Walt Disney Animation Studios has been around for 100 years now, and their movies have become a staple in many households. From Disney classics like “The Lion King” to new favorites like “Encanto,” viewers have watched and fallen in love with their films time and time again. However, with the significant number of Disney movies, some have fallen out of the limelight. Here is a list of what I consider to be the five most underrated Disney movies of all time:
1. “Meet the Robinsons” (2007)
The first movie to come to mind as an underrated film would have to be “Meet the Robinsons” because it doesn’t get enough credit for its unique storyline.
Now, this is partly because, by the time the movie was released in theaters, Walt Disney Animation Studios were underperforming compared to other studios like DreamWorks Animation and Pixar Animation Studios. The film was also up against features like “Shrek the Third,” “Cars” and “Ratatouille” which made it challenging to succeed at the box office. But don’t let the box office numbers fool you because “Meet the Robinsons” tells a story that is light-hearted yet both moving and heart-wrenching at the same time.
The film follows an orphan named Lewis (Jordan Fry) who dreams of one day finding a family. But that dream takes an unexpected pause when a stranger named Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman) needs his help and takes him away to an unimaginable place: the future. During Lewis’ time in the future, he spends the day exploring Wilbur’s house and meeting his unique family.
The creator of “Meet the Robinsons,” Stephen J. Anderson, told a touching story that captures the essence of life where sometimes people fail, but failure is a part of success, and we should continue to “keep moving forward.”
2. “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001)
“Atlantis: The Lost Empire” is without a doubt at the top of the list of most underrated movies.
The film is about an inexperienced adventurer named Milo (Michael J. Fox) who discovers where Atlantis is located. Upon his discovery, he joins a group of explorers to find the legendary lost empire of Atlantis.
The film is not the typical Disney movie of Disney princesses or talking animals, but that’s what makes it interesting to watch. It’s an action-packed adventure that perfectly illustrates the world of Atlantis in an animated world.
3. “Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)
“Emperor’s New Groove” is slowly becoming more popular amongst Disney fans now, but it was not always like that.
When the movie was first released, it was up against some major movies like “102 Dalmatians” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which resulted in the movie underperforming at the box office. However, the film itself is one of the best 2D animated Disney films yet.
The feature is about an arrogant young emperor named Kuzco (David Spade) who is transformed into a llama by his former adviser Yzma (Eartha Kitt) after he fires her. Kuzco then gets accidentally placed in a cart owned by a villager named Pacha (John Goodman) and they end up teaming up to return Kuzco to the throne.
From the unlikeable main character to the unexpected duo that did not see eye to eye, “Emperor’s New Groove” was something Disney fans had not yet seen before. But that’s exactly what makes this film stand out. It was different. For instance, the main character Kuzco narrates the story himself and even interrupts the movie to input his commentary which, for a Disney movie, is unheard of. But those moments make “Emperor’s New Groove” one of the best.
4. “Tinkerbell” (2008)
Some might be surprised that “Tinkerbell” is on the list considering that Tinkerbell herself is well known among Disney fans. But when thinking about Disney movies, few people mention the film series “Tinkerbell.”
The partial reason for the saga’s oversight was because of the setback of the film not being released in theaters. It instead went straight to DVD because the movie script had to be redone, causing massive delays in production. This resulted in fewer people watching the film compared to other Disney movies, which caused it to underperform. But even though there were production issues, the film turned out to be everything a child would imagine Pixie Hollow would be.
The film follows newly born Tinkerbell (Mae Whitman) choosing her talent as a tinker fairy where her job is to create new things and fix broken ones. Once she becomes settled in her career, she meets new friends of other talents such as Silvermist (Lucy Liu), Iridessa (Raven Symoné), Rosetta (Kristin Chenoweth) and Fawn (America Ferrera), and discovers that there is a world outside of Pixie Hollow. However, Tinkerbell learns she cannot travel outside of Pixie Hollow because she is a tinker fairy. This leads Tinkerbell to question who she is and what she wants to do.
The creators of “Tinkerbell” perfectly illustrated the world of Pixie Hollow through various fairies and their special talents. The resulting scenery beautifully captured the essence of what it is like living in Pixie Hollow.
5. “A Bug’s Life” (1998)
Now some might wonder why “A Bug’s Life” is on the list considering the film is a Pixar movie. But, it’s worth mentioning because it’s the least talked about movie to come out of Pixar and technically Pixar is a part of Disney.
The film follows a creative ant named Flik (Dave Foley) who seeks “warriors” to save his colony after accidentally ruining the food supply for a greedy grasshopper. On his journey, he discovers a group of bugs that he thinks will be perfect to help save the colony. However, it turns out that the recruits are circus insects.
“A Bug’s Life” did an excellent job creating a story with unusual creatures, like insects, that inspire viewers to stand up for what they believe in.
All films above are available to watch on Disney+.