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Underrated Movies on Disney+ you HAVE to Watch

At the beginning of quarantine, like everyone else, I was busy finishing up the Spring 2020 semester, but after the semester ended, I found myself with a lot of free time during the day. This is when I began to do a deep dive on Disney+, and here’s a list of some of the movies that I kept coming back to during this unintentionally extended summer:

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Imagine Sherlock Holmes but make it mice, that is essentially what’s done in the 1986 film The Great Mouse Detective based on the novel Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone. This movie follows young Olivia Flaversham in her quest to find her father with the help of the famed Great Mouse Detective Basil of Baker Street. The film takes you on a high-speed adventure through the London underground, from the perspective of a mouse, while following the trail of a mysterious kidnapping.

The animation in this film is amazing considering the era it was created. It features the incredible voice talents of Barrie Ingham as Basil and Vincent Price as our primary antagonist, the evil Professor Ratigan. It also has an iconic villain song, “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind'', that I think is one of the most entertaining scenes in the film purely based on the extravagance of the animation. 

A Goofy Movie (1995)

Goofy is an often overlooked Disney character, but in this movie, you get to see him in his own feature film as a single dad to Max Goof, his 14-year-old son. On Max’s last day of school before summer vacations, he and his two best friends hijack the auditorium during their principal’s speech, creating a small concert where Max performs dressed as the movie's famous singer, Powerline, performing one of his songs for his classmates. This performance turns Max into a celebrity at school, impressing his crush Roxanne. The incident results in the three boys being sent to the principal’s office and the principal calls Goofy, warning him that Max’s behavior could result in him facing capital punishment in the future.

In an effort to save Max from this pending fate, he decides to spend some quality time with his son by taking him on a cross country road trip. The two start with a rather tense relationship and for the duration of the film, we see Goofy attempt to bond with his son in various fashions, while Max just wishes to be at home with his friends instead of being stuck with his dad for hours on end (normal teenager things). Throughout the film’s journey, we get some killer songs on this soundtrack, including my personal favorites “I2I” and “Stand Out” performed by Tevin Campbell, which are unexpected essentials for any party playlist. 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Following the story of Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame, and his struggle to gain acceptance by society. This is a retelling of the 1831 novel by Victor Hugo that features beautiful songs by Alan Menken, such as “Out There” and “God Help the Outcasts”. This movie portrays the true identity of someone who is viewed by society as a “monster” displaying that true beauty and kindness is found within, similar to that of Beauty and the Beast (there’s also a hidden Easter egg).

The story follows an amazing narrative, even tackling more mature themes such as sin, lust, and genocide. What really makes this film is the impeccable performance of Tony Jay as Judge Claude Frollo, the truly ruthless Minister of Justice of Paris who is Quasimodo’s reluctant guardian and the story’s primary antagonist. For my Broadway and musical theater fans, a musical version of this story premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2014 starring Michael Arden, Ciara Renée, and Patrick Page in the titular roles of Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Claude Frollo. It features an extended list of songs including my personal favorite, “Someday”, that is definitely worth a listen. 

Treasure Planet (2002)

In this science fiction retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, we follow a young Jim Hawkins on his quest from his home planet Montressor to find the legendary “loot of a thousand worlds” of Treasure Planet. Along the journey, we meet characters such as Dr. Doppler, Captain Amelia, and John Silver, the cyborg cook upon the RLS Legacy ship. Jim comes into his own throughout the course of the film, making this a brilliant and unique take on a coming-of-age story by Disney.

This film is one of the most visually stunning animated films I’d ever seen for this era because it seamlessly combines 2D hand-drawn animation on top of 3D computer animations, making it one of the most expensive traditionally animated films ever made. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Emma Thompson, and Martin Short lend their voice talents to truly bring these characters to life beyond the screen. The style of this film is darker than that of most Disney films, taking on more of a “steampunk” aesthetic to fit the futuristic technological advances that the movie portrays. It also features the song “I’m Still Here” by John Rzeznik, which acts as Jim’s theme and is a wonderful piece of music that everyone should listen to. 

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Based loosely on the novel A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce, this movie follows Lewis, an aspiring 12-year old inventor who grew up in an orphanage, whose inventions keep scaring off potential parents. While taking one of his inventions to his school’s science fair, he meets 13-year-old Wilbur Robinson, a mysterious boy claiming to be a “time cop” from the future who needs Lewis’s help to recover a stolen time machine. Chaos ensues as Wilbur and Lewis set off on a time-traveling adventure in the year 2037 to find the family he never knew. The plot could have been made into a very tragic orphan story but instead, it is an inspirational tale about not dwelling on your failures and “keep moving forward”. This movie has a very unique plot with twists that keep you on your toes with charming and memorable characters that makes me cherish this movie more every time I watch it. It creates a one of a kind experience as you follow the surprising emotionally driven story of Lewis and his journey to the year 2037 (just gonna tell you I did in fact tear up at the end). It features a lot of jokes that I never caught as a child, but through re-watching the film I was thoroughly entertained by the lengths that John Lasseter went to make sure this was a film for the entire family.

Howdy! My name is Julia Brown and I’m a junior studying Elementary Education with minors in Music and Sociology. In my free time, I like to listen to music, drink lots of coffee, and spot dogs on the street. I enjoy writing advice articles, music and movie reviews, and overall ways to make the most of your time on campus!
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