Written by: Hannah Van Kuiken and Blythe Moseman
As the movie industry cranks out hundreds of new movies each year, it can be hard to keep track of all of them. It can be even harder to remember excellent movies that weren’t as popular with the masses. We’ve compiled a list of “oldie but goodie” movies that have been forgotten by time and deserve to be remembered. Some of these may be woven into the web of your childhood, but all are worth a re-watch, regardless of your age.
Tron is a classic 80s movie about a computer engineer who gets transported into the digital world and must battle against an executive in his company who has been stealing his work. The movie had cutting edge computer animation at the time, but it quickly grew outdated. It’s still worth a watch due to the innovative storyline.
This 2001 Disney cartoon is a great adventure movie but seems to be underrated. An inexperienced young adventurer becomes the key to unraveling an ancient mystery when he joins up with a group of daredevil explorers to find the legendary lost empire of Atlantis. There’s turmoil and mythology and evil villains. It’s definitely a unique Disney movie, and we think it deserves a live-action remake.
- Hunchback of Notre Dame
This French 1996 Disney cartoon is based off the novel by Victor Hugo. It contains the tale of a malformed, orphan bell-ringer Quasimodo in the tower of Notre Dame who falls in love with a gypsy girl named Esmeralda. There’s a lot of drama with Quasimodo’s master, Claude Frollo, who wants Esmeralda for himself. The movie has a lot of artistic beauty and a good storyline, as well as lessons about the meaning of love and sacrifice.
- Robin Hood
Our childhoods were blessed with this fun, cartoon rendition of Howard Pyle’s “rob from the rich and give to the poor” story. Released in 1973, this movie captured kids’ imaginations with anthropomorphized foxes, bears, and rabbits retelling the classic story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. This movie is a classic and definitely was formative in our love of medieval culture.
- Sword in the Stone
Another similar medieval cartoon (1963) is Sword in the Stone, which is a whimsical and funny tale that brings a new light to the story of King Arthur. Many tales abound about the legendary Arthur, but none do it in as fun a way as this cartoon. We bet you’ll fall in love with the crazy Mim and the mysterious Merlin.
- Black Cauldron
The Black Cauldron (1985) is another underrated movie that deserves recognition because it’s full of adventure and has the same charm as the Lord of the Rings, which of course is a total classic. There’s even a little creature that reminds me of Smeagol—except that he’s cute and mischievous rather than creepy and ugly. This story is about how the underdogs can become the heroes if they have courage to do what’s right.
- Cat from Outer Space
Tired of the well-worn stories about aliens? This wild movie (1985) definitely gives a new outlook on science and a new perspective on aliens with an adorable cat and goofy characters who have to save the world.
- Bed Knobs and Broomsticks
A witch who tries to help the cause of WW2 and defeat the Nazis with the help of three children? Now that sounds interesting! This 1971 mixed media film (partly live action, partly cartoon) is a fascinating movie that will engage all ages—as long as you can get over some of the cringy animations.
Ahh, Herbie. Our favorite punch bug, who comes to life and has a mind of his own. This funny live-action Disney movie (1969) all about silly adventure and the importance of family. There’s a series of Herbie movies, and they all have a particular charm to them.
- Happiest Millionaire
This 1967 classic appreciates the simple things in life, like having a family and enjoying shenanigans. A clever butler takes care of the household of a quirky and joyful millionaire, his stoic wife, Cordelia, and their spitfire daughter. When the daughter goes to boarding school and becomes engaged to a debonair princeling, it’s up to the butler to help the two families keep it all together.
- The Gnome Mobile
The Gnome Mobile (1967) is definitely a kid friendly movie. It’s about a lumber company that chops down trees, and the gnomes aren’t happy about that because it’s their home (thus a battle ensues). The interesting thing about this movie is that it shows a fair representation of both side (for example, the lumberjack isn’t necessarily an evil villain; he’s just misguided).
- Hot Lead and Cold Feet
A movie released in 1978, set in the Wild West, tells the tale of a minister from New England who experiences a culture shock. Turns out, he’s actually the son of the founder of the town, so he inherits the town and things go crazy between him and his long-lost twin brother (both of whom are played by the same actor). A similar caliber of movie as “The Apple Dumplin’ Gang,” (which is totally another movie that should have made this list), it also stars Don Knotts, making it a hilarious stress-relieving movie.
- Shark Tales
Put simply, this 2004 computer animated film is just a fishy version of the “Godfather.” Except it’s kid friendly.
By far one of the newest movies on our list, Megamind (2010) is the story of an underdog supervillain who actually ends up being the superhero at the end. What’s not to love about a big blue-headed alien who messes up his works and comes up with evil inventions to rule the world? This movie is great for those people who need a supply of hilarious quotes and zany facial expressions.
- Joseph, King of Dreams
Dreamworks does a masterful retelling of the Biblical patriarch Joseph. This 2000 film typically is underrated because it falls under the shadow of the Dreamworks 1998 masterpiece “Prince of Egypt,” but “Joseph King of Dreams” is still a good story unto itself. Artistically beautiful, musically catchy, and powerfully compelling, this movie is worth remembering and rewatching.
This 2003 cartoon is a sailor adventure movie. Basically, a rogue pirate turns good because he wants his crush to like him. There’s some mythology incorporated into it. The lesson to be learned: be a good person for the one you love.
- Chicken Run
What’s not to love about a good escape movie? This 2000 stop-motion claymation, although quirky, has some definitely humorous elements to it. It also has good lessons about pride, being a good friend, and being very careful about what sorts of villains go into your chicken pot pies.
Hugo is an orphaned, mechanical genius who runs into an old grumpy man. Hugo later finds out that he had used to be a movie director who had to sell his company, and, in depression, he burned all his works. The 2011 film is all about finding a home in unlikely places and being willing to remember painful experiences so you can grow.
- Swan Princess
This 1994 cartoon honestly has the quality of a Disney movie, but because it was produced by an unknown company, it didn’t get as good recognition. Odette, her Prince Derek, and their impish animal friends have to battle Rothbart the evil sorcerer to save Odette from his malicious curse. A fun take on Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” ballet, this movie is one that should have a special place on your shelves.
- The Corpse Bride
Tim Burton movies seem to always make a resurrection around October every year. We love this 2004 film because it is historical. It takes place in Victorian England and it has a dark but silly tone, because apparently life is dull, but when you’re dead it’s a big party.
- Adventures of Tintin
Yep–another adventure movie! What’s not to love about this 2011 mystery solving, danger avoiding, critical thinking, Sherlock type movie, rife with family rivalry, treasures, and friendship?
- Quest for Camelot
Although this 1998 movie does have an Arthurian tone, it’s not actually about King Arthur. It is instead about a girl who dreams of becoming a knight. That’s what her father did before being killed by an evil knight, and she has to go battle him at the climax of the movie. There are a lot of fun elements to this film: it’s got straight-up good adventure, numerous pop culture references, and it even breaks the fourth wall.
This computer animation tale is about hard work and pursuing your dreams, even when others try to discourage you. The 2005 movie has some good humor, and we find it appealing to both older and younger crowds.
- Ella Enchanted
This whimsical and quirky tale is objectively not as good as the book, but it’s still a fun take on Gail Carson Levine’s book. It has a bit of a corny fairytale aspect to it, for sure. Popular songs of the early 2000s are included, making it a throwback for anyone who was fighting through middle school at that time.
Last but not least, this 2004 live action film portrays two orphan girls who find a Great Dane puppy. Unfortunately, the apartment building they move into doesn’t allow pets, so they have hilarious adventures trying to keep the owner from finding Chestnut. This tale is one of friendship, loyalty, quick thinking, and hilarious adventures doing the everyday. It’s definitely worth a watch.
Have another movie you think should be included on this list? Follow the Eagle on social media and discuss it!