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10 Highly Underrated Disney Animated Films

Disney has become one of the most prosperous and beloved film companies in the world. While many of their films are regularly recognized, watched, and talked about, there are a select number of Disney films that have not received as much recognition as they deserve. Here are a few of those hidden gems (in no particular order):


1.     Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

A quick-paced film with a running time of only an hour and 36 minutes, this beautifully animated film brings one of the world’s most common legends to life. Atlantis has such a fun variety of characters, perilous adventure in an unknown world, and awesome flying device thingies that we wish we had on the surface. The animation and the story are one of a kind and so fun to watch.  (I didn’t even know until a couple of years ago that Michael J. Fox voice-acted for Milo, so that’s pretty rad!)


2.     Pinocchio (1940)

I’m sure you’ve all heard the song “When You Wish Upon A Star”, right? It’s often forgotten that this is the film from which that song originated. This film is a classic, with its fun soundtrack, magic, scenes that make you laugh, scenes that make you cry; it’s wonderful.  (*cough cough* Parents, if you want your kids to learn a little more about right and wrong, have them watch this movie.) 


3.     The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Think Sherlock Holmes, but with one of Disney’s favorite plot characteristics: talking animals. This movie is adorable, funny, exciting, suspenseful; you name it, it’s got it. Not to mention the original film soundtrack, which is just fantastic. This one has me on the edge of my seat every time I watch it.


4.     Treasure Planet (2002)

If you read Treasure Island as a kid, you’ll LOVE Treasure Planet. This story mixes classic pirate adventures with space travel in the most flawless ways possible. This film also mixes some 3D animation in with the 2D, which makes watching it all the more exciting.  


5.     The Sword in the Stone (1963)

A twist on the classic King Arthur tales, this is one of those films that makes you laugh out loud no matter how many times you’ve watched it. One of the most fun things to do while watching this one is spotting where they’ve recycled pieces of scenes from other Disney movies. Other than that, this film’s got magic, dragons, jousting, a talking owl; it’s a medieval classic. Fun fact: this was the last animated film to be released when Walt Disney was still alive. 


6.     Brother Bear (2003)

Another Disney film featuring Phil Collins on its soundtrack, Brother Bear is in my opinion one of the best film Disney has made that teaches its audience about love. Rather than turn to the typical “true love’s kiss” type-plot, this movie puts a new spin on the words “brotherly love” in the sweetest and most heartwarming ways. Also the characters are relatable and hilarious, and the animation is just beautiful.


7.     Meet the Robinsons (2007)

“Keep moving forward” – need I say more? This happens to be my personal favorite film of all time, so don’t hate me if I’m a little biased. But I mean, come on, what’s not to love? Time travel, robotic hats, pet dinosaurs, spaceship-flying pizza delivery guys; not to mention the biggest plot twist that had my little 10-year-old heart racing when I saw it in theaters for the first time. Just, watch it, please. It’s phenomenal.


8.     The Black Cauldron (1985)

This is by far one of Disney’s most controversial films. It was almost rated R because of the nightmarish content, and it wasn’t released to home video until 1998 because of the financial loss it caused the company. However, despite all of this, the classic story of a rising hero, a princess, an undead king, and a magical pig stands as one of Disney’s most original and ultimately wholesome stories. It might be scary, but it’s pretty dang cool. 


9.     The Rescuers (1977) & The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

Disney sure does love using mice, don’t they? Well regardless, The Rescuers and Down Under are unique and so fun to watch. Both films include some underrated villains which I believe deserve spots next to Maleficent, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil. And, the adventure in both films is so exciting. One features a suspenseful trek through a deep dark marsh, and another features a high-flying adventure through the Australian outback. What more could you ask for?


10.  A Goofy Movie (1995)

No, this is not the one where Goofy dances at the disco or where Max goes to college. This one came before that; it’s the original, and in my opinion, it’s so much better. This movie introduces a new side of one of Disney’s most classic characters: Goofy, as a single dad. Of course Goofy is hilariously embarrassing as a father, but his son Max loves him regardless, and we love him too. I can’t even begin to describe the events that go down in the film. It’s just got… everything! Just go watch it and see what I mean. You won’t regret it.

If there are any films you think deserve to be added to this list, email bailey@oakfilmco.com and let us know!