Disney is a mega studio when it comes to amazing movies. There’s no denying that. They have created some of the most beautiful worlds, staged some amazing musical numbers, have stunning animation, and wonderful acting in the live-action films they produce. But, Disney movies have been around for decades now. While many can look back fondly on most of their films, there are some that have been completely forgotten about.
Some were hidden gems that went under the radar, but should have become popular like Frozen or Moana. While there are decades of films that could be included on this list, this one is only going to cover the last 20 years. Here are some Disney movies you may not remember.
Chicken Little (2005)
A part of me still can’t believe that Chicken Little was Disney’s first attempt at a CGI-animated film.
Don’t get me wrong, when I was a kid and had no other idea, I loved this movie for the fart jokes and everything else, but it's kind of a mess and just doesn’t feel…Disney. When I think of Disney, I always think of clear-cut animation, a decent storyline, and really great scores. With this, I got really poorly-timed jokes, creepy-looking character design, and a story that feels – not going to lie – half-assed.
Maybe they were trying to do what Dreamworks did with Shrek and subvert expectations for what audiences were expecting to see from Disney, but I think this film is better off forgotten.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
I totally blame the failure of this amazing movie for why Disney stopped hand-drawn animation from their studio for so long. Atlantis: The Lost Empire was a beautifully animated 2D film that decided to step into different territory for Disney – it wasn’t a musical.
Disney was just coming off the ropes of their more than a decade long Renaissance period with their films, and almost every one was a musical of some degree. This was a big leap for them. The score was phenomenal, the characters relatable, and the 2D visuals were out of this world for a Disney movie at the time.
But, that’s the thing. Because Disney took all those different leaps, it didn’t do as well at the box office, and all sequels were let go of. It’s a shame, too, because this could have been an amazing series. Sad to say, many folks have never heard of this film when thinking of Disney.
The Jungle Book 2 (2003)
Let me tell you that when I discovered there was a sequel to The Jungle Book, a movie that had come out decades prior to this, I was shocked and wanted to know how good this movie was. When I first saw it, I instantly thought it had to be a Direct-to-DVD sequel because it just wasn’t good.
Then I saw it had a theatrical release. Turns out it was meant for a DVD release, but they decided to take it to the theaters. Blech.
This sequel horrible. The animation is somehow even worse than the previous The Jungle Book, even though that movie came out in 1967. The inclusion of a girl into the story didn’t feel organic at all, and don’t even get me started on the music. It was such a downgrade from the original. If you want to stick to one new Jungle Book, watch the live-action.
Home On The Range (2004)
I feel like Home on the Range is another symptom of how the shift from hand-drawn to CGI really killed this movie. It’s not that Home on the Range is a bad film that deserves to be forgotten. Really, it’s the opposite. The story is decent, the soundtrack is great (I mean, it’s composed by Alan Menken, how can it not be?), and some of the animation is really awesome.
So, why did Home on the Range fail to keep audiences interested? Simple. It was overtaken in the age of CGI. You see, Disney may have had its golden years prior to this, but around this time, Pixar was starting to become the best place for animation. They had The Incredibles come out, and two years prior, they had Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc., two fantastic films in their own right.
The demographic started to switch, and more people leaned towards those films. It’s a shame, but it’s the truth. It’s why rarely see a hand-drawn film these days.
Meet The Robinsons (2007)
Each time I watch this movie, I ask myself: Why couldn’t we have gotten this first instead of Chicken Little? Meet the Robinsons is so underrated. It pairs a beautiful story with some decent animation from Disney, considering they hadn’t had many attempts into the CGI world at this point. Not only that, but the voice cast was amazing. I mean you have Angela Basset and Tom Kenny in the same cast? The voice of Spongebob Squarepants himself?! How could it go so wrong?
The simple answer is that it just wasn’t the right time. While Meet the Robinsons is a great film, Pixar was at the top of its game. It had just come out with Ratatouille, with three other films (two of which were nominated for Best Picture) planned along the way that had basically done so much more than Disney could at the time in regards to CGI. More people went towards those films than ones like this, where the animation just wasn’t the best it could be yet.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)
Disney isn’t necessarily known for their live-action movies for a reason. But, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was decent, even if it's basically just a live-action version of that one scene from Fantasia. One part of the movie is quiet literally copied from the movie to movie.
I think the main issue with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the timing. This was the beginning of the end for the Harry Potter saga. It was hard to top magic-wise, and this movie proves that. It was all fun and all, but just didn’t feel like it had that same spark as previous magic movies had, so it went under the radar.
Even so, it’s not too bad to watch. And, Nicolas Cage is pretty great in this, too.
Don’t even get me started on this movie. It doesn’t deserve to have come out the same year as Frozen. It’s a blatant spin-off of Cars without even trying to hide it, basically saying “Ooooh, what if plaaaaanes had feelings?!” and they ran the idea into the ground.
The only thing I’m more disappointed about is that the first film made enough money, so this got a sequel and Atlantis: The Lost Empire didn’t. I’m over this!
Into The Woods (2014)
Disney is known for having amazing musicals in the past, but this adaption of this famous Broadway musical Into the Woods has pretty much been forgotten. It’s not that the cast wasn’t great and the singing was that bad. I mean, Meryl Streep rocks her role as The Witch, and many others do a great job.
But, at the same time, it just doesn’t have that same spark as many other Disney musicals. The chemistry of the actors feels off, and some of the scenes feel like they don’t coherently work together. This isn’t one of those musicals where you feel the need to watch it again and again for fun, like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Once you’re done watching Into the Woods, it usually ends up forgotten. It’s just a bit boring.
There are plenty of other films out there that we didn’t cover, but these are just some of the bigger ones. Which Disney movies do you think have been forgotten over time?
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!