Yahoo! came up with a list of the top animated movies -- of all time! -- a couple of weeks ago, and I remember thumbing through the list for about fifteen minutes before I shoved it to the back of my mind. Media lists are a necessary evil; you'll never find one that you will fully agree with, and that goes double if a publication with neither apologies nor disclaimers gets involved. It was just a list, though, and it at least made for some passing interest that afternoon.
Earlier this evening, Yahoo! decided to perform a bit of a revamp. Having taken the argument to the Internet voting public, they've since put up a revised list that reflects the opinions of all the users who log onto their fair site. Apparently 1.2 million different user ratings went into the new list, which doesn't necessarily mean diddly-squat, because we don't know who these people are, and why they write reviews for animated movies in their spare time. But hey, it's a different list. And it got the usual boos and catcalls from me.
You see, the original list went like this:
29. The Jungle Book
28. Sleeping Beauty
27. Over the Hedge
26. The Simpsons Movie
25: Ice Age: The Meltdown
24. Ice Age
23. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
22. Howl's Moving Castle
20. Peter Pan
19. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who
18. Lady and the Tramp
17. Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
16. Princess Mononoke
14. The Little Mermaid
12. Shrek 2
10. Monsters, Inc.
9. Spirited Away
7. Beauty and the Beast
6. Toy Story
3. The Incredibles
2. The Lion King
1. Finding Nemo
As it was just a list by itself, and an idle-looking list at that, I wasn't about to consider my personal choices just yet. But with the release of the newer list, I feel a little more compelled to speak about my opinions. Some movies went up in ranking, some movies slipped in the stands, and of course, a couple of new releases have come out since the original. But from the way it looks, there's still quite a few things to argue about...
30. Peter Pan
Peter Pan dropped ten places in the standings, and I'm far more willing to accept it at number 30 than I am at number 20. While it's quite watchable, it's simply been outdone by a lot of other animated features since its original release.
The first movie on this list that I haven't seen. From what I've found, though, this is a contemporary coming-of-age movie that seemed to have drawn critical praise. I'll have to see if I can find a copy.
28. Meet the Robinsons
Nope, sorry, nuh-uh. I felt that this could barely hold my attention for fifteen minutes, let alone two hours. It presents a lot of weird characters in weird situations, but I don't feel that that alone should warrant it a place on this list.
This is a surprise; I wanted to see this higher on the list. I liked this movie... but that could just be me, speaking from my racial background. The fact that its theme involves heroism in the fact of unacceptance probably gives it a slight push in my book.
26. Lady and the Tramp
Worthwhile, I suppose. Lady and the Tramp probably deserves to be on a Top 30 list, although I wouldn't necessarily put it in the top half.
25. My Neighbor Totoro
I haven't seen this one either, but I hear that Miyazaki makes quite a showing on this list.
24. Over the Hedge
Ugh. This is... how shall I put it... *fluff* that was specifically aimed towards a young audience. While there are some fluffy movies that are done well, I don't think this one really serves as the best example. Why is this still on the list?
Quite old, but not bad. This was one of the better golden-era Disney movies, and I was impressed at the little twist at the end. (Now if we can only get Disney to stop the constant train of sequels, then that would be just peachy.)
22. Happy Feet
I'm a sucker for musicals. The only thing I didn't like about this movie was the fact that the story felt like two completely different ideas that just got patched together, but that was about it. I feel great seeing it on this list when it was previously ignored.
21. Monsters, Inc.
The strength of Monsters, Inc. lies in two things: its story (which focuses on the alternate themes of fear and love), and its unlikely setting (which piqued my curiosity). Frankly, I'm surprised that it lands in the bottom third of the list.
20. The Little Mermaid
I would place The Little Mermaid around this area, yes. It's a good movie, and it ushered in the last great age of Disney animation, but it feels a little formulaic when compared against its contemporaries.
19. Ice Age: The Meltdown
The Ice Age movies didn't do it for me. They were entertaining to watch, yes, but I hardly felt like seeing them again after the first screening. I suppose the list does reflect the fact that the second movie was better than the first...
18. Princess Mononoke
Haven't seen this one, either.
17. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who
After slogging through the train wrecks that were How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat, I swore off Hollywood interpretations of the late great Theodore Geisel's works. So no, I haven't seen this, and I'm not quite sold on putting it on my to-watch list.
16. The Simpsons Movie
I do love the Simpsons, but I don't think their movie -- a mishmash of strange plotlines, clever jokes and the Spider-Pig song -- should be on this list. Comedy isn't solely measured by the number of laughs that you get.
15. Howl's Moving Castle
I read the book and liked it, but I haven't seen the movie yet. Sadly, everyone I know who's seen the movie seems to prefer the book...
14. Toy Story
Indeed. This is a thinly-veiled treatise on what it's like to be old, I think, with some lessons on friendship on the side. I feel that it also presents its imaginary universe very well, something that its sequels couldn't quite capture.
Aladdin's nice and all, but I don't think that it's aged well. It's still one of the better releases of contemporary Disney, though -- I would put it slightly lower on this list, with the possibility of slipping further.
12. Beauty and the Beast
This, I feel, is the best love story that Disney ever produced. I don't think it was enough to score a Best Picture nomination, but I think it's enough to have the movie sitting this high.
11. Shrek 2
Sorry, everyone -- I felt that Shrek 2 was loads better than the original. The universe was more developed, the in-jokes were more numerous, and it had better character participation than any of the others. The fact that it falls just shy of the top ten is okay by me; what I can't accept is why its counterpart sits at number 8...
What the hell? Does ten minutes of animation automatically make this count as an animated movie? Could we throw this back into the pool of romantic comedies, please? Maybe we'll see a list for those next time.
9. Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is a personal favorite; I'd actually put it on a list of top films of all time. It's macabre yet poignant, morbid yet silly. It's takes a boatload of contrasts, somehow makes it all work, and is a musical, to boot. I respectfully disagreed with having this at number 17; Number 9, however, is perfectly fine with me.
Absolute heresy. Oh, this started the whole wagon train going well enough, but it feels a lot less substantial that the movies that have followed its steps. The comedy was fresh back during its time and the scene in the dragon's lair is one of the better ones in all animation, but the bare-bones plot is so simple that I can't see this in the top ten. I would rather see Shrek 2 here. Really, I would.
I'm sorry, everyone, but this just felt so... ... ... American to me. Maybe it imparts some important lessons in the faster-paced American context, but I simply found it difficult to empathize with this movie. I wouldn't even place this in my top thirty.
I'll be seeing this movie later this year. By then, I'll have an opinion on it.
5. The Lion King
When I first saw this movie, I expected something along the caliber of its immediate predecessors -- The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. I was, however, disappointed by the story, which is still a little formulaic in my book. The presence of nagging accusations that the characters and settings were a rip-off of one of Hayao Miyazaki's works doesn't help its case much. I would see this somewhere above the 20s, but definitely not this high.
4. Spirited Away
Geez... I've got to put together a Miyazaki marathon sometime.
3. The Incredibles
This is a great movie, and I would have preferred it to be longer. Seriously -- I wanted to see more focus on some of the characters; they didn't leave me with an impression of being well-developed. I keep thinking that there's a sequel in the works for this one, though, and I'll watch out for it. Definitely top ten material, but I'm not sure where it would go.
2. Kung Fu Panda
While I did like the movie, isn't it a little too early to put this in second place? I'd start this off around 15th or 16th.
1. Finding Nemo
I have to admit that this was a nice choice. It actually has a very simple plot, but it's not so formulaic that I can dismiss it offhand. What impresses me here is that it not only captures a parent-child relationship very well, but it somehow maintains this when so much else is happening on the screen. I don't know if I would put this at number one myself, but I think that it's a believable choice. I think that it would at least be top ten in any case.
What's my pick for the criminally-overlooked entry that should be on this list, you ask? That's easy -- The Iron Giant. Why this film constantly gets passed over is a complete mystery to me -- it's a remarkable story of friendship, personal choice and self-sacrifice; all set against the backdrop of a paranoid political era. If you ever manage to score a copy, I dare you to keep it together during the climactic ending.
And if Enchanted somehow managed to brown-nose its way onto the list... where's Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The movie was wacky, groundbreaking, superbly entertaining, and it had far more animation than what Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey provided us.
Of course, this may not reflect what you think. Maybe you've seen some of the movies that I've skipped. Maybe you completely disagree with what I just said about The Lion King. Maybe you just don't like my tone of voice and are itching to sound off. Whatever the case, feel free to drop a comment and discuss your picks. We can have a nice little talk, I suppose, and maybe break out into a completely scripted song-and-dance sequence afterwards.