Today the likes of Miley Cypuss and Twat Efron have besmirched the good name of Disney. Fortunately, I have a semi-annual nostalgia fest of watching my childhood films to restore hope, love and singing mice into my cynical adult existence. Them thar golden years when Disney was Disney: moving, powerful, moralistic and timeless. It was impossibly hard to whittle my favourites into a Top Ten list but here they are – along with the memorable moments that moved/uplifted/scared the bejesus out of me as a little ‘un (and still do as a 20-year old’un…deary me)
10. JUNGLE BOOK (1967) “I’m gone, Man, solid gone!”
Ah, the military elephants, the Liverpudlian vultures (they got Ringo spot on) and the film responsible for my (very brief) obsession with Bananas. Moi, an obsession with fruit? Call Scotland Yard.
Memorable moment: The epic, rainy fight between Baloo and Shere Khan and the aftermath in which Bagheera rattles off a ‘bee-yu-tiful’ eulogy for Baloo who slowly regains consciousness only to hear every word. Animal ‘bromance’ at it’s finest.
Trivia: I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to voice actors so I love the fact that Baloo is also Thomas O’Malley (#O’Malley the Alley cat#) and Disney legend Sterling Holloway (lending his voice talents to evil snake, Kaa) is also the original Winnie the Pooh, The Cheshire Cat, Roquefort the mouse in Aristocats AND the stork who delivers Dumbo to Mrs Jumbo in…Dumbo. Truly the aural equivalent of Nutella.
Sing-along: ‘Bare Necessities’, ‘We’re Your Friends’, ‘My Own Home’, ‘I Wanna Be Like You’
9. MARY POPPINS (1964) “It’s the master, Step In Time!, It’s the master, Step In Time!”
I don’t understand the fuss concerning Dick Van Dyke’s ‘abysmal’ cockney accent when being three or four years old at the time, Bert was the first cock-er-ney I had ever come across. And that should be the least of your worries when a film is as brilliantly feel-good as Mary Poppins. Who wouldn’t want to draw whatever they please on the pavement and jump into it? Who doesn’t want to ride a fairground horse off the beaten track, clean their room at the click of a finger and be waitered upon by cute cartoon penguins in a colourful utopia of awesomeness? A sad miserable git, that’s who.
Memorable moment: Before people were rofling, Uncle Albert was rolling on the CEILING laughing during the ridiculously grin-worthy song ‘I Love to Laugh’. Incidentally, every time the film ends I can actually feel myself lowering to the ground again.
Sing-along: ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, ‘Jolly Holiday’, ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’, ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’
One-liner: #Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid#
8. SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959) “Pink! Blue! Pink! Blue!“
Another cutesy ‘princess’ film in the Disney catalogue, right? Wrong. This always struck me as incredibly dark for some reason. Okay, Maleficent is an obvious bloody reason but Sleeping Beauty had serious balls in animation terms. I don’t recall Prince Charming fighting a scary-ass green dragon to win Cinderella’s affections. He just sent his Doorman on a nationwide shoe-fitting tour. Even the colour palette in Sleeping Beauty is faintly eerie; the entire kingdom is a gothic mixture of dark green, purple and black. On the upside, the bickering fathers Prince Stefan and Hubert provide comic relief. Disney dad’s are just adorable, aren’t they? (See Maurice in Beauty and the Beast, The King in Cinderella etc)
Memorable moment: Under Maleficent’s spell, Aurora follows a glowing green orb en route to pricking her finger. No, doesn’t sound that affecting does it? But the music accompanying it is chilling. The harpies voices (which I’ve only just realised are singing ‘Aurora’) and the sudden dramatic chord every five seconds *shudder* YouTube it.
Sing-along: ‘Once Upon a Dream’, ‘I Wonder’, ‘Hail to the Princess Aurora’
7. DUMBO (1941) “Technicolour pachyderms is really too much for me”
Aw, who doesn’t love Dumbo? The classic Ugly Duckling reworking with elephants, except, Dumbo is quite easily the cutest creation on a Disney film cell. Now, I’m a cynical bastard. It takes a lot for me to cry but I defy Chuck Norris himself not to shed a tear during that scene. You know the one. Mrs Jumbo is locked up cradling Dumbo in her trunk through the prison bars as he looks on, crying. Heartbreaking. Lump forming in throat…okay, moving on.
Memorable moment: The ‘Pink elephants on Parade’ sequence. Who needs LSD, eh? Clearly not Dumbo, he was only on red wine.
Sing-along: ‘Baby of Mine’ (*sniff*..I’m okay), ‘Pink elephants on Parade’, ‘When I see an elephant fly’
6. THE LION KING (1994) “Are ya aching? (yup yup yup) for some bacon?”
Is it just me or did the bugs Timon and Pumba eat during Hakuna Matata look quite edible? (This is coming from the same girl who thought blades of grass in Bambi looked like apple shavings so don’t worry, it is always just me). Bizarre food cravings aside, The Lion King is a glorious nugget in Disney’s second golden era in the Nineties. Stuffed to the gills with pop-culture references to keep the adults amused and some of the catchiest songs and most lovable characters in the history of celluloid to please the kids. Hell the adults loved that too. This one always will. (I use ‘adult’ in the loosest of terms, you understand).
Memorable moment: What else? When evil, nasty Scar (Boo!) lets Mufasa fall into the stampede of wildebeest (did I mention Boo!). It’s the ultimate childhood fear: losing your parent. (I once lost my Dad in Tesco’s for the best part of an hour but it’s clearly not the same). Would contemporary ‘Disney’ ever have the guts to kill off a major character so early into the film? Fingers crossed for Hannah Montana 5.
Sing-along: ‘I just can’t wait to be King’, Can you feel the love Tonight?’, ‘Hakuna Matata’, ‘Be Prepared’
5. ALADDIN (1992) “Ten thousand years will give you SUCH a CRICK in the NECK!”
Another jewel in the nineties Disney crown, Aladdin found the perfect balance between adult humour and childlike adventure with some ground-breaking animation to boot. The 3-D carpet ride Aladdin and Abu take after touching a forbidden ruby statue could rival anything at Alton Towers for pure white-knuckle exhilaration. Like The Lion King, the comic relief came courtesy of popular comedians of the day (Robin Williams and Gilbert Gottfried stole the show as the Genie and Iago as did Nathan Lane’s Timon and Rowan Atkinson’s Zazu years later).
Memorable moment: My most frightening cinema experience to date (whether I make plans to see ‘Saw 250: uncut’ or not) is when the Cave of Wonders first reared it’s mahoosive CGI head. In surround THX sound, a computer-generated Puma head growling “Who disturbs my slumber?” doesn’t half scar a two-year old.
Sing-along: ‘Friend Like Me’, ‘A Whole New World’, ‘Prince Ali’
4. PINOCCHIO (1940) “I’m a REAL boy!”
Modern parents would have a fit and enforce several lawsuits concerning the themes explored in Pinocchio. Substance abuse, truancy, child abuse, donkey abuse, paedophilia (Watch the ‘Pleasure Island’ scene one more time and tell me that’s not dodgy). Disney himself described the film as ‘a nightmare with a few lighter moments’. However, I’m glad the darker themes are in there otherwise it wouldn’t be the poignant, bittersweet, beautiful film I grew up with so, Walt, I salute you.
Memorable moment: I think this belongs up there with Psycho’s shower scene and The Exorcist head-spin for ‘Oh-no-he-di-int!’ factor. I speak of course about Pinocchio’s ever so graphic lesson in becoming a Jackass. Literally.
Memorable moment #2: When Gepetto and Pinocchio make Monstro the whale sneeze. The noise as he breathes in was horrifying. Put me off Sea World for life.
Sing-along: ‘When you wish upon a Star’, ‘Give a little whistle’, I’ve Got no Strings’
3. TOY STORY (1995) “This isn’t flying, this is falling, with STYLE!”
Twenty years old and female I may be, but I would pay good money for a Buzz Lightyear toy with all the buttons. He’s so cool! I don’t care if his laser is really ‘a little lightbulb that blinks’ (Mrs Nesbitt sunflower hat sold separately). Heck, I want all the characters. The finest trilogy since Lord of the Rings sadly ended this year but on a high and emotionally satisfying note. At the risk of sounding cheesier than the contents of Wallace and Gromit’s cupboard, Woody and the gang will always have a friend in me.
Memorable moment(s): Ah, the burden of choice! The green aliens at Pizza Planet, Buzz’s brief mental breakdown as Mrs Nesbitt or when Woody finally breaks his toy-bound silence to tell Sid those three immortal words: “So. Play. Nice”.
Sing-along: ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’, ‘Strange Things’, ‘I Will Go Sailing No More’.
2. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991) “If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!”
My thoughts exactly, Cogsworth. Why they had to attach a hideously unnecessary sequel to this classic is beyond me. When Belle asked for something more than her provincial life, I don’t think she expected to be imprisoned by an over-grown Tasmanian devil. But the journey en route to falling in love with the Beast is the most beautiful love story ever told. In fact, that was the tagline.
Memorable moment: The entire Ballroom sequence to the film’s titular song (pictured above). Magical, unbelievably romantic and has the power to transform me into a carefree six-year old girl with every viewing.
One-liner: “Lefou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking. (Lefou: A dangerous past-time) I know”
Sing-along: ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Be our Guest’, ‘Gaston’, ‘Something there’
1. THE LITTLE MERMAID (1989) “One day when the boss gets hungry – Guess who gon’ be on de plate?”
If your jaw has now dropped like our good Jamaican friend Sebastian for placing this at number one, you’re either: A) Male, B) Male or C) You never really ‘got it’. Okay, it helps massively to be a girl but The Little Mermaid has always had an inexplicable resonance with me. Other than idolising Baby Spice circa 1996, I wanted more than anything to be Ariel, the flame-haired beauty of the film’s title. I had an Ariel doll and took her everywhere, much like Andy with Woody. I even re-enacted the ‘Part of your World’ splash by creating waves in the bath and looking wistfully towards a bottle of Radox shower gel at the pivotal moment. (Ok, that’s a lie) But the bath-sloshing is sadly true.
My obsession with the film could also be explained by the cassette I had to get me to sleep – a narration of the film with all the music, dialogue and sound effects kept in. (We all had one at some point). I eventually wore mine out to the point that every characters voice on the tape resembled Ursula’s when she booms “Insignificant FOOLS!” in the film’s grand underwater fork-off.
Sing-along: ‘Under the Sea’, Part of your World’, ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’, Kiss the Girl’.
Memorable moment(s): All 85 minutes of it. No? Dammit!
The aforementioned ‘bath splash’.
#What do they got – a lot of sand? We got a hot crustacean band!# It’s not possible to be depressed during this song. It’s just not.
#Le poisson, le poisson hee-hee-hee! haw-haw-haw!# ‘Nuff said, really.
King Triton’s worst nightmare (and mine).
~ Happily Ever After ~
Triton: She really does love him, doesn’t she, Sebastian?
Sebastian: Well, it’s like I always say, Your Majesty. Children got to be free to lead their own lives
Triton: You – always say that? (sighs) Then I guess there’s just one problem left.
Sebastian: And what’s that, Your Majesty?
Triton: How much I’m going to miss her.