Lesser-Known Disney Movies I Love...

I'm fairly certain by now that you all know that I am a bit of a Disney fanatic. And while most people are familiar with the universally popular Disney films like all the princess movies (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, etc.), classics like Aladdin and The Lion King, and of course the extremely popular Pixar collaborations (Monster's Inc, the Toy Story series, A Bug's Life), there are quite a few Disney movies that may not be the first that come to mind, but are still really great. And because I am an educator, I feel like it is my duty to impart my knowledge of these cinematic jewels to you, my dear reader. (Or I just like talking about Disney movies because I'm a child.)

1. Hercules- Hey, who doesn't want a fictional account of Greek mythology delivered by a Supremes-like group of "muses"? I actually didn't watch this one until high school (or maybe even college?) and I love it! "Zero to Hero" is one of my favorites from the soundtrack and of course "Go the Distance" is a pretty well-known "inspirational anthem" now. And my four-year-old niece knows every word of "I Won't Say I'm in Love" so that makes the movie worth watching right there. (Favorite scene: the singing muses, obviously.)

2. The Great Mouse Detective- I just read an article the other day about movies that never really "caught on" and this one was on that list. I don't know why- I love this movie. It's like Sherlock Holmes, but with mice. (Doesn't that spell "box office smash" to you?) In retrospect, the bad guy-er, rat- Ratigan is pretty terrifying but it's still a good little movie. (Favorite scene: Basil and Dr. Dawson escaping the trap at the end. Oops... spoiler alert!)

3. Bedknobs and Broomsticks- Long before she was the voice of Mrs. Potts and sang that now-famous hit "Beauty and the Beast," Angela Lansbury was an eccentric spinster taking in a trio of orphans during World War II England. As "Miss Price," an aspring witch, she goes on a search for the rest of her correspondence course for witches and meets the surprisingly unextraordinary man behind her book of spells. The rest is a little too complicated to explain but it includes some animated animals playing soccer, enchanted armor fighting a German platoon, and some delightful songs from the Sherman brothers. And David Tomlinson, Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins, is always a favorite of mine. (Favorite scene: the street market on Portabello Road)

4. The Emperor's New Groove- I know a lot of people have seen this one, but I'm including it just in case someone hasn't because if you haven't seen it, you must. Hands down one of my favorite Disney movies because it's just so funny. David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, and maybe the funniest performance of Patrick Warburton's as Kronk. A spoiled young king is turned into a llama and has to be humbled quite a bit before he is restored to the throne. I won't even include one quote because, well, I can't pick a favorite. (Favorite scene: Yzma picking Kuzco's poison.)

5. The Kid- I vividly remember my dad bringing this movie home for the first time... our family immediately had a new favorite and we quote it to this day. Bruce Willis is a grumpy, selfish, high-powered image consultant (known as a jerk to pretty much everyone), Lily Tomlin is his wise-cracking secretary, Emily Mortimer is his sweet but honest assistant, and Spencer Breslin (in his first role!) shows up as his 8-year-old self to let him know that he needs to make some big life changes or else he'll "GROW UP TO BE A LOSER!" This is a great movie... please find it and watch it. And hey, Bruce Willis had hair! (Favorite scene: Bruce Willis on the plane with the lady on her way to a job as a news anchor.)

6. The Happiest Millionaire- I can't believe my family had never heard of this one until a few years ago, but it's another Sherman Brothers score with Fred Macmurray as the sort of crazy head of the sort of crazy Biddle family. It's one of those movies that doesn't really have a central plot, other than the daughter, Cordelia, "growing up" by going away to school and leaving her tomboy roots behind completely and falling in love. I looooove the songs in this movie and it really does have a superstar cast (Greer Garson, Tommy Steele, Geraldine Page) and it features the major acting debut of both Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson, whose voice, by the way, is pure magic. Oh, and if you enjoy this, you should check out The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (the movie is only slightly longer than the title) because John Davidson and Lesley Ann Warren play another couple and sing Sherman brothers songs. (Favorite scene: the dancing scene at the party. I listen to that song all the time.)

7. Homeward Bound- I'm usually not a big fan of real-life movies with talking animals, but this one I love. Shadow, Sassy, and Chance are "abandoned" (so they think) when their family leaves on a long road trip, so they take off behind them on foot, crossing the Sierras, rivers, and busy streets of California to make it home to them. Along the way the meet with all kinds of danger but, of course, make it home to Peter, Hope and Jamie in the most tear-jerking last five minutes of a movie ever (well, if the ending includes a golden retriever, a Himalayan cat, and a bulldog pup.) This is a good one... funny and (I cringe while I type) heartwarming. It really is. (Favorite scene: the end and also the one where Sassy is reunited with Chance and Shadow. "My boys! My boys!")

8. Newsies- If there was ever a buried gem in the Disney vault, it's this. I was in high school when I discovered this and- you know my flair for the melodramatic- my life was changed forever. With a score by Alan Menken and directing/choreography by Kenny Ortega, and featuring a 17-year-old Christian Bale (I know!!!), this is one of my favorite musicals of all time, and that's saying a lot. It's also saying a lot to tell you that my husband absolutely loves this movie... he who is not a fan of musicals or dancing or most of the frivolous things I enjoy. So, yeah... it's the story of the newsboys of New York City during the days of the circulation wars between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hurst. Oh, my. I just love it so much. And now that it's on Broadway you better believe that I'll be seeing that show as soon as possible. (Favorite scene: probably Seize the Day, but Santa Fe is really wonderful too. These are all on youtube for your convenience, by the way. =)

9. Aladdin and the King of Thieves- I am definitely not a fan of all sequels (in fact, I should write a post about why most of them are disastrous) and while I enjoy Return of Jafar (the first sequel to Aladdin), this third movie in the trilogy is definitely the better of the sequels. I think it's mostly because Robin Williams, who had been replaced as Genie for Return of Jafar because of some kind of dispute with Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg or something... neither here nor there... returned for the third movie and thank goodness because he makes the film. And while the songs are some of the cheesiest ever- "Out of Thin Air," for example- I love it anyway. (Favorite scene: Genie consoling Jasmine after her wedding is ruined. Robin Williams improvised pretty much the entire scene.)

So, if you are like me and avoid any type of work during the summer  need a few movie ideas for yourself, or, your children, I suppose, check out these little gems. Other suggestions include, but are not limited to, The Big Green, Cool Runnings, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (for you, Andrea!), The Rescuers, Swiss Family Robinson, The Apple Dumpling Gang (and Rides Again, Brook's favorite), Summer Magic, Follow Me, Boys!, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, Pollyanna... okay, you see how long I could go on. 

Check these out! I love them and you will too. (But if you don't, please don't tell me. I want to love you, I really do.)


P.S. I wish I could say that this post was sponsored by Disney but alas... it is not. So if some Disney big-shot happens upon my blog and recognizes a true fan when he sees one, I would happily take compensation in the form of tickets to Magic Kingdom or simply a Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bar. I am quite easy to please.


  1. The Emperor's New Groove is my favorite movie, hands down. I can and do quote it all the live long day. LLAMA FACE!

  2. Gonna have to add these to my summer list!!

  3. We LOVE Great Mouse Detective, Emperor's New Groove and Hercules!! I love the whole Sherlock theme of Great Mouse Detective and the humor in Emperor and Hercules are the best. (Llama face!!) It's so funny these aren't the big sellers because those have always been my favorites! Bad marketing?? haha I passed them down to my kids and they love them too!

    High Heels and Training Wheels


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