- Animated Disney movies like “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story” have been received with critical acclaim.
- Disney has won 12 of the 17 Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature since 2001
- Not all Disney films are a hit with critics, however. Films like “Oliver & Company” and “Robin Hood” have been widely criticised for a lack of originality.
Disney’s animated movies are like no other. Films like “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story” have continued to delight entire generations with their stunning visuals and original songs. Disney films have consistently been awarded the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, securing 12 awards in the category’s 17-year history.
That said, it is hard to believe some Disney movies didn’t quite make the mark. Films like “Oliver & Company” and “Cars 2” haven’t been received overly well by critics.
Here are 20 of the best and worst Disney movies, according to critics.
“Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” got a score that’s 86 points lower than the original film’s.
“Cinderella II” followed the now-princess Cinderella into married life. The movie was written to follow the events that occurred in the original film, which scored a whopping 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
What critics said: “If Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ proved that ‘a dream is a wish your heart makes,’ then ‘Cinderella II’ proves that a nightmare is a wish a studio’s wallet makes.” – Michael Dequina, TheMovieReport.com
“Planes” (2013) didn’t impress most critics.
Although Disney saw success with the “Cars” franchise, critics felt the storyline didn’t translate in this spin-off featuring Dane Cook as a “vertically-challenged” plane who wants to become a racer.
What critics said: “‘Planes’ is for the most part content to imitate rather than innovate, presumably hoping to reap a respectable fraction of the box office numbers of ‘Cars’ and ‘Cars 2,’ which together made hundreds of millions of dollars.” – Neil Genzlinger, New York Times
“Brother Bear” (2003) was a flop with most critics.
The film, featuring songs from Phil Collins, tells the story of a boy named Kenai who is transformed into a bear. He then becomes determined to become human again and he embarks on a journey to do so,b finding friends and foes along the way.
What critics said: “‘Brother Bear’ is a very mild animated entry from Disney with a distinctly recycled feel.” – Todd McCarthy,Variety
Some critics dubbed “Chicken Little” (2005) a bit too unoriginal.
“Chicken Little” was Disney’s first fully-CGI film that was not produced by Pixar. But according to critics, the impressive animation did not hide the film’s unoriginal plotline.
What critics said: “Tasteful vocal performances, by a talented cast including Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, and Steve Zahn, can’t relieve Disney’s first in-house all-computer-generated animation movie from its music video trappings and inadequate storyline.” –Cole Smithey
Some felt “Cars 2” (2011) was unnecessary.
Pixar’s follow-up to “Cars” (2006), “Cars 2” didn’t quite fare as well with critics. The story focuses on Lightning McQueen’s road to the World Grand Prix. It also follows his sidekick, Mater, who gets caught up in a bit of trouble along the way.
What critics said: “‘Cars 2’ demonstrates that not every hit movie merits a sequel.” – Claudia Puig, USA Today
“Oliver & Company” (1988) was dubbed “tolerable” by some critics.
This musical from Disney is a version of “Oliver Twist,” as told by New York City animals. It features Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, and Bette Midler, but came across as stiff to some critics and audiences.
What critics said: “The animation is fairly unexciting though serviceable, and the overall mystification of class difference would probably have made Dickens shudder, but kids should find this tolerable enough.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
“A Goofy Movie” (1995) wasn’t a hit with most critics.
In “A Goofy Movie,” Goofy and his teenage son Max take a road trip. The two go camping and Max schemes to go to a concert in Los Angeles. The movie is based on Disney Channel’s “Goof Troop,” and was given a straight-to-video sequel in 2000.
What critics said: “‘A Goofy Movie’ is engaging in its mild-mannered way, but the story is too rambling and emotionally diffuse for the title character to come fully alive.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times
“Robin Hood” (1973) was a hit at the box office, but not with critics.
The first feature film produced after Walt Disney’s death, “Robin Hood” saw an all-animal retelling of a classic tale. It was successful at the box office, but it has been criticised by some for its lacklustre colour scheme and recycled animation.
What critics said: “The washed-out, muted colours are a mistake, and if ‘Robin Hood’ is sometimes hilarious, it has little memorable magic.” – Alan R. Howard, The Hollywood Reporter
“Home On The Range” (2004) was deemed a major flop by some critics.
A take on the wild west, “Home On The Range” follows three underdog cows as they try to save their farm from going bankrupt. “Home On The Range” was Disney’s last traditionally-animated film until “Winnie The Pooh” and “The Princess Frog,” and is considered a major flop.
What critics said: “Within the forgettable musical numbers, and the boring climax, I just couldn’t force myself to find one thing positive about this.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
But other Disney movies like “The Incredibles” (2004) have earned an almost perfect score from critics.
On the other end of the spectrum, Disney has multiple titles a 97% score or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Incredibles” was a huge hit with audiences and critics alike for its innovative take on the traditional superhero flick and it even won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2004.
What critics said: “As always, Pixar excels with its animation, but what makes this family film even more appealing is the smartness of the script, which is clearly written, end to end, to appeal to adults as well as children.” – Jennifer Frey, Washington Post
“Coco” (2017) was a hit with audiences and critics.
2017 winner of the Academy Award For Best Animated Feature, “Coco” tells the story of a young boy who ventures into the Land Of The Dead to meet his musical idol, Ernesto de la Cruz.
What critics said: “Pixar’s Day-of-the-Dead gem pays loving tribute to Mexican culture with animation that brims over with visual pleasures, comic energy, and emotional wallop.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Critics praised “Moana” (2016) for its “refreshing” plot.
An updated version of many familiar fairy tale tropes, “Moana” follows the story of a young woman who sets out on a mission to save her people. It has been praised for its portrayal of the South Pacific myths and culture it draws upon, and for sending messages of female empowerment to young girls.
What critics said: “The narrative is a fairly predictable hero’s journey – Maui even calls her ‘The Chosen One’ – but the movie is refreshing for its lack of a love interest; instead Moana learns how to chart her own course.” – Leah Pickett, Chicago Reader
“Up” (2009) was lauded by critics.
“Up” is the 10th animated film from Pixar and it was the first animated and 3D film to ever open the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. The movie follows widower Carl on a once-in-a-lifetime journey alongside his 8-year-old neighbour, Russell.
What critics said: “An exquisite work of cinematic art that also happens to be the funniest, most touching, most exciting and most entertaining movie released so far this year.” – Lou Lumenick, New York Post
The star-studded “Inside Out” (2015) won most critics over.
Featuring the voices of Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, and Lewis Black, its star-studded cast isn’t the only thing that helps “Inside Out” shine. The movie shows the emotional journey of a young girl named Riley whose family moved to a different state. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger live in “Headquarters” in Riley’s brain and try to help her adjust.
What critics said: “On the scale of inventiveness, ‘Inside Out’ will be hard to top this year. As so often with Pixar, you feel that you are visiting a laboratory crossed with a rainbow.” – Anthony Lane,New Yorker
Along with critical acclaim, “Zootopia” (2016) won an Academy Award.
Winner of the 2016 Academy Award, “Zootopia” was said to tackle sensitive topics in a way young audiences can understand. The film was praised for covering race relations and police brutality through its use of sharp wit and parallels to our own world, without ever crossing the line of being preachy.
What critics said: “If ‘Zootopia’ becomes fortunate enough to fall into ‘Frozen’-style heavy rotation for kids of a certain age, its messages of rejecting prejudice and embracing the complicated nature of multiculturalism could do some good for the world.” – Andrew Lapin, NPR
“Toy Story 3” (2010) was a huge success in the box office and with critics.
After its release in 2010, “Toy Story 3” topped $US1 billion at the box office. The film welcomed back beloved characters Buzz and Woody as their owner, Andy prepared to go off to college. The toys navigate life in a daycare center and meet some new friends (and enemies) along the way.
What critics said: “It hits every button from laughter to tears and lifts you up on waves of visual dazzlement. And you don’t need to take a kid along to appreciate it… Tag it as one of the year’s best.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Critics gave “Finding Nemo” (2003) a near-perfect score.
“Finding Nemo” was the highest-grossing domestic film of 2003, and was one of the highest-selling DVDs of its time. The movie follows a protective clownfish crossing the ocean to find his son Nemo after he is captured by divers.
What critics said: “‘Finding Nemo’ is distributed by Disney and it has what the most heartfelt Disney animated features used to have: rapturous imagery matched with real wit.” -Peter Rainer, New York Magazine
“Toy Story” (1995) received a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Toy Story” follows a group of toys who come to life in the playroom of their owner, Andy. The beloved film is considered by some to be one of the greatest animated films of all time and it has inspired three sequels. The latest sequel, “Toy Story 4.” is expected to arrive in summer 2019.
What critics said: “With ‘instant classic’ written all over it, ‘Toy Story,’ the first full-length feature entirely composed of computer-generated animation, is a visually astounding, wildly inventive winner.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
Many critics dubbed “Toy Story 2” (1999) a great example of how to create a sequel.
Widely considered to be one of the only sequels to ever outshine the original, “Toy Story 2” delighted audiences as a follow-up to 1995’s “Toy Story.” The plot built upon the first film, but this time Andy is off at summer camp and the toys are left to their own devices. Woody is kidnapped by a collector and the toys must find a way to bring him home.
What critics said: “‘Toy Story 2’ is a brilliant example of that rarest of Hollywood phenomena a sequel to a major hit film that’s as good, if not better, than the original.” – Paul Clinton, CNN.com
“Pinocchio” (1940) also has a perfect score from critics.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
“Pinocchio” followed the story of a woodcarver who builds a puppet, Pinocchio, as a substitute son. Pinnochio dreams of becoming a human boy but must prove his kindness and truthfulness before doing so.
What critics said: “It still is the best thing Mr. Disney has done and therefore the best cartoon ever made.” – Frank S. Nugent, New York Times
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.