The most popular Disney movies are successful for a good reason; films like The Lion King are spectacular. However, Disney also has some gems that don’t get the love that Frozen, Beauty & the Beast, or Cinderella get. With Disney Plus out, you can go on the movie bender of your dreams with these 13 most underrated Disney Movies you can watch on Disney Plus.
13 Most Underrated Disney Movies You Can Watch On DisneyPlus
1. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame came out in 1996, and was based on the Victor Hugo book of the same name.
The story follows Quasimodo who spends his life imprisoned in Notre Dame cathedral by his father-figure Frollo. Tired of ringing the cathedral bells and talking to statues, he breaks out for the Festival of Fools. Quasimodo ends up helping to save Esmerelda from Frollo who either wants her to be his, or to kill her because she’s a gypsy.
I think one of the reasons this isn’t as popular is because it’s on the heavier side for Disney. The plot is largely about racism and anti-Romani sentiment, but racism is learnt, so if anything more kids should watch this so they learn to be accepting and tolerant of everyone. Plus, Frollo’s obsession with Esmerelda is deeply uncomfortable.
Frollo is also up there with Scar are one of the best Disney Villains.
2. Treasure Planet
Treasure Planet is Disney’s take on the Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island.
The 2002 film is basically Treasure Island but set in space instead of at sea. Jim Hawkins is a rebellious teenager who ends up with a treasure map form a pirate, he heads out to… space, and then discovers that the crew are planning a mutiny.
How Morph didn’t become one of the most beloved Disney character is beyond me. He’s like a goo-y space pug! If this isn’t the most underrated Disney movie, Morph is at least the most underrated Disney pet.
3. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Atlantis is technically Disney’s first sci-fi film, as it came out a year before Treasure Planet.
The Lost Empire is about archaeologist Milo Thatch’s adventure trying to find the lost city of Atlantis with a group of explorers.
I think one of the reasons this is an underrated Disney movie, it because it’s more aimed at adults than kids. The morals that crop up and even some inuendos go right over kids heads; which is probably why the kids don’t love it as much as other films but a lot of grown-up Disney fans do.
4. The Emperor’s New Groove
The Emperor’s New Groove, is one of Disney’s funniest films, and the most criminally underrated Disney film in my opinion.
Kuzco is a spoilt emperor who’s turned into a llama by his advisor, Yzma as she tries to steal the crown. Kuzco needs the help of peasant, Pacha, who’s land he wants to build his pool on. Together they have to get him back to the throne, and back to being a human again
The Emperor’s New Groove has become a bit of a meme for good reason, because it’s one of their best comedies.
5. A Bug’s Life
A Bug’s Life is one of the most underrated Disney Pixar collaborations. The most popular Disney Pixar films are Toy Story, and Finding Nemo, but as a kid I watched A Bug’s Life just as much as the other films.
The 1998 film is set in an ant colony which is controlled by grasshoppers who expect them to gather food on their behalf. When Flick accidently destroys the grasshoppers’ food, he’s sent out of the colony on a “mission” as a ploy to get rid of him. Flick thinks he’s found warriors to save the colony but due to a misunderstanding, he actually came back with circus bugs. The insects need to work together to free themselves from the grasshoppers.
6. Brother Bear
I’m old enough to remember seeing Brother Bear in the cinema (and getting a toy in a Happy Meal afterwards) in 2003!
I think the reason Brother Bear is on this underrated Disney movies list is because sad animal stories are too much for us. I watched Bambi once in the 90s and never again because Bambi’s mother dying was too sad. The Lion King is my favourite movie and I still have to look away when Mufasa died.
When a bear kills Kenai’s brother, he kills her as revenge. As a punishment from the Gods, he’s turned into a bear. The only way to become a human again is to befriend and take care of her cub, Koda. This movie will hit you right in the feels.
Disney’s 1997 movie based on Hercules is up there with The Emperor’s New Grove as one of their underrated comedy’s.
The movie is about the god Hercules being raised by humans when Hades leads the child out of Heaven. Hercules must become a true hero to be able to become an immortal, and a god again.
Honestly, the best thing about this movie is Danny Devito as Fil. They’re remaking Hercules and I really hope Danny Devito reprises his role.
8. The Princess And The Frog
Tiana is the most underrated Disney Princesses, if not the most underrated princess. The Princess and the Frog was the last film in their old animation style, which I actually prefer to the newer style.
The Princess and the Frog is a take on the fairy tale. Tiana is a waitress saving up to open her own restaurant, but is turned into a frog after she kisses Prince Naveen. The two try to find a way to become human again so Tiana can turn her dream into reality.
Tiana is such a good example for little girls because she has dreams, but puts the work into making them a reality. She doesn’t need to be rescued, she’s not a damsel in distress, and she doesn’t need a prince. Check out these life lessons from Disney Princesses.
9. A Goofy Movie
Goofy is one of the orignal Disney characters, and it’s only fair that he got one of his own movies (even if it took them until 1995 to do it).
A Goofy Movie is about Goofy trying to connect with his teenage son, Max.
Max likes Roxanne, but doesn’t think she’ll think he’s cool because of his dad. After Goofy finds out about Max’s endeavours to try to impress her, he thinks a fishing trip like the one his dad took him on will help. However, Max begins to resent Goofy even more, and wants to get back to Roxanne.
I think A Goofy Movie is underrated because kids can’t relate to teenagers who like girls and hate their parents. A lot of the target audience for Disney films, are still in their “my parents are the greatest people on the planet” phase. That said, this is still a gem and even gets emotional at times.
10. The Lion King 2
Disney sequels are usually sub-par. It’s often a way for Disney to train in new animators and staff, which is why the animation style is usually not as good, and they don’t always get the original cast back.
As far as Disney sequels go, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride is one of the best. Not only is a key part of this underrated Disney movies list, but is arguably their best sequel.
The Lion King 2 is about Simba’s daughter Kiara struggling to find her place in the circle of life. She’s a free spirit like a young Simba was, and feels her dad is overprotective (he is). After Scar’s death, the Pride split into two groups and Simba banished those who still believed in Scar to the outlands. Kiara disobeys Simba and befriends Kovu, who was chosen by Scar to fulfil his legacy.
The first Lion King was based on Hamlet, so this is Romeo & Juliet.
Zira, Kovu’s mother, is almost as good a villain as Scar is and her song, My Lullaby, is a close rival to Be Prepared.
We don’t speak of the live action.
11. Stitch Has A Glitch
This film is another Disney sequel, but it also deserves a spot on this list.
Lilo can’t understand why Stitch is becoming “bad” again. As it turns out, when Jumba got arrested after making Stitch, he wasn’t fully charged. Stitch’s condition worsens and means certain death if Lilo and Jumbaa can’t figure out a way to save him.
This is another Disney film that will leave you in tears.
12. Peter Pan: Return To Neverland
Peter Pan 2 is about Wendy’s daughter Jane’s adventures with Peter in Neverland. Wendy is kidnapped by Captain Hook who mistakes her for Wendy and takes her to Neverland. Peter, the Lost Boys, and Tinderbell have to help her get home.
I adore Peter Pan so I feel like I must have watched this almost as much as the first Peter Pan. I have a tradition of watching Peter Pan every birthday and lament growing up, but the second one is almost as good.
This birthday I get to watch this underrated Disney movie on Disney Plus, along with the original.
Enchanted is the only movie here that isn’t fully animated, but it still deserves a spot on this underrated Disney movies list. The 2007 film feels like a parody of their other Disney princess films. It flits between real life New York, and the cartoon magical kingdom effortlessly.
Enchanted is about Princess Giselle, who gets banished form her kingdom by her Prince’s evil step mother (yes, she does want to marry a man she just met). She’s transported to the real world and ends up falling for a a lawyer.
Although it’s a sweet movie, it also has it’s funny moments as we see her try to natigate the real world with fairytale logic.
What do you think of this underrated Disney movie list? Do you like this films or do you actually disagree and think they’re overrated?
If you like these movies, you might also like Rugrats in Paris, which is low-key based on Disneyland.