The 12 Most Underrated Disney Movies Ever Made
By Jesse Schedeen
Disney practically rules Hollywood these days, but that hasn't always been the case. Disney went through many growing pains in the '80s and '90s, and a lot of great films wound up being under-appreciated. In honor of "The Fox and the Hound" turning 35, here are 12 Disney gems that deserve revisiting.
'The Rocketeer' (1991)
This comic book adaptation blended superhero action with an old-school, Indiana Jones-inspired approach to adventure. Sadly, "The Rocketeer" didn't bring in enough bank to win a sequel. But at least director Joe Johnston got a second chance at the formula with "Captain America: The First Avenger"
'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1996)
As successful as Disney's animated projects were in the early '90s, the company was never quite able to recapture that success in the latter half of the decade. The darker subject matter in this Victor Hugo adaptation might have turned away many, but that's exactly what made "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" unique in the first place.
Disney's followup to "Hunchback" was more crowd-pleasing, but still not a smash success on the level of "Aladdin" or "The Lion King." And it's too bad, because this mythological romp was funny and boasted a killer soundtrack.
'Dick Tracy' (1990)
Years before films like "300" hit the scene, "Dick Tracy" showed viewers what it was like when a comic book came to life on the big screen. The costume designs alone set this stylish, cartoony take of cops and robbers apart from the rest.
Though hardly the first film adaptation of the Tarzan saga, this animated epic served as a showcase of just how far Disney's animation technology had advanced over the course of the '90s. But by this point, audiences only cared for the 3D wizardry of Pixar.
'Iron Will' (1994)
Everyone loves a good underdog sports movie, especially when they involve a plucky but unlikely hero risking everything to achieve victory. This tale of a long-distance dog sled race hits all the right notes, but somehow has largely been forgotten.
'James and the Giant Peach' (1996)
This charming adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel is easily one of Disney's best and most inventive animated films from the '90s. The blend of claymation and live-action sequences was especially clever, but maybe that's exactly what turned audiences away.
'The Rescuers Down Under' (1990)
As a sequel to one of the lesser known entries in the Disney canon, "Rescuers Down Under" already had the deck stacked against it when it dropped in 1990. Despite the gorgeous animation and thrilling sense of adventure, this sequel was mostly drowned out by the fuss over its predecessor, "The Little Mermaid," and its successor, "Beauty and the Beast."
'A Goofy Movie' (1995)
This underrated Disney comedy is notable for promoting Goofy from Mickey's sidekick to full-fledged family man and star of his own animated adventure. What resulted was a surprisingly endearing story of a father struggling to connect with his teenage son.
This mid-level Disney hit is among the studio's first animated films to poke fun at typical fairy tale gender roles and deliver a strong, active female protagonist. It's also one of the last times we can remember Eddie Murphy enhancing a movie-going experience. "Mulan" doesn't get nearly enough credit for that.
Long before he was Batman, Christian Bale starred in this energetic musical inspired by the Newsboys Strike of 1899. It didn't impress audiences or critics at the time, but "Newsies" gained a considerable cult following on home video. Enough to inspire a hugely popular Broadway adaptation.
'Cool Runnings' (1992)
This '90s film is often dismissed for its less-than-accurate portrayal of the Jamaican national bobsleigh team's debut appearance at the Winter Olympics. But accurate or not, this movie offers a lighthearted and funny alternative to the usual underdog sports movie formula.