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Disney Appreciation Fest: My Top 5 Disney Films, Part II: Non-Princess

My Top 5 Non-Princess Disney Films
NOTE:
THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION AND YOU ARE WELCOME TO DISAGREE AS NECESSARY. ALSO, I AM AWARE THAT KIDA IS TECHNICALLY A PRINCESS BUT SHE IS NOT INCLUDED IN DISNEY PRINCESS MERCHANDISE SO SHE WILL APPEAR IN THIS ENTRY AS OPPOSED TO THAT ONE.

Lilo family
Honorable Mention: Lilo and Stitch
- Thanks to unnecessary_ for getting me back into this film.
- Stitch is so cute! AND FLUFFY! And I can totally relate to both him and Lilo in the weirdo-trying-to-find-your-place-in-the-world thing. I think that's one of the reasons this film is so popular, that it's got such relatable concepts and themes.
- Nani and Lilo’s relationship is wonderful to watch as it grows throughout the film.
- HAWAIIAN ROLLER COASTER RIDE~
- This movie isn’t as high as the others on this list because I just haven’t watched it enough times, but I am developing a fondness for it.

i'll turn him into a flea
5. The Emperor’s New Groove
REASONS I LIKE THIS MOVIE:
- It’s definitely one of the funniest Disney movies from the 1990s on. David Spade’s deadpan and sarcasm plays well to my sense of humor.
- KRONK AND YZMA BUT MOSTLY KRONK. Easily the funniest villain-sidekick pair ever. Patrick Warburton is one of my favorite voice actors and he gives Kronk the most wonderful big lug voice ever. His stupidity and attention to seemingly inane things (do not insult Kronk’s spinach puffs or you will suffer) is endearing. Also his shoulder angel and devil are hilarious (“Reason Number Two: look what I can do!”) Eartha Kitt’s performance as Yzma was also well done. Combined, these two have some of the best and most memorable lines in the film. Cases in point: this video.
- This movie may have started my love for llamas. Although now I realize that I like alpacas better, they’re nicer.
PROBLEMS I HAVE WITH THIS MOVIE:
- A Disney version of a buddy movie was not exactly what I wanted. Most of the Disney movies I like have at least some level of romance, which was noticeably lacking here (ignoring the established couple of Chicha and Pacha, due to that not being a major element of the film).
- With the exception of the music in the race to the palace sequence, the score is largely forgettable. However, the song “Yzmopolis” from the animated sequel series The Emperor’s New School is quite cute.

kida
4. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
REASONS I LIKE THIS MOVIE:
- I’ll be honest, I really liked this movie the very first time I saw it, and then I kind of was like “meh” for most of my preteen and early teen years. But then I heard the music in the crystal chamber scene again, and I was struck by its beauty. Then I decided to give the movie another chance, and it became one of my favorites.
- The score is quite wonderful. Of particular loveliness is all of the stuff from the secret swim scene to the end. The crystal chamber scene is the absolute best.
- Speaking of the crystal chamber, that scene is the most beautiful of the entire movie. See this entry for further notes.
- Protagonists Milo and Kida make a wonderful couple, but I love that the movie is not all about their love story. Milo is the most adorkable Disney male protagonist ever and I love him. Kida is probably the most badass princess in Disney history.
- The secondary characters is one of the most hilarious groups from a Disney movie ever. They’re all so quirky. Vinny is probably my favorite, although Mrs. Packard’s dry comments always get me. “We’re all gonna die.” Helga Sinclair makes for a sexy scary Dragon to Rourke and a slightly more interesting character than him.
- HOLY CRAP THE LEVIATHAN SEQUENCE WAS SCARY. GOOD BUT SCARY.
- I love that Disney decided not to go straight to fairy tales for all of their movies. Legends and speculation make for cool things too. And it’s a different version of things seen UNDER THE SEAAAAAAAA than in The Little Mermaid.
PROBLEMS I HAVE WITH THIS MOVIE:
- Sometimes the animation is a bit less-than-satisfactory. Not as bad or cheap-looking as some of what’s seen in the movies from the 1960s and 1970s (The Jungle Book, Robin Hood, and The Aristocats come to mind), but sometimes it’s not very pretty. However, the crystal chamber scene and the part when Kida raises the statues redeem everything.
- As villains go, Commander Rourke is not very interesting to me. He’s kind of a boring asshole and I get that vibe from the very beginning. Even Clayton and Percival C. McLeach are more interesting villains (partially because Clayton’s voiced by BRIAN BLESSED and his attempts to get Tarzan to work with him are hilarious; “GO-RILLLL-AAAAAAAAAHS!”; also, George C. Scott hams it up quite well as McLeach and he has my favorite animal sidekick, Joanna the goanna) than Rourke.

three caballeros
3. The Three Caballeros
REASONS I LIKE THIS MOVIE:
- NOSTALGIA GOGGLES ON: I watched this movie more times than I can remember when I was a child. My best friend and almost-sister had it at her house, and I remember watching it frequently when my sister and I went over there to play. The bright colors and songs appealed to me even then. When I started watching it again in high school on my own time, I loved it all over again.
- Call me a furry all you like, but there is something just so incredibly sexy about José Carioca to me. Maybe it’s the accent, maybe it’s the ever-present cigar that blows such pretty smoke around him, maybe it’s his bromance with Panchito and Donald, but there’s something there that I adore about that green parrot and I can’t get over it. Also the fact that he can make his umbrella be instruments is pretty awesome. See “Aquarela do Brasil” from Saludos Amigos and “Blame it on the Samba” from Melody Time for further adoration of José.
- OMIGOD THE MUSIC. The songs are all so wonderful – I love South/Central American voices like the ones heard here. I could dance to any of them easily and be happy. I have several of them stored on Spotify (in various versions, as the soundtrack for this movie either doesn’t exist or is impossible to find) and they just make me so happy all the time. I can’t pick a favorite, they’re all too glorious and catchy. Seriously, watch this movie and try not to have a song stuck in your head afterwards.
- The very first Disney Acid Sequence occurred in this film (the sequence after “You Belong to My Heart”), and it’s one of the best.
- The bright colors of this film are so pretty and appealing to the eye, both to the child Emma and the current me.
- The bromance between the Three Caballeros is just so lovely – “no matter where he goes, the one, two and three goes, we’re always together.” Even when it’s just Donald and José for the first section (as well as in “Aquarela do Brasil” and “Blame it on the Samba”), I love it also notice how whenever Donald and José dance together, Donald tends to dance the woman’s part, just thought I’d throw that out there. As a shipper, I can see their bond as friendship or romance, depending on the scenario (there’s a wonderful romance fic on FF.net entitled Loves and Passions of the Three Caballeros, check it out if you’re interested).
- I really really REALLY wish they would make a new Three Caballeros movie so today’s audiences can see it and enjoy it.
PROBLEMS I HAVE WITH THIS MOVIE:
- The only major problem I have with this movie is the segmented stories, particularly the one about the Flying Donkey. The one about Pablo the penguin is okay because it’s narrated by Sterling Holloway (who voiced so many Disney characters in his lifetime: the Cheshire Cat, Kaa, Winnie the Pooh, etc.). But the flying donkey one, especially in recent views, was just so boring compared to the rest of the movie.
- Sometimes, I’m bothered by how much of a skirt-chaser Donald is in this movie (José and Panchito are a little bit, but not as much as the duck). Women are not objects, and the current incarnation of Donald is happily in a relationship with Daisy Duck. But then I remember that Daisy was not a particularly prominent character in the 1940s, when this film was made, and the objectification of women here was more common in that time. Most of the women are the Hispanic equivalent of pin-up girls, especially in the Acapulco Beach scene, so that makes it somewhat acceptable.

ratigan
2. The Great Mouse Detective
REASONS I LIKE THIS MOVIE:
- IT’S SHERLOCK HOLMES BUT WITH MICE AND RATS YAY! Seriously, I see a lot of parallels to the BBC Sherlock series here, especially in how crazy/flamboyant Professor Ratigan and Andrew Scott’s Moriarty are, and Benedict’s Sherlock reminds me a fair bit of Basil. Also, THE FALLING OFF OF BIG BEN IS VAGUELY REMINISCIENT OF THE REICHENBACH FALL BUT THANKFULLY IT DOES NOT INDUCE HALF OF THE FEELS THAT THE REICHENBACH FALL DOES.
- This is a Disney buddy movie done right because it is based on the legitimate literary bromance of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
- Professor Ratigan is seriously one of the most underappreciated Disney villains, if not the most underappreciated. He’s flamboyant, he’s crazy, he has a giant Berserk Button (“I AM NOT A RAT!”), he has one of my favorite villain songs ever (that may have to be a list soon), and he’s voiced by Vincent Price. Reportedly, this was one of Vincent Price’s favorite roles, and I can clearly hear that just from the range of dynamics and voices he uses when playing this character. His voice was also one of the more tolerable things about the non-Disney knock-off animated film The Thief and the Cobbler. Back to Ratigan, though: he’s just such a Smug Snake all the time (except when his Berserk Button’s been pushed, then you’d best BEWARE) that he’s one of those villains that I love to hate and hate to love. I wish he got more love.
- The main musical theme is just so rousing and empowering that I can’t help but get energized. It’s a good one to have as an alarm or if you’re in need of energy music for an exam or something of the like. The horns are especially glorious and like “YOU CAN DO IT YOU CAN BEAT THIS THING GO GO GO!”
- I just want to cuddle all of the mice. Especially Dawson, who is voiced by the same guy who went on to voice the Sultan in Aladdin so he’s extra cute and cuddly. Squee. And Olivia Flaversham’s wee little accent is adorable, so she also gets extra cuddles. Ratigan would be nice for cuddling when he’s not in berserker mode.
- Fidget, the bat, was always terrifying to me, especially as a child. I remember hiding behind my hands during the first five minutes when he shows up and kidnaps Mr. Flaversham and just shoves his head through the window like “O HAI I’MMA EAT YOU!” Even now, that shot makes me jump (so does the basilisk rising out of the water in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but I blame that partially on my fear of snakes and other reptiles). But Fidget was also funny, so it’s a good blend of scary and funny. I feel the same about Joanna in The Rescuers Down Under, but she’s slightly funnier than Fidget.
- Although I admit I haven’t seen very many Sherlock Holmes films, this is one of my favorites. The relations between Basil and Dawson are spot-on, and you definitely get the bromance, despite it being a Disney movie and them being mice. Basil, in particular, is one of the most interesting Disney protagonists because he’s so smart, so clever, so talented at what he does (I love his melodrama when he messes up with the bullets and decides to play his violin) and he wins his confrontation without much violence on his part. Yay non-violence!
PROBLEMS I HAVE WITH THIS MOVIE:
- The only thing I’m not hugely fond of is the song in the bar, “Let Me Be Good to You.” While it fits the time period and the location, it just felt a little out of place to have that be one of only two songs in the movie. Also, stripping mice was not something I wanted to see, both when I was too young to understand and now. It’s not my favorite song by a long shot.

esmeralda and djali
1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
REASONS THIS MOVIE IS THE BEST OF THE NON-PRINCESS SET:
- OMIGOD THE MUSIC WJOELMVGWEIOGJLGWJOILKM IT IS THAT GOOD IT DESERVES A KEYBOARD SMASH. Best use of Latin chorus in a movie (seriously, that first “KYRIE ELEISON” during “The Bells of Notre Dame” gives me chills every time, as does the “Dies Irae” sequence following it). Stephen Schwartz writes brilliant lyrics, and Alan Menken gives his best score from this era. Seriously, I consider this the best score/soundtrack of the Disney Renaissance (with Beauty and the Beast coming in a close second). Every song in this movie is a joy to listen to, whether it’s the sad beauty of “God Help the Outcasts” or the epic villain song that is “Hellfire.” BEEEEEEEEELLS OOOOOF NOTREEEEEE DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME!
- The animation is gorgeous. Look at those stained glass windows! Look at those gargoyles and statues! Disney really did their homework when they set out to animate Notre Dame, as well as the rest of Paris.
- Awww, Tom Hulce as Quasimodo. This was actually the first role I knew Tom Hulce from, and then I watched him in Amadeus in 7th grade music appreciation class and I was like “WAIT I KNOW THAT VOICE THAT IS QUASIMODO” and then I realized the amazing powers of this man. His voice is just perfect, capturing the innocence of a boy raised in a tower for twenty years with no knowledge of the world’s cruelty but then OH SHIT YOU FUCKED WITH THE WOMAN HE LOVES YOU’RE GONNA GET SMACKED. Also, I like that almost everyone in this movie (noted exceptions: Demi Moore did not do her own singing, and I don’t think Kevin Kline had any songs to sing) did their own singing for this film, and Hulce’s voice was quite lovely to hear on “Out There” and “Heaven’s Light.” Especially in the case of the latter song’s brief reprise, I just want to give him a big hug. Awwww.
- TONY JAY AS CLAUDE FROLLO. This guy is great at voicing villains, and this is his best in my opinion (although what I’ve heard of him as Megabyte in Reboot is pretty good too). Frollo is such a creep, but he’s the best at being a creep and really bad guy of the 1990s villains. Abuse of power, sexual harassment, manipulation of a ward, attempted manslaughter, attempted burning at the stake, defiling a church: Frollo does a lot of really bad stuff that he probably shouldn’t have done as an authority figure. And that is why he’s such a badass and effective villain. Again, love to hate and hate to love.
- The gargoyles are wonderful and funny! I love Jason Alexander as Hugo, and Victor and Laverne are also great. My favorite thing is Laverne’s homage to the Wicked Witch of the West with her many pigeons. FLY, MY PRETTIES, FLY!
- Kevin Kline as Phoebus is pretty good. Not as hammy as in The Pirates of Penzance, The Road to El Dorado, or A Fish Called Wanda, but he’s a likeable hero and a good friend to Quasimodo. Also, bonus points for having a Horse With Attitude. “Naughty horse, naughty!”
- Esmeralda is gorgeous and Demi Moore voices her well. Her goat, Djali, is also quite hilarious. My favorite moment is when they get off the tower roof and Djali just moans when they’re done. Bahaha.
- While this movie does have some literary accuracy problems (several major characters from the book are missing, and others are completely changed in personality and characterization, but it’s a Disney movie and certain changes had to be made), it’s one of my absolute favorites and I would watch it any time given the chance.

Comments

This makes me want to go watch all the Disney movies again!
DO IT DO IT DO IT Disney movie marathons are always a good thing!
You are welcome!

I adore David Spade. You know there's like ZERO mention of him anywhere on the DVD with special features? I thought that Disney would at least make a featurette for him to talk about the experience but it's like they try to pretend that he was never in it. I actually have a theory that they hid him from the kids because he's been in many films that have sexual and drug references in them, etc.

Protagonists Milo and Kida make a wonderful couple, but I love that the movie is not all about their love story.

Great point!

Commander Rourke and the elephants in Dumbo are my least favorite villains/antagonists. I just always feel so betrayed by Rourke, like, why man? Why did you have to turn out that way? :\ Forever upset.

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am not to be the only The Three Caballeros fan in this world.

THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS HUNCHBACK. As you know it's my third favorite. I remember when I watched Amadeus for the first time I was like WAIT OMG WAIT THAT'S ... THAT'S QUASIMODO!!!!!! I'm so happy that Kevin Kline was involved in this film. Road to El Dorado is my #1 favorite non-Disney movie.

<3
You know, that David Spade theory makes total sense. I'm amazed that he's not on any DVD commentary or anything, considering he's the title character of the film.

Buhhhh, I loathe the elephants in Dumbo, such rude beasties. And Rourke was just such a disappointment! Another villain who's only in it for the money! Whyyyyyyy? >:(

Can we just organize a Three Caballeros fanclub and squeal over it all the time? That would be the best thing ever. :3

THAT WAS BASICALLY MY REACTION TO MY FIRST TIME WATCHING AMADEUS. Tom Hulce is just wonderful. Also, after I finish my Disney appreciation fest, I may have to do an entry on favorite non-Disney animated films. RtED is definitely going to be in there.