Not every animated movie is destined to go down as a children’s classic. Perhaps this is just me being overly judgmental again, but this week’s theatrical release of ‘The Emoji Movie’ doesn’t look like it will stand the test of time. With that in mind, let’s look at some of our other least favorite animated movies.
Disney made a downright awful Shakespeare adaptation that was so bad the studio wouldn’t even put its name on it. Instead, Disney released it under the rarely-used Touchstone Pictures banner. For me ‘Gnomeo & Juliet‘ is the absolute worst. The miserable movie is the type that leaves you groaning in disbelief at the stupidity unraveling before your eyes. I recall screening the movie and spending equal time picturing an animation team making fun of the stoopid movie as they worked on it, and watching the second hand of my watch tick the time away. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this Travelosity nightmare was deemed too cruel and unusual to be used as a method of torture. I’d rather by impaled by a garden gnome’s pointy cap than ever have to trudge through this maddening mess again.
I’m a major proponent for indulging in nostalgia, but when the nostalgia is not mine, it can be hard to sit through. Such was the case when I watched ‘The Last Unicorn‘. I don’t want to completely trash the movie, but thinking of it, or even watching ten seconds of it (or worse, hearing the theme song), triggers an almost allergic reaction in mine. That 92-minute film sort of never gets started, and then never ever ends.
M. Enois Duarte
It seems like common practice for smaller, independent studios to capitalize on the success of popular box-office hits from the major studios. For those who conveniently forgot and those who didn’t even know, such was the case for James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’. Not one, but two direct-to-video animated features were produced in Italy immediately following the success of that production: ‘Titanic: The Legend Goes On’ and ‘Legend of the Titanic’. In both cases, the plot revolves around a pair of star-crossed lovers fighting for love against a social system that wants to tear them apart. They’re each aided in this fantasy quest by talking animals. In addition to the shoddy animation style, the blatant ripoff of famous fairy tale stories is practically laughable and enough to regret even knowing these animated films exist. They both feature a young woman and a cruel stepmother. Of course, imagine the young couple surviving the infamous sinking of the ship so that everyone lives happily ever after.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
If I were to make an offhand reference to ‘Cinderella III: A Twist in Time’, chances are that many of those reading this would assume it’s some no-budget knockoff from the other end of the world or that I’m making that sequel up altogether. Nope! With the success of earlier direct-to-video experiments like ‘The Return of Jafar’, Disney eagerly set out to strip-mine every last ounce of good will to be found in its library of animated classics. These instantly forgettable “cheapquels” were churned out at a steady clip for a full decade, with not a single one managing to enter the public consciousness as their (mostly) legendary predecessors had. For instance, ‘The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea’ introduces us to Ariel’s daughter, only this time, she’s a human who’s hoodwinked by a waterlogged witch into becoming a mermaid. ‘Mulan II’ ravages everyone and everything worthwhile in the original film to make way for yet another quest for romance. ‘Bambi II’ isn’t a sequel so much as a midquel, exploring the relationship between the Great Prince of the Forest and a still-young Bambi in the wake of his mother’s untimely death. (Okay, I genuinely do enjoy that one.) For whatever reason, there are even sequels to ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’, ‘Brother Bear’ and ‘Atlantis’.
The worst of Disney’s direct-to-video cheapquels that I’ve been exposed to is ‘The Fox and the Hound II‘. If you know and love the first film, you know all too well that there’s not much room for a proper sequel, so this one is also set in the middle of the original story. This second outing is tonally unrecognizable: bright, breezy and fat-packed with slapstick and puerile gags. I guess Disney’s market research uncovered considerable overlap between, 1) people who’ll indiscriminately buy one of these DTV retreads because of a familiar title followed by a number, and 2) country music fanatics.
To cash in, ‘The Fox and the Hound II’ revolves around Copper joining a country band and not paying nearly enough attention to his pal Tod. Aside from being dreadful in its own right (the songs aren’t even any good ) re-watch ‘The Fox and the Hound’ and try to figure out where an all-dog country/western group and the seductive thrall of celebrity would fit in. It stomps all over the original film’s core premise of an enduring, impossible friendship.
Thankfully, John Lasseter put an end to the cheapquels when he was handed the reins as Chief Creative Officer at Disney, sparing us the horrors of ‘Pinocchio 2’ and (shudder) ‘The Aristocats 2’.
I can tolerate Pixar’s ‘Cars’. It’s one of the studio’s weaker movies, but my kids have watched it a bunch and it has an appealing sweetness and charm that make it easy enough to sit through.
‘Cars 2‘, on the other hand… what a mess. Everything about this sequel is misguided, especially the shift away from lead character Lightning McQueen to focus primarily on dipshit comic relief sidekick Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy). When used judiciously, a little bit of Mater can be amusing, but ‘Cars 2’ gives us way too much of the grating buffoon. The decision to foist a half-assed spy plot onto the movie is also problematic. The opening scene is really inappropriately violent (cars are murdered on screen!) for the age range of the target audience. And even by the shaky logic that this universe operates on, equipping the cars with wings and jet engines so they can fly around (among other silly gadgets) is flat-out stupid. I can’t fathom what writer/director/Pixar demigod John Lasseter was thinking with this one.
For as many times as my sons have watched ‘Cars’, they still don’t even know about the existence of ‘Cars 2’ yet. I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can.
Tell us in the Comments about some of the animated duds you’ve watched.