The aughts were an age of excellence for animated movies. Pixar continued the momentum they built up on the ’90s, releasing instant classics like Finding Nemo, Up, Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., and WALL-E. Although Disney had always worked with Pixar, they formally bought the studio in 2006, and two giants became one supergiant.
Pixar was bulletproof in the ’00s, but Disney was not. Although Disney made a lot of great non-Pixar films like The Princess and the Frog, The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Lilo & Stitch, they also made a lot of less memorable ones. They may have been a hit with kids, but they were received modestly at best by critics and stayed in our cultural consciousness for roughly one second.
Disney wasn’t the only one with some regrettable ’00s titles, though: DreamWorks and other studios made some forgettable films too. Are you ready to examine these faded films?
Not all of the movies on this list are bad. But, deservedly or not, they have faded from the memories of millennials.
Previously, we’ve looked at 15 forgotten animated shows of the aughts. We’ve also delved into second-tier teen fare of that decade, looking at both movies and TV. Now let’s take a take a refresher course in the movies of the aughts with 15 ’00s Animated Kids’ Movies You Completely Forgot About.
15. Dinosaur (2000)
Disney’s Dinosaur was a prestige animation project. The film used an innovative style: the dinosaurs were animated with CGI while the backgrounds were live-action, filmed on location. The idea was to make the dinos look as realistic as possible, and it was definitely a success.
However, Dinosaur is a pretty serious and somber affair. After all, it’s about meteors striking the Earth and putting the dinosaurs in peril. Much of the movie is about the dinosaurs dolefully trekking through the world to try to find a place where they’ll be safe from meteors.
Dinosaur received generally positive reviews from critics, although many took issue with the decision to create incredibly realistic dinosaurs and then break the illusion by having them talk. But excellent craftsmanship alone isn’t enough to make an animated movie memorable to audiences. You also need some heart, which Dinosaur lacked.
14. Robots (2005)
This intricately-animated film takes place in a world of robots and stars Ewan McGregor as an idealistic inventor named Rodney Copperbottom. Actually, all of the characters in this movie have imaginative names, and the voice cast is chock full of famous actors. There’s Fender Pinwheeler (Robin Williams), Piper Pinwheeler (Amanda Bynes), Phineas T. Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), Bigweld (Mel Brooks), and Madame Gasket (Jim Broadbent). And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of this goldmine of a cast.
The film, which is billed as being “from the creators of Ice Age,” has a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics praised the movie for its animation but characterized the story as lackluster. Strangely enough, one of the movie’s three screenwriters is David Lindsay-Abaire, the critically-acclaimed playwright who authored Rabbit Hole.
13. Chicken Little (2005)
This film is a retelling of the folk tale “Chicken Little,” in which a chicken sees an acorn fall from the sky and thinks the world is ending (that’s where the line “The sky is falling!” comes in). There are many different versions of this story, and thus different morals. One is to not be a chicken but instead to be courageous. Another is not to believe everything you’re told.
The 2005 Disney film had something much bigger than an acorn fall from the sky: an alien artifact. Chicken Little tries to tell the world about the weird object that fell on him from the sky, but they dismiss him as crazy, thinking that it was just an acorn that hit him. But aliens are actually invading, and eventually, everyone sees that Chicken Little was right.
12. The Wild (2006)
You probably don’t remember The Wild. With its generic title and familiar plot of wild animals running free in the big city, it’s not terribly unique. In fact, it sounds exactly the same as the far more successful Madagascar, released just a year earlier. Even the plot about a male lion on a quest to save his son is derivative of tragic wildebeest stampede plot line in Disney’s The Lion King (1994).
The Wild was also made by Walt Disney Pictures, but that’s no guarantee of success. Despite producing the best animated movies of our time, they also make a lot of flops. And this film was definitely a flop, garnering only average reviews from critics and forgotten by filmgoers. However, Eddie Izzard does deliver a truly funny performance as the British Koala Nigel.
11. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
This sci-fi outing from Disney follows Lewis, a 12-year-old orphan and inventor whose life in changed when a mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson takes him into the future. It’s a “fish out of water” story with the added element that Lewis, as a tech geek, is obviously super thrilled to be in a future world full of advanced technology. Lewis has always dreamt of finding the mother who abandoned him. In the future, he grows close to Wilber’s large, eccentric family.
Meet the Robinsons was the first film released after Pixar luminary John Lasseter became chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios. The movie received mixed to positive reviews from critics. However, reviews did spotlight the film’s subtle story and positive moral, and for these reasons it merits revisiting.
10. Bolt (2008)
When Bolt came out, it was well-received by critics. But almost a decade later, it’s just another animated dog movie that we sort of remember but not really.
The titular dog is voiced by John Travolta. Miley Cyrus voices his seven-year-old owner, Penny. This was 2008, when Cyrus was still in her Disney stage. She was three years into the six year run of Hannah Montana.
The plot is pretty endearing: Bolt and Penny are the stars of the TV show Bolt, in which the pup plays a dog of the same name who has superpowers and must fight against the evil Doctor Calico. But here’s the thing: to elicit the best performance from the canine actor, the show’s producers have tricked him into believing the show is real and he really does have powers. Does that really make a dog’s performance noticeably better? Who knows.
Bolt mistakenly thinks that Penny is missing and reasons that she’s been kidnapped by Doctor Calico, so he runs off to save her. But Penny actually not missing. She’s totally fine. And now Bolt is missing from the studio on a wild goose chase.
9. The Road to El Dorado (2000)
After Elton John wrote the music for Disney’s The Lion King in 1995, he took his talents to DreamWorks Animation for this movie musical. The Road to El Dorado is one of the few non-Disney movie musicals that are on the same level of excellence as Disney. The movie is a Kenneth Branagh/Kevin Kline buddy comedy about two con artists who find the legendary city of El Dorado and scheme to steal its gold.
It’s a solid comedy with A+ bantering/arguing between Kline and Branagh (who can forget the line “Your horse bit me in the butt!“?). The animation is great, and the music is by Sir Elton John.
8. Brother Bear (2003)
Brother Bear is a parable about an Inuit boy named Kenai who is turned into a bear as punishment for killing one.
Kenai killed said bear as revenge: the bear started a battle that resulted in the death of Kenai’s oldest brother Sitka. In order to return to human form, he has to walk a mile in a bear’s shoes, so to speak, and learn the meaning of brotherhood.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but the far superior Finding Nemo rightfully took home the gold. Brother Bear pales in comparison to the plethora of Oscar-nominated Disney-Pixar films of the ’00s that have now become classics, including Up, Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., and WALL-E.
7. Home on the Range (2004)
Okay, so Home on the Range didn’t do that well at the box office or with critics. But you have to admit, the animation is really cute. Look at these pigs! Look at their cute little faces! These animals deserved better.
Home on the Range had a promising premise. It was a Western about farm animals. The songs were written by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. Disney enlisted country music stars like Tim McGraw and Bonnie Raitt to perform the songs for the soundtrack. Disney had released several great 2D-animated features since 2000, including Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Lilo & Stitch.
6. Valiant (2005)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that carrier pigeons are really cool. They are pigeons who are in charge of carrying important messages! Carrier pigeons that served during wars are even cooler. These winged heroes carried intelligence to humans and saved the world. So how is it possible that an animated movie about World War II carrier pigeons could be so boring?
Valiant was a British film produced by Vanguard Animation and Odyssey Entertainment on a tiny budget. When Vanguard Animation producer Tom Jacomb spoke to The Telegraph about the animation process, he noted that “Most—no, all— our problems were feathers.” It didn’t help that the film was helped by a first-time director, Gary Chapman.
Valiant received mixed reviews and dipped way into the red on Rotten Tomatoes with a 31% rating. At the time that it came out, Valiant held the record for lowest box office of a CGI animated film. Yikes.
5. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
Before we get into this movie, let’s clear something up. This movie isn’t related to “Shazaam”, the nonexistent Mandela Affect movie starring actor and comedian Sinbad. Or perhaps it is?
But let’s not open that can of worms. Instead, let’s talk about this wonderful animated movie with an insanely amazing cast. Get a load of this: Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, Joseph Fiennes.
The movie is based on Sinbad, the fictional sailor who appears in the classic book One Thousand and One Nights. In the movie, Sinbad is a hot pirate, voiced by Pitt. He’s in a love triangle with Prince Proteus (Fiennes), who is engaged to Marina (Zeta-Jones). Michelle Pfeiffer voices Eris, the seductive Goddess of Discord.
4. Shark Tale (2004)
Shark Tale is a mobster movie, but with fish. Many critics took issue with this: not only is the premise not really appropriate for children, but many of the jokes and references went over and kids’ heads. Thus, Shark Tale scored 35% on Rotten Tomatoes and got only average reviews from critics.
But the puns in this movie were so amazing. They were so good that sometimes one of them will just pop into your head 13 years later. Remember how in the underwater city all the stores had true-to-life logos but with punny names, like Old Wavy and Gup? Yeah. Those were good puns.
3. Over the Hedge (2006)
Over the Hedge might look dumb, but it’s actually a commentary on how human infrastructure destroys the habitats of animals and also how the suburbs are a wasteland of sprawling, soul-killing sameness. Pretty heavy stuff!
The plot itself, of course, is still exciting enough to engage young viewers. RJ the raccoon’s food scavenging efforts lead him to discover a huge stash guarded by a hibernating bear. While attempting to steal it, he wakes the bear and manages to ruin the food supply. RJ bargains for his life by promising he’ll replace the food.
He runs into a group of animals who have recently awakened from hibernation to find that their forest has been almost completely wiped out and replaced by suburbia. RJ smells opportunity and leads the animals in an adventure to steal food from the humans over the hedge.
2. Flushed Away (2006)
One look at the characters in Flushed Away identifies them as creations of Aardman Animations, the company behind the Wallace and Gromit films. Wallace and Gromit get their distinctive look because they’re made out of Plasticine, a brand of modeling clay. The films starring this man and dog team are made with stop motion, but for Flushed Away, the company opted for CGI but kept the characters’ iconic look.
This movie stars Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet, because at this point, it’s probably safe to assume that every famous actor has been in an animated film. Roddy (Jackman) is a pet rat who is flushed into the sewer system and meets the streetwise Rita (Winslet), a native of the sewers who promises to get Roddy back home.
1. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
Taking place in the American West in the 19th century, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is about a feisty wild horse named Spirit who is captured from his herd by Americans who want to domesticate him. He befriends a Native American named Little Creek who is also a prisoner of the Americans.
Spirit is voiced by Matt Damon, but in a weird way. Matt Damon narrates Spirit’s thoughts, but the rest of the time, Spirit just makes horse sounds. By the way, Matt Damon is the only recognizable name in this cast.
Spirit resists captivity valiantly, but eventually, the humans break him. There’s a happy ending, though: he eventually makes it back to his herd and gets a horse girlfriend. But what’s “Cimarron”? It’s the name of Spirit’s herd.
Are they any other animated movies from the 2000s you want to remind us about? Leave them in the comments!
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