As American as Apple Pie

American Pie brought back the R rated teen sex comedy. Even though 1999 was loaded with teen movies, American Pie was a suggestive standout. American Pie is the tale of four guys on a quest to lose their virginity. Jason Biggs is awkward teen Jim. He’s friends with the slightly cooler Kevin, popular jock friend Oz, and the nerdy sophisticated Finch. I’m not sure how they’re all friends, but they are all virgins. All except their obnoxious sort of friend Stifler. Played with hard R finesse by breakout star Seann William Scott. Rather than the Don McLean song, the title refers to third base being like “warm apple pie.” Which leads to the grossist, most memorable moment. Each friend goes about losing their virginity in vastly different ways.

American Pie has four hotties. Shannon Elizabeth stands out with the movie’s one nude scene, but Tara Reid, Alyson Hannigan, and the All-American Mena Suvari stand out too. I say All-American because this is strangely one of many movies/shows she’s appeared in with “American” in the title (American Beauty for example). Eugene Levy steals every scene giving hilariously awkward sex advice to Jim. Jim almost sleeps with sexy foreign exchange student Nadia when they catch her topless on a webcam, but he settles for band geek Michelle. “This one time, at band camp…” Kevin uses a secret sex book to better please his girlfriend Vicky, but they struggle to go all the way. Oz tries to become more sensitive by joining choir and he ends up falling in love with Heather in the process. Finch gets Vicky’s hip friend Jessica to give him an irresistible reputation, until it’s all flushed away.

Despite a few hiccups everyone honors the pact. Kevin awkwardly sleeps with Vicky, Oz romanticly sleeps with Heather, Jim has a one night stand with the surprisingly experienced Michelle, and Finch gets revenge on Stifler by seducing Stifler’s mom. I’m not a huge fan of raunchy, sort of disgusting humor, but there was no way I wouldn’t see American Pie. Despite all the sex talk, there are still several good lessons to be learned. I can’t relate to all of it, but I came to the conclusion that American Pie is a 90’s teen classic.

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Nadia plays music for Jim

Followed by: American Pie 2

In Brightest Day…

Green Lantern doesn’t shine half as bright as it should have. What should have been an epic Star Wars style sci-fi blockbuster, ended up being a big green joke. Compared to the competition, the 2000’s were a rather uneventful decade for DC comics movies. The only DC universe superheroes that ever got attention were Superman and Batman. Along with a few stray graphic novel adaptations. The only other well known hero to take shape was Green Lantern. Like most DC characters up to that point, I didn’t know much about the Emerald Knight. Other than knowing he was a key member of the Justice League.

Green Lantern was first created in 1940 as the more mystical Alan Scott. Similar to what was done with the Flash, Green Lantern was reintroduced in 1959 as the more popular intergalactic space hero Hal Jordan. The more I learned, the more excited I was to go see it. The idea for a movie swirled around since the late 90’s. At one point an awful sounding Jack Black comedy was nearly made, but thankfully fans killed that idea. The 2011 movie became the first DC project that eventual Arrowverse creator Greg Berlanti had a hand in. With Bond and Zorro director Martin Campbell at the helm and rising star Ryan Reynolds as the lead, what could possibly go wrong…

1. Green Lantern

Green Lantern holds Carol Ferris

Green Lantern does everything wrong and everything right. The Green Lantern mythos is one of the most original, unique, and complex in all of DC comics. So incorporating all of it into a 2 hour movie was tricky to say the least. Although it is commendable that they stay faithful to the bizarre source material, Green Lantern still fails for a number of reasons. The opening crams in every bit of complicated exposition it can about the Green Lantern Corps. Like the comics, the Corps is an intergalactic peacekeeping police force that protects 3,600 sectors throughout the universe. They were founded by a group of big headed blue aliens with white hair and red robes known as the Guardians of the Universe. Who reside on the planet Oa. We learn all that and more before ever meeting our hero.

Hal Jordan is the second Green Lantern, but the first to join the Green Lantern Corps. Hal is a cocky fearless test pilot that was always the most popular character to take on the mantle. Even though other members like Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner were notable as well. Hal Jordan/Green Lantern is Ryan Reynolds third comic book superhero in a row. Reynolds did his best, but Hal being a comedic playboy doesn’t line up well with the character. The movie also spends way too much time on Hal’s life on Earth. We see how he tragically lost his pilot father as a child, we see him visit his older brother and nephew, we see him fly planes in an extended sequence, and so much more.

Supporting characters on Earth include his engineer friend Thomas Kalmaku (I’ll bet you forgot Taika Waititi was in this) and true love Carol Ferris. Carol is a high ranking member of Ferris Aircraft who later became the far more interesting Star Sapphire in the comics. At least one positive to come out of Green Lantern was that Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds fell in love during filming. Things finally get going when purple alien Abin Sur (played by Temuera Morrison) is attacked by the primary antagonist. An evil parasitic life form called Parallax. In the comics, Parallax is a creature composed of yellow fear energy. In the movies, Parallax is a brown space fart with hints of yellow.

In a manner very accurate to the comics, Hal Jordan discovers the dying alien and is given the power ring. Which requires a green lantern to charge. Another huge reason Green Lantern failed was the over abundance of CGI. Specifically the poorly rendered Green Lantern costume. While a CGI costume wasn’t a horrible idea, it should have looked way better than this. Unlike the way the comic balances green with black & white, the movie suit is just green on green. With a mask that doesn’t translate well to live-action. The power ring uses willpower to construct whatever the user imagines. It’s an awesome superpower that looks more bland than creative. Hal’s constructs consist of a green fist, race track, swords, guns, and planes.

Then there’s the Green Lantern Corps. Every single alien member has a name and background in the comics, but in the movie they’re just glorified CGI extras. The only exceptions are instructor Tomar-Re and combat trainer Kilowog. Voiced by Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan in his final role before passing away. But the only actor that’s trying is Mark Strong. He brings the pink fallen Lantern Sinestro to life. Unfortunately the film makes the terrible decision not to make Hal’s archenemy the main antagonist. Save for a mid-credits scene of Sinestro wearing the yellow ring that goes nowhere. Instead they chose the ridiculously obscure Hector Hammond. A big headed scientist played by a screeching Peter Sarsgaard. An awful villain that forces Hal to stay on Earth far too long. And let’s thrown in Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller, why not?

When Parallax is punched into the sun, Green Lantern ends with a lesson about overcoming fear. I just wish the movie could have overcome a seriously inconsistent boring tone. One of the major DC superheroes shouldn’t have a meta tone or jokes made at the characters expense. That’s why I’m still annoyed by the movie’s failure. I even memorized the oath: “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power–Green Lantern’s light!” He’s a cool character that doesn’t deserve to be the butt of so many (funny) jokes. Or overlooked in a team that he helped found (*cough* Justice League). Green Lantern was a waste of good willpower.

Green Lantern

The Green Lantern Corps

The Movie You Will Never See

100 Years is a movie directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring John Malkovich. It was filmed in 2015 and will not be released until the year 2115. That’s right, this film will not be seen by anyone till those 100 years are up. So unless you plan on living 100 years from now, don’t expect to ever see it.

Why was a movie like this made? It has something to do with Cognac. Apparently Louis XIII Cognac takes exactly 100 years to make. So the company teamed up with Rodriguez and Malkovich to make a movie that coincides with its release. They then proceed to lock 100 Years in a high tech vault with bullet proof glass and an automatic timer. Leaving behind metal tickets for the cast and crew’s descendants. Only three “what if” trailers titled Retro, Nature, and Future exist online.

Since I know it’s impossible for me to ever see this movie, I devised a plan to break into the vault. So I traveled to Cognac, France where the vault is located. I bought a burglar’s kit and lowered myself into the Louis XIII cellar via suspension cable. Using a blowtorch, I attempted to cut through the metal. But breaking into the vault proved exceedingly difficult. So I abandoned that plan and instead had myself frozen. Luckily I was able to wake up exactly 100 years in the future.

100 Years just might be the greatest movie I’ve ever seen. With emotional complexity and dazzling special effects. Although it’s nothing compared to 2115’s hyper-realism, but I’ve already said too much. Since time travel was invented, I traveled back to the 21st century before anybody knew I was gone… April Fools! Like everyone else, I’ll never see 100 Years. But that’s not gonna stop me from reviewing the movie anyway.

100

Louis XIII Cognac is placed in the vault

The Bare Necessities

The Jungle Book is the last animated film produced by legendary pioneer filmmaker Walt Disney. A man whose influence can still be felt more than 50 years after his untimely death. Although The Sword in the Sword was the last animated film released in his lifetime, The Jungle Book was the last one  with his personal touch. As the nineteenth animated production (plus all of his live-action work), that equalled about 81 movie’s Disney had a hand in. So his final film had to go out with a bang. Luckily The Jungle Book turned out to be a perfect choice. Disney really wanted to do another story about animals. That’s when the famous 1894 Rudyard Kipling book was brought to his attention.

Most fans of the book know that the original stories were very dark and episodic. Mowgli is still a man-cub living in the Indian jungle, but the tone is far more philosophical. With themes of one’s place in society and the tension between man and animal. Disney didn’t wanna do any of that. That was the direction at first, but Disney just wanted to have fun with the story. It’s possible his failing health influenced the light hearted tone. With far more focus on swinging jungle fun that made this the best outing Walt Disney could have asked for (effectively ending the Silver Age)…

32. The Jungle Book

Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera in the jungle

The Jungle Book was one of me and brother’s all time favorite Disney movies when we were man-cubs. The infectious music and fun characters meant frequent rewatches on VHS. Although Disney’s death was likely a factor, The Jungle Book nevertheless deserves all the appreciation its gotten over the years. Even if it’s surprisingly light on plot. With the opening of its titular book, the story begins in the jungles of India. It’s there that the baby man-cub Mowgli is discovered. Mowgli is the final child character that Disney worked on. He’s the second most iconic literary jungle human, best recognized by his red loincloth. Mowgli is notably the first non-white lead in an animated Disney movie. As Mowgli is of Indian descent.

Bagheera the black panther discovers the man-cub all alone in a basket. So he decides to bring him to the wolves. Where they lovingly raise him as one of their own. Until the jungle becomes too dangerous for him. Bagheera is a straightlaced, but caring guardian to Mowgli. He escorts him to the man village where he’ll be safe from a notorious predator. On his reluctant journey, Mowgli meets all sorts of colorful animal characters. The first is a deadly python named Kaa. A more comical threat that hypnotizes his dinner before eating them. Kaa strangely has the exact same voice as a certain sweet honey loving bear. Next Mowgli encounters a pack of marching pachyderms. Colonel Hathi is the head elephant who runs his pack like the military. Including his wife and son. The segment is mostly just there to fill time.

Then Mowgli befriends one of the best animated Disney sidekicks of all time. A happy-go-lucky bear who enjoys the bare necessities named Baloo. Baloo is a hilarious comic foil who brings the fun loving picture to life. Helped greatly by celebrity comedian Phil Harris. In fact, The Jungle Book was another rare animated production that employed famous voice actors. Mowgli is then snatched up by a band of monkey’s that take him to orangutan King Louie. A jazz influenced original character modeled after his voice actor Louis Prima. He’s not in the book, but he does briefly reference the “red flower” (fire). When Baloo and Bagheera rescue Mowgli, the latter convinces the former to let the man-cub go. A betrayed Mowgli runs off just in time for Shere Khan to arrive.

Shere Khan is a classy tiger complete with evil British accent. He’s one of the best villainous Disney animals with a deep hatred for man. After another nasty encounter with Kaa, Mowgli finds himself in the outskirts of the jungle. There he meets a wake of vultures clearly inspired by the Beatles. Who unsurprisingly turned down a chance to voice. Mowgli and Shere Khan face off in battle aided by a brave Baloo. It’s a one-sided fight that only ends when Mowgli uses fire against the scaredy cat. Although it seems like the man-cub will live happily with his father-like bear friend, something catches his attention. An Indian girl that inspires Mowgli to finally enter the man village.

The Jungle Book once again uses sketchy animation, but the story is simple enough for it to work. With stylized animal characters that became Disney icons. Although The Jungle Book was one of the first Disney movies to extensively use recycled animation. It’s almost silly how many shots are repurposed over and over again. All with varying angles that are either at night or during the day. Shots from One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone were recycled as well. That doesn’t affect things much, since the music is really the main attraction.

More modern jazzy 60’s beats were used in many very catchy songs. There’s Kaa’s creepy villain song “Trust in Me.” King Louie’s infectiously upbeat swinging tune “I Wan’na Be Like You.” Then there’s the less notable, but still memorable “Colonel Hathi’s March,” “That’s What Friends Are For,” and “My Own Home.” The best song in the whole movie is easily Baloo’s laid back signature tune “The Bare Necessities.” A song my brother and I sang often when we were younger. With the sense of fun Walt Disney was hoping for, The Jungle Book was a jungle boogie that wouldn’t be recaptured for years to come.

33. The Jungle Book

Shere Khan threatens Kaa

The Young King Arthur

The Sword in the Stone is the most underrated animated film from the Silver Age of Disney. Not that it would ever be considered one of the all time greats. And certainly not when compared to everything else released during the 50’s-60’s era. Of course Mary Poppins was released the following year. So it’s possible Disney put all his energy into that. Although One Hundred and One Dalmatians was a budget friendly success, Roy Disney still urged his younger brother to shut down animation. Succeeding only in limiting the production of animated movies.

The Sword in the Stone is both based on Arthurian legend and a 1938 novel of the same name written by T. H. White. Most people are familiar with the basics of the story. Of how Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone, became King, started the Knights of the Round Table, and was mentored by Merlin. Well Walt Disney was more interested in the younger days of Arthur. In favor of another movie called Chantecler. The rights to the story were bought as far back as 1939. Although the war was a factor, it was really a lack of development that kept the eighteenth production in the stone for so long…

30. The Sword in the Stone

Arthur pulls the sword from the stone

The Sword in the Stone was not something I saw often as a lad. I saw it maybe twice when I was younger, but it never really stood out much to me. At least not as much as my brother. Just like in the book that’s opened, former King of England Uther Pendragon dies without an heir to the throne. So to decide who would rule, a sword is sent down from Heaven. Placed in an anvil stone that only the true king can lift. Many have tried to pull the sword from the stone, but all have failed. Plunging England into the Dark Ages. That’s where Merlin comes in. Disney’s greatest animated wizard. The movie may be generally forgotten, but Merlin is still the most memorable character. He’s much more eccentric than in the legend with a cartoonishly long beard and pointy cape. He’s definitely the funniest character, matched by his back talking owl Archimedes.

Merlin predicts a child will fall through his hutt in the forest. The child turns out to be 12 year old orphan Arthur. Nicknamed Wart by his brutish foster brother Sir Kay and foster father Sir Ector. Although trained to be a lowly squire, Merlin sees the potential in the lad. As he seeks to educate the boy with magical lessons. Wart is a fine enough lead full of heart, but his voice is really distracting (and not just because it’s American). He was voiced by three separate child actors. The first went through puberty, so he was replaced by two brothers. Strangely enough, Wart’s voice actor even changes in the same scene.

The magical lessons are probably the most memorable scenes outside of the titular climax. Merlin’s magic shows Wart the perspective of a fish from the sea, a squirrel from the land, and a bird from the air. The squirrel segment always stood out to me the most. It features a girl squirrel that falls in love with Wart. Although it sadly ends with the poor squirrel discovering he’s human. Along the way, Wart encounters the mad Madam Mim. A villainous, but not at all intimidating black magic witch. The animal transforming wizard’s duel she shares with Merlin is colorful fun. Eventually Wart, Kay, and Ector leave for a jousting tournament in London.

It’s pure happenstance that Arthur pulls the sword from the stone. A true Disney moment that grants him the rank of King Arthur. Even if he doesn’t want the honor at first, a time traveling Merlin convinces him otherwise. The only real problem with The Sword in the Stone is a lackadaisical sort of aimless plot. Comedy is more important than making the legend epic. Especially evident with the even more sketchy animation that I feel works more against the film. It doesn’t help that none of the songs became classics. Although if I had to pick a favorite, I guess it would be “Higitus Figitus.” The Sword in the Stone is not the definitive take on King Arthur, but it’s still a fun enough romp that offers harmless Disney magic.

31. The Sword in the Stone

Merlin gives Arthur a lesson

Get those Puppies!

One Hundred and One Dalmatians will leave you seeing spots. This is the seventeenth animated Disney production and the first released in the groovy 60’s. By this point, the animation studio was facing a financial crisis caused by Sleeping Beauty. The expensive production failed to make back its budget, so it was decided that more inexpensive animation needed to be utilized. Making this the first Disney movie to replace hand inked cel animation with xeroxed photographic techniques. I don’t really understand animation well enough to tell you how, but they gave One Hundred and One Dalmatians a sketchy look.

The film is based on a 1956 children’s book written by Dodie Smith titled The Hundred and One Dalmatians. It was a simple enough story that Walt Disney loved. Hardly anything from the book was changed. Making this one of the few animated Disney movies set in modern day. As most others up to this point were either fairy tales or set several decades in the past. One Hundred and One Dalmatians also returned to the relatively safe animal focused narrative. Some dogs from Lady and the Tramp even make a cameo. Well 101 canine friends were more than enough to win people over…

28. One Hundred and One Dalmations

One Hundred and One Dalmatians

One Hundred and One Dalmatians was definitely a pleasant viewing experience as a young pup. Although I only occasionally watched it on VHS, I still knew the movie well enough as a Disney staple. Set in modern day London, England, a Dalmatian named Pongo lives with his pet songwriter Roger. Of course everything is from a dog’s perspective. So to a dog, a human would be a pet. When Pongo gets lonely, he searches for a companion for him and Roger. After examining several women who look like their dogs, he finally finds their respective soulmates. A lovely Dalmatian named Perdita and her equally lovely human Anita. Each couple is promptly married after a funny meet-cute.

Months later, Pongo and Perdita are living happily with Roger and Anita. Along with their caring newly appointing Nanny. Perdita is expecting, meanwhile Roger tries to find words for his new song. At least until the perfect inspiration comes strolling in. As if her name wasn’t an indication, Cruella de Vil is one of the most unsympathetically evil Disney villains ever created. She’s a cruelly vain devil of a woman who both lives for and worships furs. Despite being frail, her enormous fur coat represents her eccentric personality. Throw in an extra long cigarette holder plus black & white hair and you’ve got another iconic Disney villainess. With one of the greatest villain songs ever written. “Cruella de Vil” is the infectiously catchy signature song that Roger comes up with.

Since Cruella somehow knew Anita from school, she tries repeatedly to purchase their puppies before being told no. When the puppies are born, Perdita gives birth to 15 of them. 15 absolutely adorable Dalmatian puppies with cute British accents. The most notable ones being the rowdy Patch, the miracle dog Lucky, the always hungry Rolly, the sweet Penny, Freckles, Pepper, etc. Although commonly associated with firefighting, Dalmatians received an increase in popularity at the time. Even though they’re a notoriously temperamental breed that require a great deal of patience. Regardless, the Pongos are a loving family that enjoy watching dog shows together (specifically Thunderbolt). Unfortunately, Cruella sends bumbling hooligans Jasper & Horace to kidnap the puppies. It’s only at her aptly named “Hell Hall” manor that her despicable plan becomes clear. She plans to make spotted fur coats out of over 99 Dalmatian puppies.

When humans fail, devoted parents Pongo and Perdita spring into action. They send a distress call out to every dog in the surrounding area using a barking chain called the “Twilight bark.” There’s something sort of heart warming about seeing such crisis concerning canine comradery. Of course plenty of other animals help out as well. Along with a goose and horse, it’s a cat that initially helps the 99 puppies escape. Then it’s some cows that give the puppies milk after they’ve been walking in the snow. Meanwhile, Jasper, Horace, and Cruella are in hot pursuit of the Dalmatians. Who are finally able to get away using soot as a Labrador disguise. What follows is a tense car chase where Cruella’s driving just gets angrier and angrier. Until she crashes into her henchmen, losing the puppies forever.

The Dalmatians return in time for Christmas and it’s decided that a large plantation is the only thing that can accommodate 101 dogs. One Hundred and One Dalmatians is actually more charming with its sketchy animation. Disney may not have been a huge fan of it, but that many spots would have been a nightmare to draw any other way. Apart from the “Kanine Krunchies Jingle” and “Dalmatian Plantation,” “Cruella de Vil” is really the only noteworthy song in the movie. Nevertheless, One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a wholesome doggy tale you’re bound to love 101%.

29. One Hundred and One Dalmations

Cruella De Vil sees something she likes

Once Upon a Dream

Sleeping Beauty is the last great fairy tale made in Walt Disney’s lifetime. As the animation studio wouldn’t return to their winning Disney princess formula for well over 30 years. The reason being that it performed surprisingly low at the time of its release. Sleeping Beauty was the sixthteenth animated Disney movie and the most expensive one made at the time. That coupled with audiences that thought it was too similar to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, are why it underperformed. Well like most movies made in the Silver Age, it received a far warmer reevaluation.

Sleeping Beauty is based on the 1800’s French fairy tale of the same name. Which was retitled Little Briar Rose in the Brothers Grimm version. All interpretations feature a princess awakened by true love’s kiss, but names vary between writers. Just as unspecific is the villain who is simply described as a Wicked Fairy Godmother. Needless to say, Disney made the story their own. Sleeping Beauty was made in response to the success of previous princess movie Cinderella. So it was shot in widescreen just like Lady and the Tramp, featured more improved sound, and more unique animated backgrounds…

26. Sleeping Beauty

Prince Phillip awakens Princess Aurora

Sleeping Beauty is my personal favorite Disney princess movie of the original three made by Walt Disney. As a child I watched it several times on VHS, because I felt it was the most balanced. There was plenty of romance to appeal to the female demographic. As well as plenty of action to appeal to the male demographic. Not that I didn’t love both equally. The opening of the book starts it all. Once upon a time a King and Queen welcome a daughter into their lives. “They named her after the dawn, for she filled their lives with sunshine.” Princess Aurora is a Disney princess who’s a bit difficult to describe. Not for her hair of sunshine gold and lips red as the rose, but because she only appears for 18 minutes with a mere 18 lines of dialogue. When we do see Aurora, her personality can sort of be described as longing. That’s why the particularly strong supporting characters have to shine through.

At the christening of their daughter, King Stefan and Queen Leah (Disney’s only living parents at the time) welcome the three good fairies into their kingdom. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are really the stars of the movie, because they do all the work. Flora is the leader dressed in red, Fauna is the compassionate one dressed in green, and Merryweather is the headstrong one dressed in blue. They’re funny, magical, and take an active role in the action. During the christening, Flora blesses Aurora with beauty, Fauna with song, Merryweather with… Just then the greatest Disney villain of all time arrives. As well as the best animated female villain.

Maleficent is an evil fairy who curses baby Aurora, simply because she didn’t receive an invitation. It doesn’t get more evil than that. I mean her name literally means “to cause harm.” I don’t often mention voice actors from classic Disney, but Eleanor Audley deserves all the credit. She gave Maleficent a commanding cackling charisma. While dressed in a sinister black gown complete with horns and magic staff. Her curse specifies that before the sun sets on Aurora’s 16th birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. To counter the spell, Merriweather blesses her instead with ageless sleep that can be broken by true love’s kiss. As an added precaution, the three good fairies raise her while in disguise as a simple peasant girl named Briar Rose.

16 years later, Rose dreams of a prince she met once upon a dream. With her animal friends by her side, they help make her dream come true. Until the real prince cuts in. Prince Phillip is the first Disney prince to have a name, a personality, and to actually participate in the action. Even though Philip also stops talking right after a word with his father King Hubert. Who randomly shares wine with King Stefan and a drunken mandolin player. Unbeknownst to them that they’re the betrothed prince and princess, Aurora and Phillip fall in love after a memorable dance in the forest. Meanwhile a hilarious chain of events where the fairies cook a cake and sew a dress leads to Maleficent’s crow discovering them. In a haunting sequence, a hypnotized Aurora pricks her finger on a magically appearing spinning wheel.

With Aurora becoming a sleeping beauty, the fairies put the rest of the kingdom to sleep as well. But not before realizing Prince Philip is the true love needed to break the curse. So the fairies free him from Maleficent’s forbidden mountain. What follows is easily one of the most exciting action sequences in all of Disney’s history. In grand medieval fashion, Philip rides his noble steed equipped with the shield of virtue and sword of truth. Maleficent only becomes more evil when unleashing all the powers of Hell. She transforms into a purple green flame throwing dragon for him to slay.

When slayed, Philip is finally able to kiss Aurora, breaking the curse. And no I don’t have a problem with the fairy tale moment. They share another memorable dance in the clouds where Aurora’s trademark dress turns pink & blue and live happily ever after. Sleeping Beauty has many unique distinctions that set it apart from most magical Disney adventures. The background animation has a far more art deco renaissance feel complete with square trees. To match that look, most of the characters are given a sharper design. Despite being a musical, the songs don’t really stand out as much as the instrumentals. The best song is easily Aurora’s romantic dreamer song “Once Upon a Dream.” Sleeping Beauty is in fact a dream come true.

27. Sleeping Beauty

Prince Phillip fights Maleficent

Puppy Love

Lady and the Tramp is the greatest canine romance ever put to film. So it’s hard to believe people didn’t appreciate it upon its release. Everyone loves dogs after all. Well fortunately Lady and the Tramp is now seen as the animated Disney classic that it always ways. Lady and the Tramp was probably the closest thing to an original idea Walt Disney made at the time. Lady was actually based on the dog of one of Disney’s story artists. Disney loved the idea, but thought it was too light. Enter the Tramp. A character inspired by a short story from Cosmopolitan titled “Happy Dan, the Cynical Dog.”

The rest of the movie drew heavily from personal experiences with man’s best friend. After many human focused adventures like Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp became the first animal focused Disney animated movie since Bambi. As well as the fifthteenth made by the studio. Being something of a passion project, Lady and the Tramp had many firsts. It was the first movie disturbed by the entirely Disney owned company Buena Vista and it was the first animated movie filmed in widescreen CinemaScope…

24. Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp share a plate of spaghetti

Lady and the Tramp was a dog centered Disney movie that I couldn’t help but love when I was younger. I didn’t watch it as frequently on VHS, but it was still a staple (despite my never officially having a dog). Lady and the Tramp is a classic love story about two individuals from different social classes. Only this time done entirely from the perspective of a dog. That means everything is drawn from a low angle with most human characters having partially obscured faces. On Christmas day in 1909, Jim Dear and Darling receive the very adorable puppy Lady as a present. After a sequence I’m sure most dog owners can relate to, Lady grows up.

Lady is a lovely purebred Cocker Spaniel who lives in a high end upper-middle class neighborhood. Like most dogs, Lady is full of energy and loves attention. Her friends are the Scottish accented Scottish Terrier Jock and older Bloodhood who lost his sense of smell Trusty. We spend a lot of time on the average everyday experiences of a dog. Including receiving their first collar & license and the more life changing addition of a baby to the family. That’s where Tramp comes in. Tramp is a stray part Schnauzer part Terrier mutt from the wrong side of the tracks. Known by his reputation of always evading dog catchers. After freeing his friends Peg and Bull, Tramp winds up in the rich neighborhood where he meets Lady. His cynical attitude towards being a pet clashes with her naive optimism. They couldn’t be more different, but he does have a heart of gold.

After the baby is born, Jim Dear and Darling leave him to be looked after by Aunt Sarah. I know she’s supposed to mean well, but I can’t help but to hate the way she treats Lady. Even worse is her evil Siamese cats. Chinese stereotypes that annoyingly blame their mess on Lady. She’s then taken to get a muzzle, but Lady escapes into the big bad world. Where the Tramp rescues her from a pack of vicious dogs. After a whistling beaver gets the muzzle off, Tramp shows Lady the exciting life of a stray dog. Then they share a romantic date at an Italian restaurant. Not only is this the most iconic scene in the animated film, it’s also one of the most iconic scenes in film period. Hard to believe Disney almost cut it. There’s just something about seeing two dogs accidentally kiss while sharing a plate of spaghetti & meatballs. Something many couples have tried to replicate.

They fall in love, but Lady unfortunately winds up in the dog house. It’s a surprisingly depressing sequence that doesn’t stray away from what living in a pound is like. Lady also discovers the Tramps trampy past. She stops speaking to him, but there’s an even greater problem that needs to be dealt with. A monsterous rat that goes after the baby. Tramp shows his true colors, but is still sent away. Trusty uses his nose to sacrifice himself, but there’s no way the movie would kill him off. Just like the beginning, Lady and the Tramp enjoy Christmas day with Jock, Trusty, and their puppies. Three that look like Lady and a scampy one that looks like Tramp.

Lady and the Tramp is only enhanced by its widescreen format. Something that was a bit of a learning curve for the animators, but they pulled it off. Giving them more sweeping backgrounds and characters to fill the screen. Just like with Bambi, real dogs were used as reference. They certainly captured all the mannerisms that we know and love. Music wise, “He’s a Tramp” has always been a sultry favorite. While obviously cringy, “We are Siamese” is still pretty catchy. But “Bella Notte” is a romantic serenade from the heart. Lady and the Tramp is just as loveable as its titualar canine couple.

25. Lady and the Tramp

Christmas with Lady, Tramp, and family

You Can Fly!

Peter Pan will make you feel young again. As I would consider it to be the definitive take on the boy who never grew up. Peter Pan was a project that Walt Disney wanted to make right after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was originally based on a stage play by J. M. Barrie titled Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Which was shortly adapted into the children’s novel Peter and Wendy (that I partially read). Although the original story was a bit darker and sort of tailor made for theater, Disney still wanted a hand in another adaptation.

Paramount had the live-action film rights, but not the animated film rights. I honestly don’t think any property has had as many cross media reinterpretations as Peter Pan. Of course the story had to be Disneyfied a bit to keep characters like Peter or Tinker Bell more likable. Just like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan was one of the three feature length animation projects that needed to be put on hold until the war ended. Eventually becoming the fourteenth Disney animated film overall…

Peter Pan

Peter teaches Wendy and her brothers to fly

Peter Pan is actually one of my personal favorite Disney movies. I watched it on VHS numerous times when I myself was a kid who wanted to hold onto his childhood. Mostly because Peter Pan was very much targeted at a male demographic. I loved the swashbuckling action and greater focus on physical comedy. Along with a healthy dose of Disney magic that gave it the classic feel. Peter Pan begins with three Darling children named Wendy, John, and Michael. Wendy Darling is arguably the star of the story. In London, England during the 1900’s, Wendy lives in the nursery with her two brothers who are looked after by their St. Bernard nursemaid Nana. Despite her father’s insistence that she should grow up, Wendy encourages her brothers love of stories about Peter Pan.

Peter Pan is one of the most famous characters in all of fiction. He quickly became an icon for Disney as well. A leafy green outfit with a feathered hat makes sense, but I never understood why he has pointy ears. As a boy who never grew up, Peter is full of childlike mischief. Most plays cast a woman to play Peter, but Disney mainstay Bobby Driscoll got the part instead. Peter flies into the Darling house in search of his lost shadow. Waking Wendy in the process. She desperately wants to see Neverland, so Peter decides to take her there to become their mother. Something that makes Tinker Bell jealous. Tinker Bell is a fairy with a blonde 50’s style bun and leaf dress who never leaves Peter’s side. Tink was different than other female Disney characters at the time. She was a curvy cutie who was sassy and showed jealousy without having to say a word. Tinker Bell was so popular that she became the magical face of Disney during all of its studio intros.

In the most famous scene in the movie, Peter helps Wendy, John, and Michael to fly with him to Neverland. All it takes is faith, trust, and a little pixie dust. By taking the second star to the right and straight on till morning, Peter and company arrive at Neverland. A mythical land where you never grow up. Just like in the original story, Neverland is an island populated by pirates, mermaids, indians, and the Lost Boys. Children dressed in animal skins that were also taken by Peter.

The first true male Disney villain and Peter Pan’s archenemy is Captain Hook. A flamboyant pirate dressed in red with a hook for a hand. Something that Peter cut off and fed to a crocodile as a practical joke. Captain Hook is easily one of the funniest Disney villains along with his bumbling first mate Mr. Smee. Although generally realistic, their antics are very exaggerated in a more cartoony way. Especially when the ticking crocodile attacks. Not that Hook doesn’t have his cold hearted moments. Like shooting one of his shipmates mid-song.

When Tink goes too far, she’s banished by Peter. Who proceeds to take Wendy to see the mermaids. Meanwhile, John and Michael take the Lost Boys to find the indians. Mermaids are beautiful, but show their true colors when they casually try to drown Wendy. The indians are easily the most controversial part of the movie. Along with some stray sexist remarks, the indians are obviously racist caricatures drawn to look as red as possible. It’s outdated, but far too important to cut out. I’ll at least say that they are depicted as clever warriors with a sense of honor. When the lovely daughter of the Chief Tiger Lily is kidnapped, Peter comes to the rescue.

After a bonfire celebration that didn’t age well, Wendy reminds everyone of their mother. Which leads to a raid that nearly ends Peter’s life. Until Tink gets caught in the crossfire (“I do believe in fairies”). With Wendy and the boys taken to Hook’s ship, Peter Pan faces the old codfish once and for all. Peter wins the duel and sprinkles the ship with pixie dust. Flying Wendy, John, and Michael back to their family. Peter Pan takes flight with gloriously fast paced animation and plenty of memorable sword fights. The best remembered songs include the villainous sea shanty “A Pirates Life,” the catchy “Following the Leader,” the mildly uncomfortable “What Made the Red Man Red?,” and the inspiring “You Can Fly!” Peter Pan never gets old.

23. Peter Pan

Peter faces Captain Hook

A Very Very Unbirthday

Alice in Wonderland invites you to go tumbling down the rabbit hole. With perhaps the most surreal movie Walt Disney ever produced. Alice in Wonderland is based on one of the most beloved children’s fantasy novels ever written. While under the very obvious influence of drugs, Lewis Carroll created a wonderful world of curious nonsense. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are 1800’s books that popularized that most unusual subgenre. Walt Disney was a fan of the Alice books since childhood. It was always his intention to bring it to the big screen.

First as a live-action/animation hybrid, then as a much more appropriate entirely animated feature. The war and production cost forced Disney to put Alice in Wonderland on hold along with three other projects. Although done simultaneously, Cinderella beat Alice in Wonderland to become the first of the Silver Age. While the latter became the thirteenth animated Disney film. Which was surprisingly panned by critics and longtime book fans alike. Most complained that there was too much Disneyfication of the mad Carroll tale. At least until the more psychedelic 60’s came around, which earned Alice in Wonderland the appropriate rank of cult classic…

20. Alice in Wonderland

Alice has tea with the Mad Hatter and March Hare

Alice in Wonderland was so nonsensical that my childhood history with the movie was just as unusual. I definitely saw it a couple of times on VHS, but certain moments stood out to me more than others. I have fond memories of the tea party and ending with the Red Queen more than anything else. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Rather than frontwards, I should go backwards. Alice in Wonderland begins in a barely seen Victorian England that centers around Alice. Disney’s third animated heroine who’s sometimes included in the princess lineup. Rather than a child like in the books, Alice is an elegant, well mannered, young lady with her head in the clouds. Notably dressed in her iconic puffy blue dress.

Alice imagines a Wonderland where everything is nonsense. So we start by seeing a White Rabbit dressed in a waistcoat carrying a pocket watch. He’s late, he’s late, for a very important date! So in classic Disney fashion, Alice goes tumbling down the rabbit hole and into the curiouser and curiouser world of Wonderland. A colorful land where nothing makes sense. In her movie long pursuit of the White Rabbit, Alice meets all sorts of truly mad characters. The first is a doorknob that convinces Alice to grow smaller and larger. Since in Wonderland, “Drink Me” bottles make you shrink and “Eat Me” biscuits make you grow. It’s her tears that help her through the keyhole.

Then Alice crosses paths with a sailor Dodo and the oddball pair Tweedledee & Tweedledum. Egg shaped twins that tell Alice the tale of “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” A surprisingly dark story about a walrus that tricks a group of baby oysters into becoming dinner. Alice eventually catches up to the Rabbit, but grows to the size of house instead. When she shrinks again, Alice is greeted by a bouquet of rude talking flowers that mistake her for a weed. Then Alice meets the most obvious drug metaphor in the book. An articulate hookah-smoking Caterpillar that instructs Alice to grow by ingesting mushrooms. Alice then meets the hilariously random Cheshire Cat. A mad grinning cat that can disappear.

However, the most famous scene in Alice in Wonderland is of the mad tea party. Where the goofball Mad Hatter and insane March Hare are celebrating their Unbirthday with the drunken Dormouse. Why today is my unbirthday too. The tea party is full of nonsensical tea gags that go absolutely nowhere. When Wonderland becomes too much for Alice, the Cheshire Cat returns to point her in the direction of the Queen. The last character we meet in the slowly paced movie. After helping her army of playing cards paint the roses red, Alice encounters the Queen of Hearts (and the King). She’s a loud pompous tyrannical Disney Villain known for the phrase “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!” A quick game of flamingo croquet brings out her temper and Alice is sent to court. Where every mad Wonderland resident comes flooding in and finally wakes Alice up.

Animation is the only medium that could bring Alice in Wonderland to life. With trippy visuals much in the style of Fantasia. Character designs remained very faithful to the original illustrations. Making almost everyone in Wonderland a Disney icon. Music was another priority with memorable songs like “I’m Late,” “Painting the Roses Red,” and my personal favorite “The Unbirthday Song.” The rest of the many songs are less well known. Alice in Wonderland is a wonderfully silly piece of nonsensical art.

21. Alice in Wonderland

Alice meets the Red Queen