Last week, the guys debated which Disney film reigned supreme, and this week they continue the debate in print for your reading enjoyment.
Chris: So now that this week's No Right Explanation's title has got you in a fervor, let me start explaining myself. First off, I don't believe either of those things, but if Sterling has taught us anything, it's how to make a title for stuff on the Internet.
On a fundamental level though, the "Best Disney Movie Ever" debate is a literal impossibility when it comes to taste. No one taste can and will be right, purely because each new generation of Disney movies are entirely a product of that era. Looking at Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, we decided we'd pick an obvious fan favorite along with an obvious critical favorite.
And yet, even though we're over a year into this silly web series and our fans are cooler and cooler every week, we got a glut of "you forgot X choice that is my favorite and therefore the best!" I started facepalming every time someone mentioned The Lion King in a comment and how we either snubbed it, forgot it, or uncharacteristically hated it for no good reason, but by the first hour I was beginning to give myself a concussion, so I stopped.
Those watching, we had ten Disney animated movies on the shelf behind us. All of which are great. All of which we like. Only two of which we picked for this debate. The Lion King is a phenomenal movie, the ramshackle "It's Hamlet!" cries be damned (you realize Hamlet is at best casually referenced in The Lion King and at worst entirely different, right?). It's easily in the top 5 Disney movies, and a strong case can be made that it's the best of all time. But it's not a definitive first though, since Disney movies are a product of their era.
To me, Aladdin was one of those Disney movies that had the biggest impact from then forward, entirely owing to the Genie being such a powerhouse of a character. The downside is that from then on, there always had to be a Genie somewhere, by which I mean a very obvious comic relief character. The Lion King had Timon and Pumba (awesome), Mulan had Mushu (less awesome but still fun), The Emperor's New Groove had ... actually that movie is damned hysterical, so no complaints here. My point is that the shift in tone from more obviously serious subject matter to more obviously light-hearted comedy was apparent by the time Aladdin's credits started rolling.
So let's go through and say why I didn't pick some of the other movies you love so much:
The Lion King: The Hamlet analogy doesn't instantly make it a winner.
The Little Mermaid: Very cute, but very dumb when you look closer.
Mulan: Amazing movie, but it just didn't hit as hard as Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast.
Hercules: It doesn't hold up well at all (James Woods holds up great, though).
Lilo and Stitch: They painted Stitch over Mickey on the Disney water tower before the movie was out. I don't like cocky and I've never seen the movie because of it.
The Emperor's New Groove: One of the funniest, by far, but it felt more like a spoof on the Disney formula than an actual Disney movie. Essentially, it was the Genie taken to an extreme.
Pocahontas: Hahaha, no one liked this movie.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: If I didn't want to get completely eviscerated by the comments, I would have picked this as Disney's best, hands down. It's what a more mature Disney movie looks like, and Hellfire is still easily the best villain Disney villain song. Plus, Quazimodo doesn't get the girl. Ballsy.
Again, this is all subjective. There's no denying, despite how you may feel about Disney now, it's responsible for some of the greatest movies of all time. There are easily more than a dozen films that could have been in our episode and made sense, and for the record, no one mentioned a movie that I actively dislike even a little (maybe Fantasia because my attention span is shot).
I'll leave with a small taste of my favorite Disney movies by the way. Here they are, my top 5:
5. Robin Hood
4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
3. The Lion King
1. The Jungle Book
P.S. If you see me at the Escapist Expo and request show tunes from The Jungle Book, yes, you will get them.