Each year when lists of the highest grossing films are released there is one thing that is bound to be true: there's at least one family-friendly film that has made the cut. Of course, when it comes to entertainment that is aimed at the whole family, there is one company that typically has been the crème de la crème, Disney.
Even though Disney has released one beloved animated movie after another, they certainly aren’t perfect and some of the films have flaws when you really think about it. Despite that, the majority of their animated movies have gone on to be immensely popular over the years. With that in mind, it is time for us to look at this list of 20 problems with Disney animated movies we all choose to ignore.
In order for a problem with a movie to be considered for this list, it first and foremost needs to relate to a movie that was released by Walt Disney Animation Studios. As a result, you won’t find any entries on this list that have to do with movies released by Pixar or any of the other companies that are owned by Disney. Additionally, we won’t be looking at any issues with movies that were made for TV or skipped the typical theatrical release.
20 Is Judy Hopps From Zootopia Really Treated The Way She Is Because She's a Bunny?
One of the most recent Disney animated movies, Zootopia does an excellent job of entertaining kids while featuring a message of inclusion. Focused on animals who are judged based solely on their species, the movie’s main character, Judy Hopps, is underestimated because she is a bunny. However, the movie clearly tries to make it seem like once she becomes a cop, the assignments she is given are as a result of her species alone.
While there is little doubt that her chief thinks a bunny can’t be a cop, there is another perfectly fine reason why she is forced to hand out parking tickets: she is a rookie. After all, most bosses give their newest employees the simplest and least desired jobs and reward their veteran workers with the best gigs.
19 Pocahontas Ignores Real-Life Drama
Back in 1995 when Pocahontas was released, the movie received a great deal of praise from most people. Deserved in a lot of ways, the movie certainly has a lot of strengths including its gorgeous animation, beautiful music, and protagonist. The problem is that the film is based on a real person who had an all too brief life in which she was married off to a foreigner as a teenager and then trotted around the world as a “noble savage.”
On top of that, her family and friends were mistreated which led to sickness that would take their lives. Of course, we understand that you couldn’t include things like that in a family film but then why not focus on a fictional native character instead of whitewashing someone’s history?
18 Snow White Has Very Little Agency Over Her Own Life
The movie that started it all, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made such a huge impact when it came out that it was awarded a unique honorary Oscar that had the usual statue accompanied by seven little ones.
Focused on the titular main character and her seven friends, when you actually reflect on the film, Snow White had next to no control over her own life. After all, she survives a hunter only because he takes pity on her, she finds a home because she is accepted by the dwarfs, and she doesn’t seem to think twice when a stranger gives her an apple to eat. On top of that, in the end she is saved from a curse because a man kisses her while she is asleep.
17 In Frozen, A Complete Stranger Is Left In Charge
One of the most celebrated Disney animated films, Frozen definitely deserves a lot of praise but that isn’t to say the movie is perfect. For example, our biggest issue with the film is the fact that Hans is put in charge of Arendelle when Anna leaves to find her sister, Elsa. Sure, we get that Anna has been so sheltered that she immediately trusts a stranger she is smitten with so much so that she puts her people’s fate in his hands.
That said, we can’t accept the idea that Arendelle lacked any other leaders who would have stepped in, especially since Anna and Elsa had been so absent in their royal roles. We also are puzzled by the whole thing about Kristoff being raised by rock trolls, but that is a whole other issue.
16 It Makes No Sense When The Fates From Hercules Are Surprised He Becomes a God
Based on the pantheon of Roman gods, Disney’s Hercules tells a story that many people were aware of long before they saw the film for the first time. Mostly focused on the most famous Roman mythological beings, including the titular characters, Hades, Zeus, Hera, and several others, the movie also features The Fates.
Portrayed as three unique-looking women who share a single eye and have the ability to foresee the future, the Fates have an important role in the film. Yet, they somehow are surprised when Hercules becomes a god. If they couldn’t foresee a moment that grandiose or at the very least realize it was possible then what good were they?
15 Prince Eric And Ariel’s Relationship Is Based On Nothing
Throughout its history, Walt Disney Animation Studios has produced one film after another about two people who meet each other and almost instantly fall in love. Some early examples of this include the likes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. However, you would have thought that by the time The Little Mermaid came out in 1989 the studio would have realized that their love stories should include the couples actually getting to know one another.
Instead, they opted to make Ariel’s relationship with Prince Eric entirely surface level as she was incapable of even speaking to him. Clearly, his attraction was mostly based on looks.
14 How The Beast Treats Belle Early On
The story of a young woman who sees the inner soul of a fearsome creature, Beauty and the Beast is considered to be a great love story by the majority of its audience. That said, it is pretty difficult to look past how mean The Beast truly is to Belle throughout the majority of the film.
Perfectly willing to keep a young woman for no good reason, once Belle is inside the Beast’s castle he shows her nothing but anger. Sure, over time he is a lot more tender with her and he saves Belle from a pack of wolves, but forgetting how mean The Beast was up until then seems wrong to us.
13 Dumbo’s Animation Looks Pretty Cheap
Released at a time in which the world was embroiled in World War II, to say that people were looking for ways to release tension when they first saw Dumbo is a pretty huge understatement. As a result, it makes perfect sense that Disney moved forward with producing and releasing the film in 1941, but the fact remains that much of America’s economy was wrapped up in the war effort at that time. That is why the company couldn’t reasonably invest the same amount of money into Dumbo that it did for the films they preceded or followed it.
Produced for only $812,000 in order to keep the budget low, the company skimped everywhere they could, including on things like its character design and even more notably on background animation.
12 How Did Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa Catch Up With Simba?
Not afraid to broach dark subjects, The Lion King shows Simba leaving everyone and everything he’d ever known because of his uncle’s machinations. Eventually convinced to return home in order to take on Scar, once Simba learns what has been happening in the pride lands he seems to run non-stop until he can come to the aid of his loved ones. All of that is wonderful from a storytelling point of view, but it leads to a moment that makes no sense at all.
Even though Nala travels with Simba’s much slower friends, Timon and Pumbaa, and they have the same distance to travel, the trio arrives in the pride lands mere moments after Simba.
11 The Disappointing Direct-To-Video Sequels
If you pay any attention at all to the movie business then you will likely know that reboots, prequels, and sequels have become huge deals. If you ask us, that makes perfect sense given that people have likely already emotionally connected to the original film and this makes them want to know what happens to the characters in future.
Evidently aware that sequels are a cash cow, during the '90s and early 2000s Disney released many direct-to-video sequels of their beloved animated movies. Unfortunately, they obviously decided to put minimal effort into these films and most of them were so poorly made that they actually tarnished the original film a little bit.
10 Princesses Who Are Saved Because A Prince Kisses Them While They're Asleep
As we touched on earlier in this list, 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ends with the titular character coming back to life after being kissed in her sleep. Cursed after she eats an apple that was given to her by a stranger, she could only be woken up by “love’s first kiss” so it is portrayed as lucky that a smitten prince plants one on her. Of course, it is really creepy that he kisses a sleeping lady but at least he knows that is the only way to break the curse.
Still, it was weird that a Disney animated movie ended in that way. If that wasn’t bad enough, Disney went back to the prince kissing a sleeping lady in the release of 1959’s Sleeping Beauty!
9 All Of The Product Placement In Ralph Breaks The Internet
Overall a pretty great film, we enjoyed almost every part of Wreck-It Ralph but there was one element that was a real delight to see: the movie’s various video game cameos. After all, how fun was it to see Kano, Bowser, Doctor Eggman, Bison, Zangief, and several other villains all share a movie scene?
Unfortunately, when Ralph Breaks the Internet came out, producers seemed to think it was an excuse to shove product placement into every scene. Don’t get us wrong, it was fun to see all the Disney Princesses together and cameos from Groot, Stan Lee, Stormtroopers, and Beaker all in the same film. However, seeing logos for an endless list of major companies in the background at every turn became incredibly tiresome.
8 Why Doesn’t The Ocean Return Te Fiti’s Heart In Moana?
Even though we count ourselves as big fans of the film, we admit that Moana’s main storyline has a pretty obvious issue. Focused on a young woman who is chosen by the ocean to travel across it and return a stone heart to its rightful place, Moana makes her way around the water that surrounds her. Clearly interested in sending the heart home itself, since the ocean is shown thrusting people and objects around at will, that begs an obvious question: Why didn’t the water send the artifact home itself?
This is especially the case since it possessed the stone heart for years before it gave the object to someone. Failing that, couldn’t the ocean transport Moana to where she needed to go a lot faster?
7 The Sheer Quantity Of Racial Stereotypes
If you ask us, the biggest problem with Walt Disney Animation Studios for far too long was the sheer quantity of movies they were putting out that included racial stereotypes. In fact, the only reason why this isn’t the top entry on our list is that most people seem to be very aware of how problematic these depictions have been. After all, things like the stereotypical natives in Peter Pan and the crows in Dumbo are pretty hard to deny.
However, even though most people acknowledge how downright wrong those depictions were, those movies and several other Disney cartoons with similar elements are still considered classics. For that to be the case, people have to be looking past those massive errors to some degree.
6 The Only Black Disney Princess In History Spends Most of Her Film As A Frog
Ever since Disney released their first full-length animated movie all the way back in 1937, the studio has continued to create many family-friendly movies for the world to love. Over the years, movies like The Jungle Book, Aladdin, Mulan, and Pocahontas all focused on people of color but it wasn’t until 2009’s The Princess and the Frog that we got the first black Disney Princess.
A pretty wonderful movie that was nominated for a long list of major awards, the film certainly had a unique style that we greatly appreciated. However, it is remarkable (and quite unfair) that the first black Disney Princess in history spends most of her own film as a frog.
5 How Often They Rely On Emotional Manipulation
If there is one thing that all Walt Disney movies have in common it is that they are intended to be watched by families and people of all ages. As a result, it makes perfect sense that the movies tackle themes that everyone can understand. A perfect example of this is that all of us can understand and empathize with the emotional trauma of losing a loved one, especially when it comes to someone’s parents.
However, it seems pretty lazy that Disney has gone to the deceased parent well so many times. After all, Disney movies like Bambi, Cinderella, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, and Frozen all pluck on viewers’ heartstrings by having the lead character lose their parents.
4 Most Are Family Films That End With Extreme Moments
In the weeks leading up to Disney releasing their latest major animated movie, people are bound to see their local toy stores filled to the brim with merchandise related to it. If it wasn’t already obvious that Walt Disney Animation Studios makes content for the whole family, including kids, all of those toys definitely drive that point home.
That is why it is so surprising to see how often those same films end with their main villains meeting their end in often graphic ways. If you are not sure what we mean then remember the way characters like Claude Frollo, Mother Gothel, Scar, Ursula, Clayton, Gaston, and several others were eliminated.
3 How Could So Many People Not Fit In Cinderella’s Glass Slipper?
If you are anything like us, then you have found yourself wondering a few things while watching Disney’s Cinderella. For instance, why is her footwear called slippers in the movie? On top of that, there is another aspect of Cinderella’s glass slippers that we find puzzling: How could she be the only one who fits into them?
Desperate to find the woman of his dreams, Prince Charming has every woman in his kingdom try on the slipper she left behind and none of them can even get their foot inside it. Considering how many women try on the slipper, surely one of them would have the same size feet as Cinderella or at least have tootsies close enough in size that they could make wearing it work?
2 So Many Films Are Dominated By Male Characters
Considering so many people think of the Disney Princesses first when the studio’s animated movies are brought up, you’d think that their films would be heavily tilted towards female characters. However, in a lot of cases, the opposite is true, even if the movie is named after its lead female character.
In fact, films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Pocahontas, all have a lead female character whose life is heavily guided by the men in their life. The only saving grace with this one is that the latest Disney Animated movies feature a much better gender balance especially in terms of main characters.
1 The Boys Who Get Turned Into Donkeys In Pinocchio Never Recover
If you don’t remember how intense Pinocchio is or haven’t seen it before, you may be in for a big surprise. This is the case because the movie features a sequence that seems like it came directly out of a horror movie, and an intense one at that.
Halfway into the movie, Pinocchio and his cricket sidekick find their way to Pleasure Island where they befriend several boys. During this extended sequence, we find out that these children are being tricked into drinking something that transforms them into donkeys. As we witness one of the kids change, he screams for help from his momma. Of course, Pinocchio escapes a similar fate but the movie doesn’t seem to care about any of the other boys who weren’t so lucky since they are never helped!
Sources: Screen Rant, The Top Tens, Mental Floss, The Atlantic, The Gamer