Peter Pan to having this movie as high as number three on this list. We've had a pirate birthday party (in honor of Captain Hook) and a Peter Pan birthday party in consecutive years for my son, and he was Peter Pan for Halloween, and still plays dress up as both Pan and Captain Hook. So maybe I'm a little biased. Nonetheless, Captain Hook, the Disney version, ranks right up there with Cruella Devil as the best of the best of the bad guys in these animated movies. It doesn't hurt that his foil, Mr. Smee, is such a great character as well. Wendy and her brothers, the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, and Peter Pan make Neverland a place all kids might want to go and stay for a good, long while. Especially when we get/got in trouble. Although there's the issue of disrespecting one's elders here, it's basically harmless, and we see Peter Pan as a brave, cunning, and free boy in the land of faerie, and that's appealing to a lot of people, not all of whom are kids. All the while, we understand that Peter has unresolved issues that one day, ultimately, he'll have to face. Or not. As the fabulous opening line of the book states, "All children, except one, grow up."

2) The Little Mermaid - Apologies to all the mer-haters out there, but for the mix of excitement, music, adventure, dreams, and love, Mermaid tops them all. No Disney movie has more beautiful music, and some of it is fun as well. Ariel has all the ingredients that make a character great. Her wistful dreams and motivations, her semi-rebelliousness, her bad choices, her good heart, her close friends, and she's a girl who will risk it all for what she wants the most. King Triton makes a believeable strict yet loving father, who isn't above a few wrong choices himself, for a sea god. Ursula provides a worthy nemesis, and she looks the part. Flounder, Scuttle, and especially Sebastian give Ariel friends with a mix of personalities so that we can enjoy them along with her. And Prince Eric whom she saves, her love interest, isn't without his flaws either, but his courage and will to sacrifice overcome all of that. Just a beautiful movie, and this one brought Disney out of a string of underwhelming ones (Oliver & Company, The Great Mouse Detective, and -- unfortunately because the books and books of Prydain are so magnificent -- The Black Cauldron). Since I know almost everyone has it, I need say nothing more.

1) The Jungle Book - If you don't like The Jungle Book, you're either dead or from Mars. Simple but excellent storyline of getting the man-cub, Mowgli, out of danger in the forest and into the man-village. Great character after great character. Bagheera, Kaa the snake, Colonel Hathi and his elephant brigade, Baloo the bear (one of Disney's greatest characters ever voiced brilliantly by Phil Harris), King Louie and the monkeys, Shere Khan, Flaps and the rest of the mod Vulture crew, and finally to Shanti. And the short but sweeeeet soundtrack beats anything else Disney, much less the majority of movie-dom itself, ever put out. "The Bare Necessities" and "I Want to be Like You" are dance numbers that I'll take over anything else from the Wonderful World of Disney. I've watched it so many times, it's beyond coutning now -- and I love it every single time. WAR Mowgli!!! And WAR The Jungle Book!!! The single best Disney masterpiece ever.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
I'm sure no one disagrees, so why even open it up for other opinions? Nonetheless, if you got opinions, I'll hear them. The ones that matter will say, "You got the Top Ten exactly right, Rich!" to which I'll state, "I know. Thank you very much." ;)

13 comments:

codepoke said...

Was Feivel Goes West not a Disney thing? I thought that was pretty funny. I would have expected to see it on your also-rans.

I like the Little Mermaid mostly because it made me read the original. A very cool book.

I guess I must have liked Cinderella, because I wrote a sequel to it myself. :-) I wrote it for my nieces, and they still haven't read it. About 5 pages in I scared them so bad they put it down. :-(. Their mom, my own blood sister, still hasn't sat down to read it to them.

For shame.

"You got the Top Ten exactly right, Rich!"

Rich said...

"I know. Thank you very much." ;)

I don't think Feivel Goes West was Disney, but then, I also didn't see that one. I'll have to check it out.

DugALug said...

Rich,

What about Song Of The South? Uncle Remus rocked, and Zipity-Doo-Dah?! Come on! I know it is polically incorrect, but it was by far my favorite.

Other than that, and the fact the Jungle Book is rated way too high, I pretty much agree.

I did like Beauty And The Beast A Little more than you, but who's to say.

-Doug

Rich said...

Doug,

My list included only the total animation classics. Not the partial. So movies such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Mary Poppins, Song of the South, and Pete's Dragon, although many of them classics in and of themselves, were not included in my listing.

Other than that, and the fact the Jungle Book is rated way too high, I pretty much agree.

Uh, Doug, I believe codepoke answered correctly when he stated:

"You got the Top Ten exactly right, Rich!"

to which I answered:

"I know. Thank you very much." ;)

Good for codepoke; bad for dugalug

WandaV said...

I way disagree that The Lion King should be anywhere near the top 10 list. The part where one brother kills another was just too disturbing to me, much less to belong in a kid's movie.

Likewise, I didn't care much for Bambi. I liked Beauty and the Beast much more than you did. The animation rocked! (not to mention the heroine was brunette and liked books *grin*)

Wanda
with her .02

P&S said...

Not bad, not bad. I have to admit that I was relieved at your Top 10. The further and further I read, the more scared I got that Fantasia would be Number 1. And I've never understood its appeal.

It is ironic, however, that the mouse that started it all is nowhere to be found anywhere near your Top 10, but then he's not in mine either. Mickey and the Beanstalk would probably be my favorite featuring MM.

The only issue I really have with your list is the omission of the Pixar collaborations. Perhaps this is an intentional slight due to some technicality like that mentioned for Song of the South, but I think that's a mistake. They are fully animated. If it's the Pixar involvement that keeps them out, I still find that misguided. You can't walk into any Disney store, the home of Disney at the Magic Kingdom WDW or Disneyland without being bombarded by Buzz Lightyear and Woody. And besides, Disney now owns Pixar anyway. But despite this, not bad overall.

Here's my Top 10, which isn't too different from yours:

Near misses:
Lady and the Tramp
The Little Mermaid - the music is great
Winnie the Pooh - this one misses because the movies are largely indistinguishable from each other, but the characters are great. Who doesn't love Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, etc
Lilo and Stitch - Loved immensely by the generation younger than us, and I find it quite enjoyable myself.
Robin Hood- Good music, adventure, and Prince John and Sir Hiss are hilarious

10)The Lion King- Timon and Pumbaa are my favorite characters.
9)Snow White- The music is great, and one can't think of the Disney princesses without going quickly to the senior member.
8)Monsters, Inc.- Gets bonus points for original, creative storytelling instead of borrowing from a book or fairy tale
7)Peter Pan
6)Aladdin - The music in this one is equal to any of the Disney movies. Genie, Iago, and the carpet are great characters. Jasmine quickly joined Princess status.
5)Pinocchio - for all the reasons you stated
4)The Jungle Book - The animation and the 60's/70's haircuts that all the characters have knocks it down a couple of notches for me, but great movie.
3)Toy Story- This movie revolutionized animated movies and lead to billions of dollars changing hands, but it's the creative writing, nostalgia, and fantastic characters and voices that make it a classic. To Infinity, and Beyond!
2)Beauty and the Beast - great animation, great songs, great movie
1)Cinderella- The ultimate Princess movie and the one that I think defines them all. Bippity... boppety... boo

codepoke said...

Pixar rocks.

I have liked every single thing I have seen of theirs, and even spent precious money on The Incredibles. Unbelievably good movie.

Rich said...

Well, I guess if you look at the Wikipedia list that I linked, I was going with just the animated cartoon masterpieces. All things Pixar I count different from those, and maybe someday they'll have their own list. In this one, I didn't include them. If I would have, Toy Story 2, which I prefer by a lot to Toy Story although I know that TS was Pixar's big start (as Snow White was Disney's, but as you can see, that one didn't make my cut either), and Finding Nemo would have hit, and The Incredibles would have been close but probably not on the list.

My new list would then be:

10) Cinderella
9) Toy Story 2
8) Beauty and the Beast
7) The Lion King
6) Sleeping Beauty
5) Finding Nemo
4) Pinochio
3) Peter Pan
2) The Little Mermaid
1) The Jungle Book

Man oh man, the first list was work enough without having to make a second one. (These posts are long and hard; I may end up giving up on them. I'm not sure they're worth the effort, although I think they make the blog look prettier with all the cute pictures - especially the Game Show Top Ten with the cute picture of Gene Rayburn.)

As for Doug, Ken, and Wanda, they all get demerits for not saying what codepoke did at the end of his first comment. Nonetheless, it is nice to know what you guys think, too.

Scot said...

How dare you all! We anxiously await the issuance of THE Top Ten List, and you dare publish your own versions. This is no contest, no poll. It is a declaration. Rich, and Rich alone has the authority to decide the scope and contents of the OFFICIAL Top Ten List. You start meddling with the system and mistakes start happening. Pinocchio gets misspelled. Sequels make the list, and not the originals. What will be next, as you rabble rousers attempt to sway the course of the THE LIST? So, Pixar films get included...FINE!! You want to play hardball, Ken, we'll play hardball. As long as we're mixin up creative sources, how 'bout we give Disney all the credit for your precious Narnia movie when all they did was have the muscle to distribute the film. But no, it was good ol' Walt and Mickey that came up with that Aslan character. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
I'm sorry this has turned ugly. But to see list after list meet nothing but contempt, I could not take it any longer.
Long live King Rich...Long live his List.

DugALug said...

If you include Pixar, your list is total poopajawiah. I thought you did say classic animation, so that nulifies all the pixar offerings. Basically I would put them in reverse order of release:

1) The Incredibles
2) Finding Nemo
3) Toy Story II
4) A Bug's Life
5) Toy Story

As far as Song of The South, Other than Uncle Remus, it is total animation. He is the glue behind the short stories.

Jungle book is sadly lame, especially if compared with Kipling's real book. I wouldn't end up on my life. I also like the Sword and the Stone.

Rich, shame on you, for plugging yourself.

BTW, hugs and kisses to your wife and kids too.

-Doug

P&S said...

Hey Scot,

You seem to have a smudge of boot polish... or... or something right there on your face.

And anyway, the Realm is not an absolute monarchy, it's more of an oligarchy.

Rich claims to have gotten his power from The Lady in the Lake and... "strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony."

Otherwise, funny comment.

Rich said...

Doug,

If I don't plug myself, who will? Well... besides Scot?

Ken,

OOOOooooh! You thought I said I got my power from the Lady in the Lake. No, no, no. What I said is that I had my hour with The Lady in the Lake. Oh, don't worry. It was strictly platonic. The Monty Python brotherhood notwithstanding, you sort of have to listen when chicks with gills and fishy tails are holding a sword to your throat while your feet are stuck in the mud, and they're telling you to be king.

I was just doing what I was told.

DugALug said...

Boys, Boys!

You forgot the 'moistened tart' comment. Very necessary.

Ohhh, stop your groveling! I hate it when you grovel. All that crying and weeping, and then there were the Psalms.

-Doug