I was talking to my friend recently about Disney princesses and other females in Disney films, when I mentioned that Pocahontas, Mulan and Esmeralda were my favourites when I was little. ‘What?!’ she exclaimed, ‘Those are the worst ones!’
This got me thinking about Disney films which I love but don’t seem to have won over as many people as the BIG Disney films. These are the films which I will watch over and over, know the songs off by heart and adore the storyline and characters, but which would be easy to forget about if you visited the Disney Store or any of the Disney parks because they don’t seem to get a look in when it comes to merchandise, characters or shows.
While it was tough to narrow them down, here are my five favourite underrated Disney films (try saying that ten times fast):
I watched Mulan over and over when I was growing up (and a few times since) and I don’t understand why this brilliant film – and brilliant female – isn’t appreciated more. While I was happy to see Mulan featured when I went to see Disney On Ice: 100 Years of Magic last year, Mulan isn’t included in any merchandise which features popular Disney females. Yes, okay, so she’s not a princess, but she only went and saved China from a Hun invasion – isn’t that enough to have her face on a notepad once in a while?! As well as having a kick-ass female lead who isn’t afraid to buck tradition and be the hero, Mulan has an exciting storyline, hilarious characters (Eddie Murphy as Mushu is genius) and, hands down, some of my favourite Disney songs. If you wake up in a slump one morning, blast some I’ll Make a Man Out of You while you get ready and I guarantee you’ll feel at least 60% more ready to seize the day.
How can you NOT love Pocahontas? The animation, the songs, her hair. This film is absolutely wonderful. I practically idolised Pocahontas when I was little: she loves animals, is death-defyingly brave and sings Colours of the Wind, which I adore, if only for the ‘Come roll in all the riches all around you, and for once never wonder what they’re worth’ line. Anti-capitalism, son. While you’ll rarely see any Pocahontas merchandise or meet her in the parks, I was delighted when I went to Walt Disney World last Halloween and Fantasmic, the nighttime show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, featured Pocahontas so heavily. I almost (ahem) cried when Colours of the Wind played.
Right, I know some people seem to hate sequels on principle, but I definitely think you should give The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride a chance. While it’s not as good as The Lion King (which, let’s face it, would be tough) Simba’s Pride features characters you already know and love (who can resist more Timon and Pumbaa banter?), great new characters (is it wrong to find a cartoon lion sexy?) and new songs you will want to sing-along with – get a taste with my personal favourites Upendi and Not One Of Us.
I read that The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was massively unpopular when it was released because parents thought it was inappropriate for children – considering it’s based on Victor Hugo’s gothic novel it’s not surprising that this film is dark, but my dad took me to see it at the cinema when I was little and I loved it. I don’t think it frightened me and I actually remember thinking it was really funny! When I watch it now I realise how grim it is – covering topics such as infanticide, genocide and ableism – but I think that’s what makes it so interesting. When it comes to Disney villains, there are none worse than Frollo: the revolting Archdeacon of Notre-Dame who tries to drown a baby, is on a one man mission to murder every gypsy in Paris and has an entire song dedicated to how much he wants to rape Esmeralda.
I love Bedknobs and Broomsticks so much that I accidentally bought myself two copies! This film is the only one on my list which combines live action with animation, making for lovely scenes such as an antique bed floating through an animated sea full of bubbles and fish wearing suits. The combination of live action and animation and the London setting means Bedknobs and Broomsticks reminds me of Mary Poppins, but, perhaps controversially, I much prefer Bedknobs and Broomsticks! I love the blend of magic (Eglantine Price, the main character, is a an apprentice witch and student at the Correspondence College of Witchcraft) and the Second World War setting – culminating in wonderfully bizarre scene of Eglantine directing an enchanted army of medieval armour against a German attack. I think a considerable amount of my love for this film also stems from my desire to visit Naboombu, a world of animated animals where no humans are allowed.
Charlene is an English, Journalism and Creative Writing graduate and a marketing officer for a not-for-profit organisation. She lives in Glasgow with her boyfriend and their pet guinea pig. She set up tartanmouth to have a space to talk about the things she loves most – expect posts on books, charity, Disney and cake