16 Underrated Animated Movies You Need to See
Sure, you could watch "Toy Story" for the 1,000th time ... or you could discover an underrated animated film you haven't seen yet. Especially "Rise of the Guardians," which celebrates its fifth anniversary this week. Here are some of the best (but lesser-seen) animated films, including some that are not for kids.
'The Iron Giant' (1999)
This lovely movie about a comics-loving boy, who finds his own giant robot at the height of the Cold War, has rightly become a beloved cult classic. And rightly so, given that is was sorely overlooked when it first came out. It's a rare, non-Disney film that pulls at the heartstrings.
'Lilo & Stitch' (2002)
An alien who loves Elvis and surfing failed to catch on in 2002, but "Lilo & Stitch" has since developed a devoted fan base who appreciate its many charms. It spawned two-direct-to-video sequels, a TV series, and a Japanese anime remake.
Neil Gaiman's tale of a girl (Dakota Fanning) who wishes for the perfect mother -- and then gets an eerie version of her in a parallel world -- was recently parodied by "The Simpsons" on its annual "Treehouse of Horrors."
'Your Name' (2016)
In this award-winning Japanese film, a teenage boy and girl magically swap bodies -- then go on an epic quest to meet each other. (So, kinda like "Sense8." Minus the orgies.) A live-action remake is in the works from J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot.
'Rise of the Guardians' (2012)
Jack Frost (Chris Pine) teams up with other mythic heroes -- including North (aka Santa, voiced by Alec Baldwin) and Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny, voiced by Hugh Jackman) -- to save the world from Pitch Black (Jude Law). This is arguably the most visually stunning film from DreamWorks animation.
'Loving Vincent' (2017)
The first film in which every frame is oil-painted by hand is done in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. It's also a whodunit of sorts about the painter's mysterious death. It's a treat to watch his paintings come to life, and the score by Clint Mansell just might have you in tears.
'The Princess and the Frog' (2009)
This charming tale, set in 1912 New Orleans, is worth catching up with. "Dreamgirls" star Anika Noni Rose voices Tiana, who dreams of someday owning her own restaurant. Keith David is terrific as voodoo villain Doctor Facilier, who's responsible for (plot twist!) turning her into a frog.
'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1996)
'A Scanner Darkly' (2006)
Some of our favorite actors -- Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson -- star in this trippy rotoscoped film based on the Philip K. Dick novel and directed by Richard Linklater. Funny and hallucinatory.
It's up to a misfit boy named Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who can talk to the dead, to save his town from an ancient curse in this funny, Oscar-nominated treat full of stop-motion zombies.
'My Life as a Zucchini' (2016)
This sweetly heartbreaking stop-motion French film, about an orphaned boy who likes to be called "Courgette" (French for "zucchini"), was nominated for an Oscar, but lost to "Zootopia." The American voice cast includes Will Forte, Nick Offerman, Ellen Page, and Amy Sedaris.
'An American Tail' (1986)
Yes, this Spielberg-produced tale of an immigrant mouse is a lot more downbeat than most animated movies, but it's also a real heartwarmer. James Horner's song, "Somewhere Out There," was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe; it won two Grammys.
'Arthur Christmas' (2011)
Clumsy Arthur Claus (James McAvoy) discovers his father has accidentally left one gift undelivered on Christmas Eve and sets out to make things right. His crazy trip across Earth, in Santa's sleigh, is aided by the elderly Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), an overeager elf and some untrained reindeer. What could go wrong? Everything in this funny, charming holiday film.
'The Great Mouse Detective' (1986)
The winning Disney team responsible for "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin" gave us this charming Sherlock-inspired story. Here, a heroic mouse detective must stop the evil Professor Ratigan (smoothly voiced by horror icon Vincent Price).
'The Brave Little Toaster' (1987)
Just like a certain set of toys, a brave little toaster -- and his fellow appliances -- came to life when the humans leave in this '80s favorite. Among the talented voice cast: Jon Lovitz as the radio, Phil Hartman as an air conditioner, and Disney legend Thurl Ravenscroft as Kirby the vacuum cleaner.