Our list moves into the top 15, with picks that received at least one top-five vote from someone on the panel and support from others as well. Tomorrow: #12.
13) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2 votes, 139 points)
Chris: With the benefit of perspective, Hunchback was something of an outlier compared to the rest of the quintessential 90s Disney movies. Whereas most of them were lighthearted and fun adventures like Little Mermaid and Aladdin, this…was not that.
I’m actually surprised at how much this movie got away with. It tries to throw a baby into a well two minutes in. It dances around the subject of religion, suggesting that important figures like Judge Frollo could be corrupt and defying the word of God. It essentially decides to burn a character to death as thousands of people cheer, and burn a house down with a family inside. It spends the first half hour or so bullying the protagonist because he’s different from others.
Now, it’s a Disney movie, so good ultimately triumphs over evil and the shunned character saves the day. Nothing wrong with that. The route Hunchback takes to get there is especially cool though.
Couple that with a ridiculously strong opening musical number (and other great tracks like Hellfire and God Help the Outcasts, thanks to Alan Menken) and you have a fantastic film that I feel gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. It’s not without faults (the gargoyles are annoying at times and the middle third of the movie drags a bit), but it’s damn good.
Shaun: I appreciate the dark tones and great music of this movie, but plot left something to be desired. I know this is going to sound rich as an accusation being leveled at Disney, but Hunchback was predictable, by the numbers film that offered little in terms of tension or engagement. Some nice character moments and a menacing, creepy ass villain make up for this, but I thought Hunchback was one of the weaker outings to come out during this time. Still, respect must be given where it is due, and the way puppet narrator holds the note in the Bells of Notre….DAAAAAAAAAA (and so on and so forth) is pure insanity. That man probably died delivering that note.
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