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Top 10 Underrated Disney Animated Movies

Updated on February 21, 2014
Cover for the re-release of Oliver & Company on DVD.
Cover for the re-release of Oliver & Company on DVD. | Source

#10: Oliver & Company

Released in 1988, right before The Little Mermaid lead the way for the "Disney Renaissance" Oliver & Company bursts onto the screen. A clever play on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, this movie had star power, awesome songs, and a cast of fun loving animal characters.

Starring Billy Joel as the street wise Dodger, Joey Lawerence as Oliver the small orange cat (and films title character), and Bette Midler as Georgette, a spoiled rich poodle, this movie didn't seem like it could fail.

Despite being a fun movie, the film didn't exactly go over well with critics, Disney hasn't really paid much attention to the movie since then, other than the occasional merchandise popping up here and there. It's really sad to see such a fun movie not get the glorification most Disney movies do.


#9: The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

The sequel can never outshine the original, (at least in my opinion) but Disney's 1998 direct to video sequel to The Lion King sure did try!

With 1994's The Lion King being one of the most beloved animated movies in history, the sequel had a lot to live up to. This movie went in a different direction, telling to the story of Simba and Nala's daughter Kiara. The story takes on a Romeo & Juliet story with Kiara falling for Kovu, one of The Outlander's (lions Simba had exiled from the Pridelands) children.

Depsite being known as a successful and all around good film, this movie rarely gets acknowledged by Disney. Although He Lives In You gets played in the theme parks every now and again. Maybe one day Disney will link these two together and have it be The Lion King Saga.

(And we'll just forget The Lion King 1 1/2 ever happened.)


#8: The Fox And The Hound

This movie not getting much love from Disney is really a touchy place for me because it happens to be my personal favorite Disney movie (and on a good day, just favorite movie) of all time.

Released in 1981, The Fox and The Hound was well reviewed by critics and was a financial success at the box office. The film tells the story of an unlikely friendship that blossoms between Todd a young fox and Copper a hound puppy. As children, the two don't understand why their friendship is an abnormality, but once they hit adulthood, the real struggle between friendship and reality begins.

The film doesn't end with the traditional Disney happy ending, rather Todd and Copper go their separate ways after an intense altercation with their friendship ultimately emerging victorious. That could be the reason Disney doesn't tend to push this fun cartoon to the forefront.

But with great songs such as Best of Friends, you really can't go wrong with this movie. There are many fans of the film and merchandise featuring characters from the 80s movie quickly become hot items when released. Here's hoping Disney finds a place for this classic and brings it out from the shadows.

Meet The Robinsons movie poster, with a very appropriate tag line.
Meet The Robinsons movie poster, with a very appropriate tag line. | Source

#7: Meet The Robinsons

Meet The Robinsons is one of the more recent movies featured on the list. Released in 2007, Meet The Robinsons was a quirky, animated, comedy that had you laughing and featured enough Disney references to put a smile on any Disney fan's face.

Lewis is the main character of the film, he's an orphan with the gift of science and imagination. Lewis is constantly coming up with new ideas and inventions; he remains himself, even if that means he never finds the family he's always wanted. Lewis is then taken to the future to help fix a time machine, where he meets his future family.

All in all, this movie is a great fun to watch and has a wonderful soundtrack. Rob Thomas' Little Wonders is one of my favorite Disney songs to come out in the last decade and the soundtrack also featured good songs by The All-American Rejects and (believe it or not) The Jonas Brothers.

Through the years though, Disney has slowly let this movie fall to the wayside. Granted it may not be the money making powerhouse that Tangled turned into, but it's still a great movie.


#6: The Rescuers

Mickey and Minnie aren't the only cute little mice Disney has come up with, in 1977 Bernard and Bianca made there debut on screen in The Rescuers.

A film was one of the more successful Disney films of its time in fact, the biggest success between 1967's The Jungle Book and 1989's The Little Mermaid. The story features the previously mentioned Bernard and Bianca going to rescue a young girl named Penny.

With the film being such a success in the box-office and getting wonderful reviews from critics, it's hard to believe that Disney fails to acknowledge this film. It seems to skip over this time period entirely, with even The Aristocats gaining more attention. But with this successful film (which even garnered a sequel with The Rescuers: Down Under in 1990) just being left to sit and go unnoticed, it leaves me to wonder if we'll see more films get the same treatment in the future.


#5: 101 Dalmatians

While the official title of this film is indeed: One Hundred and One Dalmatians, who has time for that when we have a three digit number...right?

This 1961 classic is looked at as one of the most beloved Disney animated classics of all time, but it seems like they don't really know what to do with it. Without the occasional merchandise appearance of a puppy or the film's classic villain Cruella De Vil, you don't see too much of this spectacular film.

The film has garnered some "Disney reboots" over the years if you will. In 1996 we got a live action version of the tale staring Glenn Close at Cruella De Vil. (Which in my personal opinion is one of the best character roles I've seen in a while, she was just fantastic.) The live action movie's success got a sequel in 2000, appropriately called 102 Dalmatians. Back in the animated world, we saw the film get an animated sequel 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure in 2003. We also got a TV series featuring the puppies and Cruella that ran from 1997-1998.

So the film has received some nods from Disney in the film spinoff world, but the actual classic fails to receive the love that some get. Hopefully soon we see more spots posing in those family portraits next to Mickey.


#4: Bolt

Bolt is one of those films that I've heard that sad quote about, "Oh, I thought that was Dreamworks." No, it wasn't dreamworks, it was a Disney movie, and dare I say it, a pretty dang good one at that!

A critical and financial success, Bolt really hasn't garnered the admiration like other films that came out around its time. The film tells of a dog named what else, Bolt. Bolt is a television superhero action star that becomes lost, the only problem Bolt has, is that he thinks he's a real superhero. After he loses his way, his mission becomes finding his girl, Penny. (Rescuers connection anybody?) During the way he runs into Mittens (a stray cat) and Rhino (a hamster in a ball) who make a wonderful team for the remainder of the film

Who knows why Disney hasn't given Bolt the credit it has given to more of the Studio's recent projects. Maybe it's the casting? John Travolta and Miley Cyrus have both been under microscopes as of late or maybe it's that the film lacks the songs and a soundtracks that Disney productions are usually known for. Whatever the reason, here's hoping this 2008 smash is given some credit where it's due.


#3: Bambi

No Disney film has ever really tugged at your heartstrings more than Bambi. In 1942, this big eyed little deer took its first steps onto the screens and into our hearts. Being only the Walt Disney Studio's fifth production, Bambi is one of the classics of all animation in general.

Being the success that it is, it's very surprising that you don't see more Bambi represented in the Disney theme parks and in general merchandise. In fact you see a bit more of Bambi's pal Thumper than you do of Bambi himself.

This tale of a young deer who loses his mother is a tale that made many a generation terrified to go hunting, but we still wait on eggshells to see if it gets the nod that Snow White and Pinocchio have gotten in the merchandise and theme parks worlds of Disney.

One of my favorite movie posters ever!
One of my favorite movie posters ever! | Source

#2: Wall-E

This futuristic tale has led me to personally fear for the future of mankind in general. 2008's Wall-E won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was one of the highest grossing films of that year. (Sorry Bolt)

This tale shows Earth in the future, where the entire planet has been evacuated and left to be cleaned by cleaner robots. The last of these robots is the films title character Wall-E. The film turns into a love story as Wall-E falls for Eve, a robot sent to find new forms of life on Earth.

This film was one of the more successful of the Disney-Pixar partnership, but fails to get the marketing and push that other films Pixar has produced have gotten. There's never too much Wall-E merchandise put out and there's certainly a void of him inside the Disney theme parks.

With a film that gained this kind of praise, it's strange to see Disney let it begin to fade away. With Wall-E and Bolt both being on this list, it seems that 2008 just wasn't really the year for Disney Animated films.


#1: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

At last we've arrived at Number 1! The most underrated Disney movie on this list is: Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Now I know this list has been focusing more on the animated side of things, but this movie is a fair mix of both live-action and animation. But most importantly it is very underrated.

This 1988 film (Originally released under Disney's Touchstone Pictures label) is one of the most popular films I can think of, I've never really met somebody who doesn't like this film. It's clever, witty, and has been praised by critics and fans alike, turning it into a cult classic. The film tells the story of Roger Rabbit, who has been framed for murder, and of Eddie Valiant, the private detective trying to help Roger clear his name.

Who hundreds of cartoon cameos and memorable quotes, this movie is a must watch whenever you might stumble across it.

With the films obvious success, Roger was huge in the Disney parks in the late 80s to mid 90s, but has seemed to be slowly but surely removed from the theme park picture over the last decade. The only real reference to him is Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, a ride in Disneyland's Toontown. But Roger himself in the parks is now a character that is rarely spotted.

Maybe it's the success that Roger gained following the movie, the fact that the movie isn't the most family friendly film that Disney has associated itself with, or maybe it's Roger's wife Jessica Rabbit being a full formed character. Who knows why Disney is trying to put this classic on the backburner, but as fans we all know, that's not going to happen!

You Decide!

Which Film Do You Think Is Disney's Most Underrated?

See results


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      How is frickin 101 Dalmations above meet the robinsons

    • Christian813 profile image

      Christian Álvarez 

      4 years ago from Tamaulipas, México

      I had never heard about the rescuers... I mean it.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I would never call those last 3 movies underrated. Bambi is still considered a classic, Roger Rabbit is a technical masterpiece and Wall-E is just plain overrated.

    • crystolite profile image


      4 years ago from Houston TX

      am a sucker for cartoons.I love watching cartoons especially disney animated movies and wally bros movies.its fun watching them always.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      In recent years I think Bambi has been put back in the spotlight, but I do agree with the rest of these choice.

    • BeyondGS profile image


      4 years ago from Ohio

      Good list, but I would add the Great Mouse Detective. Although I agree with most of the list, I would take out Wall-E just for the fact it's Pixar (I know it's one of the more underrated Pixar films, but I'm sure many have seen and liked it at least from what I've noticed). Bambi isn't mentioned as much, but I think it gets its credit more than the Great Mouse Detective. That's what is great about top ten lists though, you can always disagree about some things. Good job!

    • kotobukijake profile image


      4 years ago

      I agree that Bolt and The Rescuers are sorely underrated (though I grew up more familiar with The Rescuers Down Under, and would be tempted to include both films on a list of this sort). The same is probably true of The Fox and the Hound and 101 Dalmatians, and it does seem that the spotlight has dimmed on Bambi and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Certainly those are all great films worthy of more recognition than they get. Honestly, though, as much as I LOVE WALL-E, I find it hard to call the film particularly underrated, except perhaps for the fact that it was blatantly snubbed by the Academy for Best Picture consideration. If I were making this list myself, I think I'd be inclined to include Robin Hood and The Sword and the Stone. I know both films remain popular, but they strike me as being at least as overlooked nowadays as several of your picks, and I personally consider both indisputable classics.

    • Susan Recipes profile image


      4 years ago from India

      I love watching Disney Movies. Thanks for sharing this.


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