In the lead-up to the release of the live-action The Little Mermaid, Consequence will be looking back at the Disney Renaissance and how it shaped our culture. This time, we’re sharing the animated Disney movies, streaming on Disney+, we feel have been the most underrated over the years.
Each new Disney film is loaded with potential, and more often than not, they become revered by generations young and old. But a company with a bar as high as Disney’s can’t always provide box office smashes or garner critical acclaim, like the dull Home on the Range or the bloated Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Several Disney films are immediate successes, and some take several years to get their due. For every Snow White, The Little Mermaid, and Frozen, there are smaller, less ubiquitous titles that are nonetheless deserving of the same fandom and praise.
That’s right, we’re talking about Disney’s hidden gems, the underappreciated marvels. Every era can’t be a “Renaissance,” but Disney has a habit of sneaking cinematic glory in the most unlikely stories. For starters, it’s worth noting that while many Disney films have been overlooked, panned, or otherwise forgotten, many have earned that status for a reason: We latch onto the stories that inspire us, and shrug off the ones that fail to reach us.
On the other hand, several films seemed destined for failure at the time, but have nonetheless become revered classics. As one example, 2000’s The Emperor’s New Groove was mired in production issues, rewrites, and delays, and despite its initial critical reception, it became beloved by many millennials and zoomers (this writer included). Essentially, it can’t be considered “underrated,” because its legacy and stature is generally renowned.
But there are dozens of films that fall into a grey area, featuring characters and concepts that deserve a bit more credit than we’ve historically given. So take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of these underrated yet worthy titles.
— Paolo Ragusa