There were a lot of these I was looking forward to sharing with my daughter and others that didn't remember as fondly. This is definitely the era where Disney musical movies started to feel more Broadway. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Mulan all have such memorable songs and that comfortable rhythm of meeting a character who wants "something more" or "something different" than what they have and watching them reach out for it.
- Belle wants much more than this provincial life
- Aladdin wants to stay one jump ahead
- Jack wants a cure for ennui in the form of a new challenge
- Simba wants to be king (or at least he thinks he does)
- Pocahontas wants to know what's around the river bend
- Quasimodo wants to go out there
- Hercules wants to prove he can go the distance
- Mulan wants to like who she sees in the mirror
You'd think we'd weary of the formula, but you know what? We don't. It pulls on our heartstrings every single time. No surprise then that the other thing we loved during this same time span was Hamilton. So glad to have finally seen that show!
Tarzan stood out among the musicals as the only one when the music was separate from the characters--as in, there was a lot of music, but with the exception of the lullaby, the characters didn't sing it. Instead the songs felt like voiceovers in a way--letting us in on what the characters were thinking and feeling. It worked, too. "You'll Be My Heart" is still an insidious little earworm.
Our least favorite movies in this least were the ones that didn't really feel like movies, but more like extended versions of television cartoons. We *love* Duck Tales the cartoon series, but the movie was a bit blah. A Goofy Movie tried too hard…which I guess is true to character for Goofy, at least. And Doug's 1st Movie we had to bribe ourselves to finish.
My daughter surprised me by being down on the Toy Story movies. She really didn't like the animation style, and I do still get the wiggins a little myself with the uncanny valley issues in that series, so I see what she means. Still, I like the friendships among the toy characters. Maybe some of the joy of it is lost on her because the voice actors are not familiar and beloved by her like they are by me.
James and the Giant Peach proved again that Roald Dahl is so very weird in all the best ways. We both liked it better once we moved into the animated world inside the peach. Tim Burton was probably exactly the right person to bring that one to the screen, and we enjoyed Jack's cameo as the sunken pirate.
I didn't remember A Bug's Life all that well. In fact, I had conflated it in my memory with the far less entertaining Antz. So, it was a pleasant and charming surprise in the list.
All in all, the 90s were an enjoyable era of Disney, even if the sheer number of films was a bit overwhelming and a few offerings were underwhelming. Do you have favorites from this era of Disney? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.
If you're interested in seeing what we thought of other eras of Disney, check out these related posts: