I don’t talk about animated films a lot on this blog, mostly because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it more difficult to connect with them emotionally. But there certainly was a time when I adored and lived by cartoons. Here are the 10 animated films I cherished most as a child. Hope you enjoy my picks, and be sure to share yours as well!
This feature is actually split into two segments, and it’s the second one, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, that I’ll forever cherish. The scene when poor Ichabod is on his way home from a party and becomes increasingly spooked by every noise of nature is so pleasantly iconic. The image of the Headless Horseman finally appearing will forever be a part of my childhood.
By far my favorite animated film of all time, Cinderella is a treasure of a movie that I will never grow tired of. Watching this movie sends chills down my spine as I’m reminded of the countless times it lovingly embraced me as kid. I was so taken with Cinderella’s ceaseless optimism and the unselfish help she received from her many animal friends. That mixed with the cold contempt (and eventual takedown) of the stepmother and stepsisters made for a routinely rewarding experience. Seriously, I watched this movie on repeat as a kid.
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Remember that twilight scene, when Pongo barks to see if any other dog can hear him, and then the whole neighborhood of dogs bark in support? My God, that just killed me.
All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
I’m still kind of amazed that All Dogs Go to Heaven was made. Watching it now, I notice how dark of a film it is. A dog is murdered, goes to Heaven, then secretly goes back to Earth, knowing he could possibly die and be sent to Hell. Heavy stuff for a four year old. But oh how I loved watching Charlie B. Barkin rediscover the meaning of life in this animated classic.
Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out (1989)
I adored all three Wallace and Gromit short films, but A Grand Day Out was always my favorite. When Wallace scoured his flat looking for cheese to accompany his crackers, I was devastated when he came up empty handed. But when he glanced up at the moon and said, “Everybody knows the moon’s made of cheese,” I couldn’t help but believe him.
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
One of my favorite animated sequels of all time, this Steven Spielberg-produced adventure follows the Mousekewitz family as they move west to search of a better life. In all honesty, despite watching this film repeatedly as a kid, I didn’t remember much about it while drafting this post. But when I put it on a few days ago, it was a massive blast from the past. Every passing scene brought on a host of old memories. That’s part of what makes these movies so fun, isn’t it?
When The Little Mermaid breathed new life into Disney films, we were soon hit with a surge of solid new animated films. My favorite was always Aladdin, a rags to riches tale that proved love conquered all, including material wealth. Robin Williams gives one of the all time great voice acting performances as The Genie, and plus, how can you not love to hate Jafar?
Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation (1992)
The 7-year-old me knew that this Tiny Toon flick got it. They understood the anticipation a little kid feels when he’s seconds away from being let out of school for the summer. They understood the utter importance of having a fun and memorable summer vacation. The 28-year-old me now smiles at the film’s eagerness, and is endlessly amused by its many hidden pop culture references.
A Goofy Movie (1995)
It’s all about those musical performances. My friends and I didn’t just memorize the words, we memorized the dances. We sang and we danced and we ate absurd amounts of spray can cheese, all an in effort to get closer to this magnificent little film.
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
This is a bit of a cheat, but I’m including it for good reason. James and the Giant Peach was one of the first films I saw that began one way, and seamlessly switched to another. Before this film, I didn’t know movies were allowed to switch from live action to animation (and back again). What a great discovery that was.