Turns out, animated films are much harder to rate than I expected. I loved Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King…I could go on forever. Monsters, Inc., Kung Fu Panda, The Rescuers…okay, seriously. Gun to my head, these are my top 6:
The Sword in the Stone: This awesome flick made in 1963 was so fucking magical to me as a kid. And no, I was not yet alive in 1963 but I did see it a couple decades later and it made me laugh and swoon and cry and feel every other warm and snuggly feeling a little girl is capable of. Even thinking about it now gives me goosebumps. The songs and the magic and the animals and the wizard’s duel with Madam Mim. And the fact that it’s such a total underdog story – yes, even then I was a sucker for the underdog.
Toy Story: Though I did enjoy the 2nd and 3rd sequels, neither really compared to the original. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen set a new standard with regard to cartoon voices. They totally sold it- the humor, the conflict, the banter- immersing their audience completely in the secret lives of our toys.
How To Train Your Dragon: Toothless and Hiccup are the most adorable, heartwarming duo since Shaggy and Scooby Doo. I watched this because my nephew insisted on it and, not knowing what to expect, I assumed it’d be as cute and bland as most animated films made in the past few years. Within minutes, I knew this was something truly special – something as magical and stirring as my favorites from childhood. Since that first viewing, I’ve watched it three more times (with no child around to “make” me) and each time, found myself engrossed in the story and characters and loving every minute of it.
Beauty & the Beast: The French countryside, the ominous castle, the animated teacups and candlesticks, the threatening woods and wolves, the forbidden west wing, the enchanted rose, the music, the dancing…what could be more magical and captivating than all of that?
Finding Nemo: The very thought of this movie makes my heart swell like I’m the Grinch on Christmas. From Bruce the great white trying to conquer his carnivorous appetite to Dory speaking whale- this flick made me laugh out loud as well as tear up. The genius of it! A fish with short-term memory loss? A neurotic, control-freak clown fish? A totally gnarly surfer-dude sea turtle? Each and every character is not only cute and warm, they’re cool as hell. Nemo and Marlin and Dory- if I believed in reincarnation, I’d pray to come back as an inhabitant of their sea anemone.
Shrek: This flick was the first (that I could remember) animated movie that aimed to entertain both kids and adults, with the adult-oriented humor artful enough to go right over the heads of the children and the child-oriented humor silly enough to keep them interested. It’s just so fucking smart! I saw it in college and laughed almost non-stop. I loved the pop culture references (the Otis Redding throw-back, Monsieur Hood and the Merry Men) and the spin on the old-as-time fairy tale. And Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy were completely PERFECT. Topping it all off, the fantastic soundtrack! From Halfcocked’s “Bad Reputation” to the soul-wrenching “Hallelujah,” sung so poetically by John Cale, each and every song fit so well and helped turn this child’s movie into a film to span the generations.