The 15 most underappreciated animated films EVER

How could you miss out on these gems?

best animated disney films

by Emma Dodds |
Updated on

I'm about to write something very controversial that I very seldom utter aloud.

Before I say it, I need you all to understand how deeply I love and care for Disney films. I can recite almost every single line and lyric to my favourite Disney – nay, all-time film:__ The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Play me two seconds of a Disney song and I'll tell you what film it's in, who sings it, what is happening in the film at that time and probably the year it came out.

Now that you understand the level of commitment that I have to films such as these ,I feel I can tell you.

I THINK FROZEN IS OVERRATED. Ahh. It feels so good to finally admit this.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely 100% WANTED to love it. I tried to love Frozen, I really did. And I don't hate it by any means whatsoever.I just don't love it.

I could go into the reasons why, but this isn't a Frozen-bashing – no, this is simply a list to recognise other films that are perhaps more-deserving of everyone's love.

SO. If you've gotten a bit bored with watching the same old animated musical films – either with your children or just on your tod in your spare time (no judgement here), be inspired by this comprehensive list of awesome films that I personally feel should be given more credit.

Check out the most underrated Disney films EVER


Closer - The 15 most underappreciated animated films EVER

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CREDIT: Disney

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney, 1996

I know I've already mentioned that this is my favourite, but I've only included it because practically no-one else in the Closer Online office has seen it. Admittedly, it is a little dark and ever so slightly gruesome, but the songs are by far and away some of the best that Disney song-master Alan Menken has ever written.It tells the tale of Quasimodo, a disfigured man who lives in the bell tower of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. He was brought up by Judge Frollo, an evil man who killed Quasimodo's mother, unbeknownst to him. Enter a beautiful gypsy who has a hilarious and sassy pet goat, a soldier and some talking gargoyles – what more do you need?!

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CREDIT: Don Bluth

Thumbelina, Don Bluth, 1994

Based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, Thumbelina is a story of death-defying love, the importance of family – and a tiny, tiny girl. Grown from a flower, Thumbelina (voiced by Jodi Benson AKA Ariel from The Little Mermaid) is somewhat mollycoddled by her loving but slightly over-protective mum.When she goes on an adventure with the fairy Prince Cornelius, she falls deeply in love. But the two are separated by a family of Spanish toads, a beetle, a mole – and the deathly dangerous winter. Will they ever make it back together? You'll be singing Let Me Be Your Wings for WEEKS.

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CREDIT: Disney

The Princess and the Frog, Disney, 2009

You know the story of The Frog Prince, right? A prince gets turned into a frog and only true love's kiss can break the spell and make him human again. But who's going to fall in love with a frog? Well that's where things get interesting. In THIS version, he does get a kiss, but it has the opposite effect – turning TIANA into a frog too. Go on – you know you want to.

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CREDIT: DreamWorks

The Prince of Egypt, DreamWorks, 1998

Tell you what, if you're looking to teach your kids about Moses and the Ten Plagues of Egypt, you could do a lot worse than to show them this. It's not EXACTLY spot on for historical accuracy, but you've not come here to watch documentaries, have you? Be warned – it is pretty dark and it will DEFINITELY tug at your heartstrings, but it's a must-see if you want your children to be interested in religion or history.

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CREDIT: Disney

Pocahontas, Disney, 1995

If you're wanting your kids to watch Frozen because you think Elsa is a fantastic female role model, get them in front of this classic. Pocahontas is the daughter of the chief who is expected to marry the handsome (and boring) lead warrior who is leading the charge against the American invaders. But when she chooses to make her own choices and follows her heart, it leads her right to one of them... I dare you to watch this without shedding a tear at the end.

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CREDIT: Disney

Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Disney, 2001

If you're reading this thinking, 'Pish posh, I've seen ALL of these films – what are you on about?!' – then this film could be the one that stumps you. Atlantis is one of only a few major Disney movies NOT to feature any singing or songs. Based on the legend of the lost city of Atlantis, Milo Thatch is a scientist who believes the place is real and that he can find it. If you're a fan of Avatar, you'll like this.

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CREDIT: DreamWorks

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, DreamWorks, 2002

Animators took a different route with Spirit. Whilst in The Aristocats, 101 Dalmatians and The Jungle Book the animals all spoke, in Spirit they don't. The film is narrated by main character, but the horses don't actually speak to each other. Whilst it's very interesting, it can be tough to sit through a film where there's only really one person speaking, but it's a story well worth watching as it teaches children the morals of using animals – Spirit is a wild stallion who is captured and taken from his herd, then used as a war horse. Of course, it has a very happy ending!

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CREDIT: Disney

Oliver and Company, Disney, 1988

Oh LORDY now this is an exemplary case of a remake. Oliver & Company is plain and simply the story of Oliver Twist – but with cats and dogs substituted in. And the occasional human. Featuring the vocal talents of Billy Joel, both speaking and singing, there are some bliddy catchy songs in there. But there are a few scary bits, so if you're watching with kids... Make sure they're ready to cover your eyes.

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CREDIT: New Line Cinema

The Swan Princess, New Line Cinema, 1994

This largely unknown film is based on the story of Swan Lake by Tcahikovsky. It's all about Princess Odette who has been betrothed to Prince Derek since birth, but when her father is killed and she disappears, everyone assumes she's dead too. She's not – she's just been turned into a swan. But guess what's the only thing that can wake her up? Yep, true love's kiss. This film wasn't a HUGE success, but it's one of those that you can learn to love...

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CREDIT: DreamWorks

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, DreamWorks, 2003

Featuring Brad Pitt, Michelle Pfeiffer and Catherine Zeta-Jones, this visually stunning film should have been a sure-fire success. Sadly, it had a massive $125 million loss which nearly bankrupted the company.But don't let that put you off – it's an exciting and intriguing story of adventure and finding yourself and include some VERY weird and wonderful creatures. Oh, and there's a lovable dog. What more could you need?!

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CREDIT: Disney

Brother Bear, Disney, 2003

If you/your sprog's a fan of Big Hero 6, it's essentially a pre-cursor to Brother Bear. Except with no gadgets or universities. And this time it's got bears and spirits. The main character, Sitka, is devastated when a bear kills his brother so he kills one in revenge. But he's not prepared for what happens next… Brother Bear teaches the importance of family, and not necessarily those you are related to – but the ones you pick for yourself.

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CREDIT: DreamWorks

The Road to El Dorado, DreamWorks, 2000

The Road to El Dorado is a story about two Spanish con artists who win a map to a secret island. Once there, they find the lost city of El Dorado – and the inhabitants (for reasons I just can't get my head around) mistake them for gods.When they realise the power that comes with being gods and see all the gold that the islanders have, they decide to use it to their advantage. But there's a scary chap who has some sort of magic powers and it all goes a bit downhill for everyone involved. Of course, there's a happy ending.

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CREDIT: Warner Bros.

The Iron Giant, Warner Bros., 1999

The Iron Giant is about a little boy who discovers a giant man made of iron (obvs) and befriends him. However, the United States Government are onto the giant, and fear he is a weapon sent from outer space. They're half right...Featuring Vin Diesel as the voice of the eponymous Giant, Jennifer Aniston as the mum and Harry Connick Jr. as an artist/car dealer, it's surprising that this epic didn't take off as much as it could have.

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CREDIT: Disney

Treasure Planet, Disney, 2002

This sci-fi reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous classic Treasure Island may be a strange concept to wrap your head around, especially with creatures like cyborg pirates and alien-cat-women. Well, there's only one of those – voiced by Emma Thompson, no less. Joseph Gordon-Levitt voices Jim Hawkins, a young lad who goes on an adventure to escape his upsetting memories of his dad leaving him without even saying goodbye. And, well, you know the rest.

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CREDIT: Disney

The Rescuers, Disney, 1977

The only way you're not going to absolutely love this film is if you're terrified of mice. And even then, sweet little Bernard and Miss Bianca might win you round.A terrified little orphan girl has been kidnapped by a nasty woman who keeps crocodiles as pets (I mean, come on), and who is looking to steal the world's biggest diamond. The little girl sends a message in a bottle in the hope of being rescued, which gets picked up by Miss Bianca and Bernard at the United Nations Mouse Division and they go on a quest to rescue her. It's heart-warming and thrilling in equal measures.

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How to create the ultimate animated film night

First, snacks. Whether it's popcorn, nachos or ice cream, the best film night always include plenty of your favourite treats.

Next, setting. Pull down the blind and set up the surround-sound because it's home cinema time.

Make sure your sofa (or bed) has plenty of comfy pillows and blankets and turn down the lights for that cinema effect.

For a film night to end all film nights, why not try some of our suggestions back to back?

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