51 in 2011

My Top 10 and Thanks

Walt Disney Animation Studios logo

Image © Disney

All done! After watching all 51 feature films this year made by the Walt Disney Animation Studios, here are my five least favorite and ten (well, eleven) most favorite Disney animated motion pictures listed in order of release date.

MY BOTTOM 5
“The Three Caballeros” (1945)
“The Sword in the Stone” (1963)
‘The Fox and the Hound” (1981)
“The Black Cauldron” (1985)
“Dinosaur” (2000)

MY TOP 10 (ACTUALLY 11)
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)
“Bambi” (1942)
“Cinderella” (1950)
“Peter Pan” (1953)
“Sleeping Beauty” (1959)
“101 Dalmatians” (1961)
“The Rescuers” (1977) / “The Rescuers Down Under” (1990) (I couldn’t decide which one…)
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)
“Aladdin” (1992)
“Tangled” (2010)

A huge thank you to all of the artists and staff at the Walt Disney Animation Studios for making these 51 films. And thanks to all of you for following along during 2011. Happy movie watching to you and yours in 2012!

http://www.disneyanimation.com

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51 in 2011

“Winnie the Pooh”

Winnie the Pooh

Image © Disney

“Winnie the Pooh” (2011), Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 51st animated motion picture. Disney returns their Pooh franchise to its roots with a high-quality, traditionally animated feature film. While made for the youngsters, it’s still a clever (and funny) throwback for adults. The beautiful animation is wonderfully reminiscent of the original short film from the 1960s. That cute Zooey Deschanel sings the title track and some other songs in the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daF6fV7BRfQ&feature=channel_video_title.

http://www.disneyanimation.com

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51 in 2011

“Tangled”

Tangled

Image © Disney

“Tangled” (2010), Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 50th animated motion picture. Disney’s take on the Rapunzel story. It’s also Disney’s first 3D computer animated fairy tale. This time, Rapunzel escapes her famous tower with the help of Flynn Rider, a Romeo and wanted thief. My list of things I like about this film is as long as Rapunzel’s hair. A beautifully animated, clever, funny and touching film. The perfect vocal cast includes Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, Zachary Levi as Flynn Ryder and Donna Murphy as the evil-to-the-core Mother Gothel. “Something brought you here, Flynn Rider. Call it what you will–fate…destiny…” “A horse.”

http://www.disneyanimation.com

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51 in 2011

“The Princess and the Frog”

The Princess and the Frog

Image © Disney

“The Princess and the Frog” (2009), Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 49th animated motion picture. A fun, if uneven, American fairy tale set during the Jazz Age in New Orleans. It’s also a return to traditional hand-drawn, or 2D, animation for the studio after previous management had abandoned the art form in 2004. Our human heroine, Tiana (sublimely voiced by the beautiful and talented Anika Noni Rose), becomes a frog herself after kissing “a frog prince.” The two of them, along with Louis the trumpet playing alligator and Ray the love-sick firefly, have a big adventure in the Bayou and at Mardi Gras trying to right the wrongs done to them by the evil Dr. Facilier, a wonderfully bad villain in the great Disney tradition. While the film has top-notch visuals and music, it’s a bit lacking in the story department. Still, it’s great to see Disney doing hand-drawn animation again. “Dreams do come true in New Orleans.”

http://www.disneyanimation.com

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51 in 2011

“Bolt”

Bolt

Image © Disney

“Bolt” (2008), Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 48th animated motion picture. A low-key and very funny road movie about a TV star dog named Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) who tries to find his way home to his beloved owner after he is accidentally shipped from Hollywood to New York City. Along the way he meets up with a declawed but resourceful cat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman from “Curb Your Enthusiasm”—don’t worry, she doesn’t use her character’s signature word in this film) and an overly enthusiastic hamster named Rhino (hilariously voiced by Utah native and then Disney animator Mark Walton). The film has great wit and wonderful attention to detail. Brilliant character animation is paired with subtle backgrounds that look like they are from an Edward Hopper painting. The child-in-peril finale (which is one of my least favorite, if not very least favorite, plot devices) is, thankfully, handled in a tasteful and meaningful way. The film is truly entertaining from start to finish. “Let it begin!”

http://www.disneyanimation.com

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51 in 2011

“Meet the Robinsons”

Meet the Robinsons

Image © Disney

“Meet the Robinsons” (2007), Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 47th animated motion picture. The film tells the story of Lewis, an orphan who invents a “memory scanner” machine that will help him remember back to the day when his birth mother brought him to the orphanage. A visitor from the future enters the scene and changes Lewis’ life forever. While the time travel concept is really cool along with the film’s singular style, I felt the “meet the family” component was crowded, disjointed, overly busy and ultimately unsatisfying (it is called “Meet the Robinsons” after all…). However, I appreciated how the film deals with its poignant themes of adoption, family, living in the present and having faith in the future. The ending makes it all worthwhile. Based on the children’s book A Day with Wilbur Robinson, written and illustrated by William Joyce, who also served as a producer on the film. “Keep moving forward.”

http://www.disneyanimation.com

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51 in 2011

“Chicken Little”

Chicken Little

Image © Disney

“Chicken Little” (2005), Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 46th animated motion picture. After the unfortunate “the sky is falling” incident, Chicken Little tries to make amends and restore his reputation. He starts to make progress until he finds out that maybe the sky really did fall after all… (I won’t spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen the movie.) While the film has a few shortcomings, I find this wacky comedy to be quite clever and funny. I love the “squash and stretch” of the characters, a 2D animation staple that the animators were able to achieve using 3D computer animation tools and techniques. The vocal cast is great, too. Zach Braff is Chicken Little, Joan Cusack is the Ugly Duckling (aka Abby Mallard), Don Knotts is Turkey Lurkey, Amy Sedaris is Foxy Loxy and Steve Zahn is Runt of the Litter (my favorite).

The film was Disney’s first full-length animated feature done entirely using 3D computer animation and was the start of a new slate of 3D computer animated films from the Disney Studios. “Chicken Little” also represents a tumultuous time at the Walt Disney Company which is really hard to separate from the film (a summary written in 2005 is here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/michael-eisner-says-disneys-sky-isnt-falling?pagenumber=1). Thankfully, as mentioned in my last blog entry, those days are over and, as Chicken Little says, “Today is a new day.”

http://www.disneyanimation.com

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