Odds are you have a favorite Disney movie. After nearly eight decades and 52 movies in the "animated classics canon," with films spanning every genre and style, there are plenty to choose from, after all. Are a fan of musicals, comedies or dramas? Do you prefer one of the timeless classics or do you find yourself watching a favorite from the Disney Renaissance? Are you committed to traditional hand-drawn animation or have you accepted the move to computer-generated graphics? Whatever your tastes, the Disney animated classic library has it covered.
I am a giant Disney fan. So with the release of Frozen, the 53rd animated "classic" arriving later this November, I've decided to rank all 52 films, so far, from worst to best. When compiling the list, I took into account three factors that make a task like this reasonable.
Firstly, of course, is entertainment value. To what extent did audiences actually enjoy the film? Secondly, it's timelessness. Such a thing might be difficult to judge for newer films, but I tried to decipher which movies will hold up over the coming years (or have managed to do so already). And finally, and most importantly, I judge the overall quality of the film. This might seem somewhat opinion based, but when it comes to films that are well-known or respected, the work and effort the filmmakers have put in usually speaks for itself.
So sit back, relax and join me as I count down every movie in the canon, from the hardly watchable (yep, there are some) to those movies which hit all three targets: entertainment value, appeal over time, and quality of craft. I've tried to do all this whilst also taking into account popular opinion and critical analysis, because I wanted to make this list as accurate as possible. Without further ado, let's dive in...
The toughest part about compiling this list is that most of Disney's films are enjoyable in some way, shape or form, even if they're not ultimately great. So at some point on this list it will become difficult to place some of the most beloved Disney animated features in amongst the others. However, there are some films that are just plainly bad, and Home on the Range takes one of those spots - it's easily the worst film of the entire animation canon.
With some of the most awful storytelling in Disney's history, the poorest excuse for jokes, this cheap and lazy movie does not even seem like a Disney film. After the Disney Renaissance (the revitalisation of Disney animated flicks during the late 80s and throughout the 90s), it is impossible to understand how this film was ever made. The less said about it the better. Let's move onwards and upwards.
Don't be surprised when you see most of the package films (feature length collection of shorter segments) from the 1940s near the bottom of this list. While they may have segments that pass as somewhat entertaining, the overall quality shows the problems of the time with the studio. During this decade, Disney lost most of its filmmakers to the American military draft, overseas markets were cut due to World War II thus hurting revenue, and the government had Disney making propaganda films to support the war effort. And let's not forget the strike which was occurring at the studio at the same time.
So Fun & Fancy Free was one of the six package films made inexpensively as a result of the conditions described above. While it has its moments, it isn't particularly memorable. I swear I was calling it "Fun & Fancy Tree" months after watching it because it is so darn forgettable. After the initial hits inherent to Walt Disney's success, these package films proved ultimately disappointing and remain hard to sit through today.