Like any other genre, the animation field is littered with underwhelming movies that have somehow amassed a much more acclaimed reputation than they actually deserve. This list seeks to point the spotlight on five such titles:
1. 'South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut' (1999)
There are few modern comedies – animated or live action – that are as overrated as South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, as the film’s rapturous reception among both critics and moviegoers was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of its unwarranted acclaim (an Oscar nomination? Really?). In bringing the popular television series to the big screen, Matt Stone and Trey Parker chose not to upgrade the show’s rather crude animation style (something that 2007’s The Simpsons Movie did beautifully) – with the only real difference between the film and the series an emphasis on R-rated swear words. The sporadically clever storyline stands as the film’s only engaging attribute, yet it’s hardly enough to compensate for an otherwise tedious atmosphere.
It seems sacrilegious to label a Pixar movie as overrated, yet Ratatouille is simply unable to match the level of quality set by top-notch predecessors like 1999’s Toy Story 2 and 2004’s Finding Nemo. The movie begins with promise, however, as Brad Bird establishes a vivid atmosphere that’s heightened by a central character, Remy the rat, that’s as charming and lovable as any within Pixar’s body of work. It’s only as the focus shifts to a bumbling figure named Linguini that the movie slowly begins to lose its grip on the viewer, with the emphasis on Linguini’s slapstick-heavy exploits ensuring that Ratatouille becomes something that will appeal mostly to small children (which is fine, but we’ve come to expect so much more from Pixar).
Few modern animated efforts are as disappointing as Coraline, as the movie’s eye-popping stop-motion animation style is certainly a refreshing change from the computer-generated fare that dominates multiplexes. The rather simple storyline, which follows the title character as she stumbles into an off-kilter alternate universe, is initially enhanced by the impressively conceived visuals, yet there reaches a point at which filmmaker Henry Selick bogs the proceedings down with an almost unreasonably emphasis on quirkiness. The oddball atmosphere ensures that the movie finally feels more like an art-school project rather than a cohesive feature film, which is too bad given the time and effort that’s clearly gone into Coraline’s production.
4. 'The Triplets of Belleville' (2003)
Ten years in the making, The Triplets of Belleville features as impressive and consistently jaw-dropping an animation style as one could envision. Filmmaker Sylvain Chomet’s innovative visual sensibilities prove effective at initially capturing the viewer’s attention, yet it’s not long before the novelty of the movie’s look wears off and the almost uncomfortably quirky ambience becomes increasingly difficult to stomach. This didn’t stop critics from falling all over themselves to praise the movie, however, and the movie even went on to earn two Oscar nods. The end result is a film that’s been designed to appeal solely to animation buffs, as most viewers will be left scratching their heads at the film’s persistently oddball atmosphere.
5. 'Bambi' (1942)
Though easily the best movie on this list, Bambi is nevertheless the most overrated animated effort stemming from Disney’s “Golden Age” – as the film moves at a sluggish pace and contains a number of undeniably dated elements (including a Greek chorus that opens and closes the proceedings). It’s worth noting that, on its own, Bambi is quite an entertaining piece of work, with the memorable characters and touching storyline sustaining the viewer’s interest from start to finish. It’s only as it's placed side by side with bona fide classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan that Bambi loses its luster, and it’s clear that the movie owes its enduring success to the justifiably indelible death of the title character’s mother.