1. Cinderella: This is the classic rags to riches story, and has inspired every other one that followed. Additionally, every little girl dreams of being Cinderella—wearing a pretty dress, nice shoes, and going to the ball with her dream guy. Even 60 years after its release, Walt Disney’s timeless film has proven to be the most commercially successful version of this story, which is hundreds of years old.
2. 101 Dalmatians: When it was released in 1961, 101 Dalmatians was an instant success for the Walt Disney Company, and was one of the most successful films of the decade. It inspired a live-action version in the mid-nineties, and a sequel. What made this movie so popular is simple: dogs, dogs, and more dogs. Children love dogs, and this movie has a lot of them. There is not a child alive who will not be enthralled by the Dalmatians and cheer when Cruella De Vil receives her just due at the end.
3. Finding Nemo: When it was released in 2003, Finding Nemo smashed every box office record for animated films, including highest grossing G-rated film (until it was surpassed by Toy Story 3 in 2010). When it was released on DVD, it quickly became the highest selling DVD of all time. In 2008, the American Film Institute named it one of the 10 best animated films ever. The reason: while Pixar’s animation is spectacular, but the main reason audiences love Finding Nemo is that it is a truly original (and interesting) storyline. While many movies were rehashes of classics, Finding Nemo was an instant classic because it was truly original. Your children will watch Finding Nemo over and over (and over and over).
4. Toy Story: While its sequel, Toy Story 3, has overtaken Finding Nemo to become the highest-grossing animated film ever, the best story is the original. Whether you prefer Tom Hanks as Woody, the hapless cowboy or Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, you cannot help but be entertained by their rivalry. Add in the antics of characters such as Mr. Potatohead (Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney—remember Ernest Goes to Camp?), and Sarge (R. Lee Ermey, the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket and the Geico commercial), and Toy Story will have your children rolling on the floor for hours.
5. Dumbo: Although it was made to recoup the losses of Fantasia, Dumbo is considered to be one of Disney’s finest animated films. When released in 1941,Dumbo lacked the detail in Disney’s previous three films, Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Snow White, due to budgetary reasons. It makes up for its simplicity with a heartwarming story of of Dumbo, the baby elephant with huge ears, who was sent to a circus and discovers that he can use his ears to fly. At 64 minutes, Dumbo is one of Disney’s shortest animated films. However, after almost 70 years, Dumbo has proven time and again that it is a children’s classic.
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