This list was a little tougher to compile than I expected. While there are certainly enough bad Disney movies to fill the list, narrowing it down to the five worst was truly difficult. Unlike my 5 Best lists, which were in chronological order, this list is counting down to the most terrible of Disney’s worst animated movies.
5. Oliver & Company / The Aristocats (tied)
These two movies suffer from similar problems: tedious, boring plot, vapid characters, unfunny attempts at humor, and ho-hum music. I’m not sure which movie is the worst offender – probably Aristocats because it recycles animation shamelessly, many of the vocal performances feel phoned in by a largely Disney veteran cast, and the attempt to bring jazz to 1910 Paris just doesn’t work. But Oliver & Company is so obviously in love with its 1980s world that it feels trapped there, and the attempt to impose a very British Dickens plot to New York City doesn’t really succeed. Today, it feels quite dated. Both movies really showcase why Disney’s “animal pictures” from the 1970s and 80s gave the studio such a poor reputation.
4. Home on the Range
This movie hurts to watch. Poor character design made it extremely difficult to enjoy watching Home on the Range - let’s face it, cows are food and it is difficult to humanize them because they will inevitably make meat-loving Americans think about lunch. Throw in some celebrity voices instead of using voice actors and this becomes a movie that sounds as unpleasant as it looks. Beautiful background design and surprisingly delightful villain (everything Governor Ratcliffe wanted and failed to be) can’t save this pile of cow manure.
3. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
This was just bad. Once again, a skinny white nerd proves to be the salvation of an entire civilization of noble savages. There were so many story problems plaguing Atlantis that I won’t go into them here; just read the review and you’ll see exactly why this movie made the list.
2. Make Mine Music
I have a strong loathing for all of the Disney package films of the 1940s. None of them are very good, but most of them at least have one or two really strong segments that justify the film’s existence. Make Mine Music does not. Sure, “Casey at the Bat” and “The Whale That Wanted to Sing at the Met” have a few entertaining moments, but these are at the level of a Saturday morning cartoon, and not at all comparable to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or even Bambi. If you’re a fan of artists like Dinah Shore or the Andrews Sisters, this may be somewhat redeemable, but I find their voices painful and the songs insipid. I wish that Disney would throw this film back in the vault and never pull it out again!
1. Chicken Little
I may have struggled to decide what the other movies on this list would be, but I always knew that Chicken Little would be #1. It’s that awful. The characters are ugly and poorly designed, the plot is stupid, and the voice acting is atrocious. The jokes were dated before the movie hit theaters, and was an obvious, pathetic attempt to mimic the success of Shrek and Ice Age. Disney should be ashamed of themselves for making this atrocious movie.