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Top 10 Films That Brilliantly Mixed Live Action and Animation

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Nick Spake Animation has come a long way over the years and has changed the way that we view movies, but these films took brilliant turns by mixing live action footage from shooting with animation to create these incredible films. WatchMojo presents the top 10 films that utilized both live action camera work and animation. But what film will take the top spot on our list, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, or Mary Poppins? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to jkellis for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Films+Mixed+with+Live+Action+and+Animation

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They’re the movies that bring together the best of both worlds. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies that mixed with live-action and animation.

For this list, we’re taking a look at movies that feature a captivating fusion of real life performers and animated characters.

#10: “James and the Giant Peach” (1996)

Sharing Roald Dahl’s same offbeat whimsy and dark humor, Henry Selick of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” fame was born to bring “James and the Giant Peach” to the big screen. The film starts off in live-action, which might throw some audiences for a loop at first. The story then shifts to Selick’s trademark stop-motion puppetry as James enters a giant peach and meets a colony of colorful insects. What ensues is a dreamlike adventure in which James’ wildest fantasies, deepest fears and reality collide, producing a new fairytale for the ages.

#9: “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” (2004)

In the world of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” everything below sea level is a wacky cartoon and everything above is even wackier live-action. These worlds come together in SpongeBob’s first feature as the titular sea sponge and his best bud Patrick journey to Shell City. The film cleverly reveals in its third act that Shell City’s actually a gift shop run by a giant Cyclops, who’s really just a diver. The funniest twist involves how they return to Bikini Bottom courtesy of David Hasselhoff, who speeds like a motorboat and fires off his pecks like a literal gun show. Now that’s an eyeful.

#8: “Osmosis Jones” (2001)

This flick is like the most expensive health class video about the human anatomy ever made, but a lot more clever and creative than you’d expect. Bill Murray stars in the live-action scenes as Frank, who foolishly consumes a diseased hardboiled egg. We then take a fantastic voyage inside Frank’s body, which is full of vibrant animated characters like a wisecracking white blood cell named Osmosis Jones, with the voice and quirks of Chris Rock. Partnering up with a cold pill named Drix, Ozzy sets out to bust a fatal virus and save his world within a world.

#7: “Space Jam” (1996)

To this day, people still argue whether “Space Jam” is one of the ‘90s’ definitive kids’ movies or one of the decade’s most shameless sellouts. Love it or hate it, “Space Jam” will always be remembered for bringing together two of our most beloved icons: Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan. It’s an odd pairing in a picture full of odd scenarios, most notably a basketball game against space aliens. The fact that people are still rooting for a sequel with LeBron James, though, demonstrates that it undoubtedly struck a cord with millions.

#6: “Pete’s Dragon” (1977)

“Pete’s Dragon” doesn’t get as much attention as some of Disney’s other live-action/animation mishmashes. Even if you’ve never seen the film, though, chances are you at least recognize the jolly, green dragon, Elliot. Whether invisible or in plain sight, the doglike dragon lends himself to plenty of inventive setups and effects.

#5: “Enchanted” (2007)

“Enchanted” embraces Disney’s tradition of classic fairytales, but with a refreshing, self-aware edge. The film opens in a delightfully hand-drawn sequence where the delicate Giselle and gallant Prince Edward instantly fall in love. Giselle gets a dosage of reality, however, once she’s transported to the live-action realm of New York. With pitch perfect mannerisms and timing, Amy Adams makes you truly believe she’s an animated princess brought to life. She further brings great empathy to a lovable character in a genuinely heartfelt romance that becomes much more than a satire.

#4: “The LEGO Movie” (2014)

Legos are the building blocks of imagination, amounting to numerous wonderful worlds and characters in this inspired feature film. As smart as it is silly, “The Lego Movie” reaches a new frontier of depth in the final act where it’s revealed there’s a larger world beyond the table. A conflict between a father and son parallel the events occurring in Bricksburg and the surrounding realms. The resolution they come to is not only touching, but also encompasses a unique lesson for both children and adults alike. And a yellow minifig just made you cry.

#3: “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971)

“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” only has one animated sequence, but it’s by far the film’s most iconic segment. Pursuing the Star of Astaroth, our heroes arrive on the animated Isle of Naboombu. They engage in a whimsical musical number under the sea and an energetic soccer game on land. While the animation is of course stellar, what’s really remarkable is how committed Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson are to their performances. We believe King Leonidas is there because they believe he’s there, making the experience even more magical.

#2: “Mary Poppins” (1964)
With topnotch effects for the time, “Mary Poppins” made audiences believe a woman could fly with an umbrella and laughter could make you float up to the ceiling. Since dancing penguins and racing carousel horses are harder to pull off in live-action, however, the film takes us into a stunning chalk drawing world where anything is possible. Although P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, was fervently against the use of any animation, we’re eternally grateful that Walt got his way. Otherwise, the film would have been deprived of its most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious moments.

Before we get mixed up with our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Looney Tunes: Back in Action” (2003)

“Cool World” (1992)

“Alice” (1988)

#1: “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988)

This wasn’t the first film to mix live-action and animation, but its flawless union set a new standard for all the hybrids that followed. “Roger Rabbit” accomplishes this through utterly convincing effects, performances, and animation by Richard Williams, immersing us in a wonderland that feels all too believable. While Bob Hoskins’ interactions with Roger Rabbit are astounding, what’s even more jaw dropping is seeing Donald and Daffy Duck together at last. It’s the ultimate movie for anybody who loves animation, reminding us how real toons truly are, and kicking off the Disney Renaissance in earnest.

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