Eighty years ago last December, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had it's World Premiere, but it wasn't until the beginning of February that the rest of the country got to see Disney's first feature-length animated film. Over the last 80 years, the studio that became synonymous with animation has released a total of 56 theatrical films, and so, on this anniversary, and nearly a year before we see the 57th animated feature, it's a good time to look back at what's come before and take on the impossible task of actually ranking them.
No two people are going to have exactly the same list when ranking such a history of cinema, this one went through numerous iterations. We could still tweak a few things a little, but all in all, it's pretty good, based on quality, technical achievement, historical standing, and more. Give it a look, then give us your thoughts. From worst to first, here are all 56 films from Walt Disney Animation Studios.
56. Home on the Range
Home on the Range is a movie that there's a very good chance you forget even existed, and there's a reason for that. It's the single most forgettable Disney animated movie. It's an absolute shame that the one time Judi Dench lent her voice to a Disney film it was then dull and lifeless story. The fact that she plays second fiddle to Roseanne Barr is all the more confusing. Barr's appearance might have made sense if this movie came out in 1992, but in 2004, it's far too late for anything in this film to be relevant.
55. The Black Cauldron
The Black Cauldron nearly single-handedly killed Disney animation, and that's just the beginning of this one. The story crams together details from several different fantasy novels, and it's clear, as the various bits and pieces of the movie feel crammed together with little to no connective tissue explaining anything that happens. It has a protagonist who is utterly unlikeable from start to finish and side characters that are actually worse. It had such potential as a more mature Disney feature, and in another era, this would have been handled properly with an eye toward making this a franchise in its own right. Instead, we get an adventure made up of characters you'd never want to go on an adventure with in the first place.
54. The Aristocats
The Aristocats was the first feature without Walt Disney and it shows. It's got quite possibly the most useless villain in Disney history, and that's a fatal flaw when you're talking about films that include some of the best villains in all of cinema. The plot, overall, is utterly nonsensical, with a butler who attempts to kill his employer's cats after he learns they will inherit her fortune before the butler does. Not that the employer expects to be dead anytime soon, making the whole thing bizarre. Frequent Disney voice actor Phil Harris has done better work for Disney and so has Eva Gabor for that matter.
53. The Fox and the Hound
The Fox and the Hound isn't a bad movie, but if the idea were proposed today, there's no way it would get the green light. There just isn't enough of a story here. Disney has done small-scale stories before, but the emotional core of those is missing here. There just isn't enough to get a hold of and get invested in with The Fox and the Hound. No characters get fleshed out enough to become liked or hated, and that includes the characters in the title. It's a movie starring cute animals, and that's not nothing, but it's hardly enough.
52. Oliver and Company
While Disney was trying to find its way in the '80s, the studio released a version of Oliver Twist that saw the characters reimagined as animals in New York City. The premise isn't terrible, but the story gets so reimagined that little of the classic remains. The inclusion of Billy Joel as both the voice of Dodger, and part of the 80s pop soundtrack is about all you need to know about. The movie wants desperately to be cool, and as is usually the case, when you try to too hard, you end up having the opposite impact. There are some fun moments in Oliver and Company but the film is mostly forgettable overall.
51. Chicken Little
Chicken Little was one Disney's early forays into computer animation, and it shows. The animation hasn't held up and the story that goes along with it has just enough of a plot to be considered a movie. Much like Oliver and Company, it tries far too hard to be hip, which, especially now, has the effect of dating the material terribly. There's a kernel of a good idea in here, as the first part of the movie focuses on a son trying desperately to be accepted by his father, and that part works, but that story is pretty much over by the midpoint and all you have left are the space aliens.