The Disney Renaissance: Revisit animation’s peak with these 90s movies
From countless sleeve tattoos to theme-decorated homes, millennials love to show the world how much Disney’s golden age of animation lights up their lives. Well, their Disney golden age. Disney animated movies blew up in the 50s, but reached their renaissance period during millennials’ childhoods in the 1990s.
Before CGI took over and Pixar became Daddy to every Disney animated feature the world was handed, 90s Disney movies reveled in the peak of 2D animation with the classic films of millennials’ childhoods. Nostalgia trigger warning: it’s time to walk down memory lane and revisit all the 90s Disney movies making a generation realize cartoons can be art.
The big three
To millennials across the globe, there were three 90s Disney movies unlike any others: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Beauty and the Beast kicked things off in 1991, giving audiences a sweeping epic from a classic story.
Beauty and the Beast took inspiration from fairy-tale-turned-features like Sleeping Beauty & Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but ditched opening a story book during the intro. The film opened with stained glass imagery as the prologue was narrated, and a whole new type of Disney movie was born.
Aladdin came in 1992 and took Beauty and the Beast’s style and level of production up a notch, packing it with more humor and even better songs. By the time The Lion King came out in 1994, Disney’s animated features had a new standard of production, and arguably the greatest 90s Disney movie (and one of Disney’s GOAT) was blowing audiences away.
A Goofy Movie
Despite the massive success of the big three 90s Disney movies, the company was pumping out successful animated pictures throughout the 90s. Zoomers will recognize A Goofy Movie’s Roxanne from the “Wow Queen, You’re So Beautiful” meme, but millennials recognize her from one of the most underrated 90s Disney movies.
While The Lion King left no dry eye in theaters across the globe upon its release, 1995’s A Goofy Movie reminded audiences to lighten up with a movie that was, well, goofy. Disney continued to show off its animation prowess, and made up for less catchy tunes with more up-front humor. Thanks to memes, A Goofy Movie lives on in our minds rent free.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
When The Nightmare Before Christmas came out between Aladdin & The Lion King in 1993, there weren’t dozens upon dozens of knit hats, socks, costumes, keychains, and all other forms of Target schlock bearing Jack Skellington’s boney face. However, it wouldn’t be long until the film hooked audiences.
While Aladdin & Beauty and the Beast relied on classically sleek 2D animation to draw in viewers, The Nightmare Before Christmas gave audiences a meticulously crafted stop-motion masterwork. Paired with some catchy tunes and an indescribable teen-angst allure, Nightmare proved itself to be one of the most celebrated Disney movies of the 90s.
James and the Giant Peach
Finally, before Disney ran out the 1990s, they took one more stab at a stop-motion animated feature with 1996’s James and the Giant Peach. Rather than pull the story from a fairy tale like Sleeping Beauty, Disney rolled the dice with Roald Dahl’s beloved but modern 1961 book of the same title.
James and the Giant Peach didn’t reach supernova success like The Lion King. In fact, the movie actually lost money at the box office. However, with James and the Giant Peach came an adventurous take on the 90s Disney movie, one that’s grown a cult following since its release.
The film melded live action with stop-motion, and maybe the combo was a little too different for audiences already hooked on the magic of the now-classic Disney movies of the early 90s. Either way, real Disney heads know: James and the Giant Peach is a banger to remember.