Top 10 Underappreciated Childhood Movies

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Top 10 Underappreciated Childhood Movies

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Beca Dalimonte
You need to add these underappreciated classics to your watchlist immediately! For this list, we'll be looking at the best family-friendly movies that are at least a decade old but never got the respect they deserved. Our countdown includes “James and the Giant Peach”, “Treasure Planet”, “Anastasia”, and more!
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Top 10 Underappreciated Childhood Movies


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Underappreciated Childhood movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best family-friendly movies that are at least a decade old but never got the respect they deserved. However, we’re excluding films that were overlooked at the time of release but have since become classics, so you flicks like “The Iron Giant” aren’t being considered.

Do you have a favorite childhood movie that you feel is underrated? Let us know in the comments!

#10: “Meet the Robinsons” (2007)

A neglected entry in the Disney animated canon, “Meet the Robinsons” tells the story of a young orphan who goes on an adventure through time. His companion is a boy who’s later revealed to be his own son. It was the first entirely CG Disney film to feature human characters, Pixar excluded. The studio’s previous venture into this style of animation was the animal-focused “Chicken Little.” In spite of being in relatively new territory, the designs shine in the film’s cartoony retro style. And its message to “keep moving forward” is incredibly inspirational. The humor of the film has held up well over the years as well, so it deserves way more love than it gets.

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

Roald Dahl’s children’s stories have spawned a number of successful films, many of which are quite popular. But a lesser-known – yet noteworthy – adaptation of his work is 1996’s “James and the Giant Peach.” The fantasy film follows the titular orphan, who comes across a community of anthropomorphic creatures in a giant peach. It has an incredibly unique style, with memorable stop-motion animation, instantly recognizable character designs, and evocative colors. Even Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, reportedly approved of the final product, claiming that her late husband would have been “delighted” to see it. That’s pretty high praise, and proves just how wrong everyone has been to sweep this amazing movie under the rug.


#8: “George of the Jungle” (1997)

Two years before Disney released their animated adaptation of “Tarzan,” they gave us “George of the Jungle,” which parodied that very story. The 1997 movie notably deals with the comedy involved in taking a man who’s never lived outside of the jungle into the big city. And it’s a good time from start to finish. Yet it’s often regarded as simply being average. Maybe the people who think that have forgotten how good Brendan Fraser was in the lead role? Jim Henson's Creature Shop also contributed some effects, making it a sort of honorary muppet movie! It’s about time this story gets the second life it deserves with modern audiences.


#7: “The Black Cauldron” (1985)

Given everything that went into getting this 1985 film made, it’s woefully underappreciated. After all, condensing a book series into a film that clocks in at around eighty minutes is no easy feat! And to make matters worse, many sequences were left on the cutting room floor. But “The Black Cauldron” is still a breath of fresh air. Indeed, the fight against the Horned King remains one of the studio’s darker and most mature stories. The voice cast is similarly impressive, boasting John Hurt as the primary villain and John Huston as the narrator. Plus, the hauntingly beautiful animated sequences rival ones from Disney most popular movies, yet they never get the same hype.


#6: “Treasure Planet” (2002)

What if “Treasure Island” took place in space, with a lovable mix of characters? This is the question answered by Disney’s “Treasure Planet,” an animated film which updates the classic pirate story. But if box office numbers are to be believed, nobody really wanted to know the answer. Yet the film’s unique character designs and steampunk aesthetics are worth celebrating. The star-studded voice cast doesn’t hurt either, with big names like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, and Martin Short featured in prominent roles. It’s a shame the movie failed to make waves, because a planned sequel was reportedly scrapped as a result. We wish we could have seen more of this world!


#5: “A Little Princess” (1995)

Taking place during the first World War, “A Little Princess” tells a decidedly dark story. It’s centered on the young Sara Crewe, who’s mistreated and forced to work when her father is mistakenly pronounced dead. Throughout the story, she asserts that every girl is a princess - a belief that seemingly gives the film its title. There’s always been a disconnect between the movie’s quality and the attention it receives from the public. This was true upon its release, when subpar box office numbers clashed with two Oscar nominations. And unfortunately, “A Little Princess” has also largely been forgotten more recently, though we’d say it should be required viewing for years to come.


#4: “Monster House” (2006)

You may not be familiar with this film, but trust us when we say it’ll be the perfect addition to your future Halloween movie binge! “Monster House” is a horror movie for kids (or easily spooked adults). If you're thinking the animation style looks familiar, it’s probably because you recognize the distinct motion capture technology seen in “The Polar Express.” The 2006 movie puts an original spin on the haunted house story, featuring an abode that’s literally alive. “Monster House” has waned in popularity, especially compared to films like “Coraline” and “ParaNorman.” But it still works as a great, spooky horror movie that’s fun for the whole family.


#3: “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001)

When you talk to most people about Disney, they tend to think of Renaissance films, such as “The Little Mermaid.” Or maybe they’re fans of more recent hits like “Encanto.” Rarely do people stop and consider the works that fall somewhere in between, and “Atlantis: the Lost Empire” is consistently overlooked. “Atlantis” isn’t without its issues. For instance, the white protagonist teaches a native Atlantean to read her own language. Still, there’s no denying that it’s one of Disney’s most beautifully rendered films to date. The level of digital production used was groundbreaking for the studio. The cast is also supremely talented, and the adventure-filled story is sure to fill anyone with wanderlust.


#2: “Anastasia” (1997)

Have you heard? There’s an animated film centered on “a rumor in St. Petersburg.” Directed by Don Bluth, “Anastasia” is a fictional story based on an urban legend surrounding the real life Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. In it, “Anya,” who has lost her memory, is scammed by two men who realize she looks like the lost Grand Duchess. Naturally, that’s because she is her. The catchy songs, compelling characters, and amazing animation are something to behold. And that’s saying nothing of the plot, which tugs at every heartstring we have. The film has never been as popular as the Disney releases of the same era, but it more than holds its own.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Flushed Away” (2006)
Posh Mouse Roddy Gets Sent Into an Unforgettable Adventure

“Pee-wee's Big Adventure” (1985)
Who Knew a Missing Bike Could Be So Thrilling?

“Surf’s Up” (2007)
Cody the Penguin Hopes to Become a Professional Surfer

“Ella Enchanted” (2004)
Ella Quickly Learns That What You’re Told to Do Isn’t Always What’s Right

“The Secret of NIMH” (1982)
Single Mouse Mother Mrs. Brisby Goes to Great Lengths to Protect Her Family


#1: “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)

Before “Shrek” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” DreamWorks made “The Prince of Egypt,” an oft-overlooked animated musical take on “The Book of Exodus.” The film portrays the story of Moses, who eventually frees the Jewish people from slavery. It’s surprisingly mature for a children’s film, yet easily engaging even for viewers unfamiliar with various religious teachings. The visuals are also striking, and the soundtrack, which was composed by Hans Zimmer with songs by Stephen Schwartz, is nothing short of moving. Maybe the world just wasn’t ready for this masterpiece in 1998. But if any film deserves to be elevated to cult classic status now, it’s this one.
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