Mary Poppins (1964)

It’s too long (the painting escapade needed a trim) but overall a delight both humourous and heartwarming (see the kite-flying), with the practically perfect in every way Mary Poppins at the forefront: her mix of cheeky seriousness (see her back-and-forths with the uppity Mr. Banks) and serious cheekyness (“I never explain anything”), of mirthful magic and feigned matter-of-fact-ness (“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about”), with tender heart and voice is singular and fantastic.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

It’s got its bad archaic bits (a 16-year old getting non-consensually kissed by and married to a guy who looks like he’s 30, for one) and some sleepy ones too (the entire sequence in the forest) but the fairies’ surprisingly strong role in the action climax as well as their comedic chemistry (shout out to the drunk bard too) help counter them. The excellent villain and underlying thread of dramatic irony in the dual identities of the “stranger” and the “peasant girl” are nice additions as well.

Aladdin (1992)

The romance plot is a little off (Jasmine obviously liked him as a pauper, so why was he such a haughty prince–especially after she showed her distaste? Well, a magic carpet ride will solve everything), but the two are sympathetic at least (see Aladdin’s fun opening song and Jasmine’s “well maybe I don’t want to be a princess!”). Elsewhere, the excellent villain, the hilarious Genie, and intriguing magical underpinnings help create a twisty, exciting adventure punctuated by great humour.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Like its titular bear, it’s full of fluff and charm, from the fun characters (absent-minded and chatty Owl is a–wait for it–hoot) to the endearing animation and storytelling that often mix together in creative ways (see the 4th-wall breaking narrator and page references). The miniature tales are cute and funny and of little substance. That said, the touching final chapter, taken in the context of the film’s intentional framing of the stories as fictional, offers something interesting to ponder.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)


Two childhood friends find themselves forced to become enemies. (IMDb)
The “friends forced to be enemies” premise would have resonated more if the film had dwelt more on the fox and the hound being both. As it is, it’s mostly forgettable fluff with a few good action sequences and hardly any humour, and with its unmemorable–unusually so by Disney standards–secondary characters and songs there’s not much to distract from it. Only the ever-so-slight side-plot with the odd-couple birds and the caterpillar ever really catches your fancy after all is said and done.
6/10 (Mediocre)

The Sword in the Stone (1963)


A poor boy named Arthur learns the power of love, kindness, knowledge and bravery with the help of a wizard called Merlin in the path to become one of the most beloved kings in England history. (IMDb)
The book-ending bits after which the film is named end up feeling like unnecessary additions to its central story-a charmingly aimless little tale of a bumbling old wizard taking a gangly young boy under his wing and teaching him life lessons (see his line about love and gravity) through experiencing the lives of three different animals. Full of fun slapstick (see the recurring wolf gag) and whimsical animation (literally–see the live dishes), with one particularly enjoyable wizard’s duel.
7/10 (Good)

The AristoCats (1970)


With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country. (IMDb)
A lazily written adventure plot here is boosted by its three-fold setting (an elegant mansion, the rustic countryside, and a ramshackle city house) and bevy of charming characters, from piano-playing kittens to simpleton farm dogs to a gaggle of giggling geese. Throw in a devious butler, a heroic tomcat, and a rag-tag group of jazzy alley-cats and you have the ingredients for some hysterical slapstick, exciting escapades, and one particularly catchy tune (“Everybody wants to be a cat!”).
7/10 (Good)

Dumbo (1941)

Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential. (IMDb)
The story here is a touching underdog/family vignette (Dumbo and Timothy are a great pair, and the wordless bond between Dumbo and his mother is heart-melting) but the hallucination scene, while hilarious, feels unnecessary, especially when considering how Dumbo’s rise to redemption after such prolonged suffering breezes by in only a single scene. A slightly reconfigured screenplay is all that’s left to be desired in this moving classic chock full of the standard exceptional Disney animation.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Cinderella (1950)

When Cinderella’s cruel stepmother prevents her from attending the Royal Ball, she gets some unexpected help from the lovable mice Gus and Jaq, and from her Fairy Godmother. (IMDb)
The fun and cozy animation and the memorable secondary characters (those adorable mice!) are two definite standouts here, while the fairy tale at hand is refreshingly non-romantic: Cinderella and the prince actually develop hardly any relationship at all, and the mice’s exploits in helping “Cinderelly” before and after the ball make up the bulk of the story. Although it does fall back to a typical lover’s happy ending, the film’s endearingly unique underdog plot line throughout overshadows it.
7/10 (Good)

Bambi (1942)

The story of a young deer growing up in the forest after his mother is shot by hunters. (IMDb)
A beautiful looking movie with adorable animation, refreshingly sparse but ever-so-cute dialogue, and a few hauntingly dark sequences thrown in that offer a startling and affecting contrast to the innocence that pervades the rest of the story. Putting the aforementioned scenes aside, the film isn’t exactly edge-of-your-seat drama, action, or comedy, but it is charming in its simplicity and remarkable in how it pulls you in and melts the heart despite a lack of the aforementioned elements.
7/10 (Good)