What are your favorite animated movies of the '00s? Some of you probably chose Finding Nemo. Others might have thought of Shrek or one of its sequels. Maybe you picked The Incredibles, or Up, or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. If you're into international animation, you might have answered with Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle. Any of these responses are completely understandable. They are some of the most popular and acclaimed animated features of that decade.
They are also not what this list is about. In fact, we're going a totally different direction altogether. For every animated blockbuster released between 2000 and 2009, there is at least one that failed to stand the test of time. The reasons for this are many. Some are simply not very good. Others found their fates hampered by uncommonly tough competition at the box office. A few are just so fundamentally weird that children and families didn't want to go anywhere near them. These are the forgettable animated movies we're going to look at here.
We've intentionally excluded movies that were obscure or only received a token theatrical release. All of the following entries were sent into theaters nationwide, on the heels of substantial advertising and publicity campaigns. You were likely aware of their existence at the time, even if you haven't thought about them since. We'll tell you what each movie is about and then try to provide a little context for why it's so unmemorable.
Here are 20 Forgettable '00s Animated Movies Only True Fans Remember.
Disney had huge hopes for its 2000 CGI feature Dinosaur. Jurassic Park had, of course, been an all-time blockbuster seven years before, and the advancements in technology made the creation of animated dinosaurs even more dazzling. The studio expected the movie to be a mega-blockbuster.
The story follows an Iguanodon who was raised by lemurs. He's reunited with other dinos after growing up a bit, but then a meteor shower destroys their home. The massive creatures thus begin a trek to find a new place where they can live safely.
Dinosaur made $137 million at the domestic box office, which just barely covered its production cost. Nevertheless, it has virtually disappeared from the public's memory because, quite frankly, Jurassic Park is far more exciting and entertaining. And the dinosaurs in Spielberg's movie don't talk.
19 Everyone's Hero
Everyone's Hero has to be one of the most bizarre animated features ever made. On one hand, it's a love letter to baseball, which is normal enough. It's the way that love letter is delivered that's odd, though.
Set during the Great Depression, this is the story of a young boy who discovers a talking baseball.
Together, they attempt to retrieve Babe Ruth's specially-made bat – which, incidentally, can also talk – from the clutches of a thief.
Everyone's Hero was directed by the late actor Christopher Reeve, and it features the voice talents of Rob Reiner as the ball, Whoopi Goldberg as the bat, and Robin Williams as the manager of the Chicago Cubs. Regardless, the premise is so strange that the movie failed to attract much of an audience.
18 Space Chimps
In 1961, NASA launched a chimpanzee named Ham into space, making him the first primate to go there. In 2008, 20th Century Fox memorialized Ham with the movie Space Chimps. Needless to say, it was the lesser of the two achievements by far.
Andy Samberg provides the voice of the animated Ham III. The movie invents a plot that has little connection to the real tale. Ham's grandson, along with two other chimps, is tasked with retrieving an expensive satellite that has been sucked into a wormhole and spat out on some distant planet. There, they discover an evil alien has transformed the satellite into a weapon. An attempt to foil his plans ensues.
The real story of how Ham went into space is far more compelling than the nonsense this goofy movie dreams up.
17 The Wild
In 2006, Disney released what, at least on paper, should have been a big hit for the studio. The Wild is about a lion who lives in the New York Zoo. By accident, he is sent to Africa, a land he is not prepared to survive in. His friends – an anaconda, a giraffe, and a squirrel – team up to help him find his way home.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, that's because the plot and characters are similar to those of Madagascar.
Considering that hit film opened just one year before, The Wild was practically doomed to fail at the box office, and that's exactly what happened. Audiences weren't interested in seeing a different version of something they'd just seen, leading to an unimpressive $37 million North American gross. Madagascar, in comparison, made $193 million.
16 Clifford's Really Big Movie
You'd be hard-pressed to find a school-aged child who hasn't read a Clifford the Big Red Dog book at some point in their young life. They're a staple of early childhood reading.
While you might remember those books, you're less likely to remember that Warner Bros. released a film about the character into theaters as recently as 2004. Clifford's Really Big Movie finds the large dog running away from home and joining a traveling animal show. His end goal is to win a lifetime supply of his favorite doggie treats.
The movie's animation quality is pretty low. It looks and feels more like a made-for-DVD production than a feature film. Between that and being aimed at the youngest of viewers only, Clifford limped out of theaters with just under $3 million in his dog bowl.
15 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas was designed to be DreamWorks Animation's big summer blockbuster for 2003. It was a rousing adventure, headlined by a well-established character, that had big-time celebrity voices such as Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michelle Pfieffer. Instead, it turned out to be an expensive flop.
What went wrong? For starters, Sinbad was not exactly a hip character with kids by the 2000s.
The movie was also made in hand-drawn animation, which was rapidly falling out of favor with the public, who showed a preference for computer-animated features.
Most notably, though, Sinbad and the Seven Seas had the misfortune of opening just a few weeks after Pixar's Finding Nemo, which captured the attention of families in a major way. The movie didn't even earn back half its $60 million budget domestically.
14 Recess: School's Out
Recess was an animated series focusing on the experience of six elementary school students. The show initially aired on ABC, but later moved to UPN and then to Toon Disney. There were 127 episodes over the course of six seasons.
While by no means a ratings smash, it did well enough that Disney bankrolled a full-length feature film version. Recess: School's Out finds the pint-sized heroes battling an evil school administrator who wants to eliminate summer vacation. His plan involves the use of a special tractor beam that moves the moon closer to Earth's orbit, thereby making it winter all year.
Released in February 2001, the movie earned decent reviews, but came and went from theaters quickly. The target audience just wasn't large enough to make it a hit.
For a time in the '00s, Nickelodeon made a concerted effort to break into the motion picture business with a series of animated films that included Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. By and large, these pictures did better than their attempts at live-action fare.
While it did respectably at the box office, Barnyard made no sort of lasting impression, unlike Jimmy Neutron and SpongeBob.
The plot centers around an irresponsible, hard-partying cow named Otis who learns to develop some maturity when he and his fellow bovines work to stop a kid who engages in the bizarre practice of cow-tipping.
Barnyard was met with negative reviews, which cited the emphasis on silly humor that tended to be hit-or-miss -- with an emphasis on the miss.
Igor certainly has an interesting premise. It builds a story around Igor, the famed assistant of Dr. Frankenstein, referred to here as Doctor Glickenstein - presumably for copyright reasons. John Cusack provides the voice of the character, who yearns to step out of the background and into the spotlight by becoming an evil scientist, just like his boss.
An impressive line-up of actors signed on to do voice work in Igor. In addition to Cusack, there's also John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Jay Leno, and Molly Shannon.
The movie seems to attempt the kind of dark weirdness that makes Tim Burton's movies so popular. Unfortunately, it doesn't know what to do with its cool concept, making it a forgettable disappointment. The uncomfortable mixture of horror elements and kiddie comedy is another impediment.
11 Treasure Planet
Someone at Disney came up with the idea of taking Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel Treasure Island and turning it into a science-fiction adventure. That's not necessarily terrible, although it turned out that way for the studio when Treasure Planet became one of the costliest duds of the '00s.
The movie follows teen Jim Hawkins as he travels the galaxy, following a map that promises to deliver a bounty of riches.
Treasure Planet did not perform nearly as well as most other Disney animated features. It opened while Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and The Santa Clause 2 were still in theaters and capturing family audiences.
Given its $140 million budget, the domestic box office take of $38 million was nothing short of disastrous.
10 Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Remember that movie where Matt Damon played a horse? No? It was called Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron -- a title not exactly designed to stay in the minds of its target audience of children.
Then again, the plot isn't exactly kid-friendly either. Spirit is a wild Mustang who is captured and sold to the U.S. Cavalry. After escaping the clutches of a mean colonel, he is captured once more and forced to do hard labor on the transcontinental railroad. Eventually, Spirit breaks free again and seeks to reunite with others of his kind.
Did we mention this movie is kind of a downer?
9 Fly Me to the Moon
Fly Me to the Moon is a Belgium-U.S.collaboration, and you might want to sit down before we tell you what it's about. The heroes are three talking houseflies who stow away on Apollo 11, joining Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin on their voyage to the moon. Aldrin even appears at the end.
But wait, there's more! The Soviets have a gang of fly astronauts too, and they try to sabotage the American flies' mission.
What led someone to concoct this preposterous story is a mystery.
What's more certain is that Fly Me to the Moon was inexpensively produced, and it shows. The film lacks the visual dazzle and top-tier animation routinely found in Pixar and DreamWorks movies.
3D presentation wasn't even enough to entice children to see this bargain-basement space adventure.
Cleverly released on 9/9/09, this steampunk-influenced science-fiction tale was so ambitious and so deep that general audiences didn't seem to know what to make of it.
The central character is a burlap doll named #9. He makes his way through a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has been wiped out by a contraption called the Great Machine that gained sentience and took over the world. #9 bands together with other burlap dolls to destroy it.
9 is dark, edgy, and occasionally violent. Thematically, it deals with heavy ideas, such as how fear can influence decision-making. There's even a religious vibe running through the story, which suggests life was made by a Creator to serve some unknown purpose.
Obviously, 9 was a tough sell to the masses.
7 Home on the Range
Home on the Range is a 2004 Disney film that follows the exploits of a group of dairy cows. In order to prevent the foreclosure of the farm on which they live, the cows must hunt down a notorious cattle rustler so they can collect the bounty on his head.
Traditional hand-drawn animated movies had drastically decreased in popularity by the time Home on the Range was released.
They weren't making as much money at the box office, and studios were producing far fewer of them for that reason. Blockbusters like Shrek and Monsters, Inc. made CGI animation the preferred family film format.
In fact, after Home on the Range only did middling business, Disney didn't make another one for five years, until The Princess and the Frog.
6 The Road to El Dorado
One of the first big animated movies of the '00s was also one of its bigger busts. The Road to El Dorado came out on March 31, 2000. This DreamWorks production tells the story of two con artists who come into possession of a map that will allegedly lead them to El Dorado, a rumored city of gold.
Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh were hired to do voices, while original songs were penned by Elton John and Oscar winner Tim Rice of Beauty and the Beast fame.
Although lukewarm reviews didn't help, the likeliest reason for The Road to El Dorado failing to make much of an impression is that it doesn't seem as immediately kid-friendly as other animated features. In recent years it has found a nostalgic cult following with adults, however.
Doogal brings together the vocal talents of Jon Stewart, William H. Macy, Bill Hader, Whoopi Goldberg, Chevy Chase, and Kevin Smith.
With so many recognizable names, you'd think it would be more than a blip on the cinematic radar.
This tale of a shaggy dog trying to save some magic diamonds and defeat an evil sorcerer is actually a France-Britain co-production called The Magic Roundabout, based on a popular foreign television series.
Harvey Weinstein bought the rights to distribute it in North America. He promptly re-edited the movie, had U.S. actors dub new dialogue, added a bunch of flatulence jokes and pop culture references that weren't in the original, and changed the title.
Is it any wonder critics dissed Doogal and audiences stayed away in droves?
4 Atlantis: The Lost Empire
A common thread of '00s animated movies is that attempts to use the format to make epic sci-fi adventures typically ended up in failure. Titan A.E. and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within are two notable examples of this. So is Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
The hero is Milo Thatch, voiced by Michael J. Fox. He's an adventurer who decides to continue his grandfather's search for the lost city of Atlantis. The film follows him on this journey.
Viewers didn't seem to know what to make of this atypical Disney movie. The characters didn't break into song, as was then common in the studio's animated fare, and there were no cutesy animal sidekicks.
3 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters
Aqua Teen Hunger Force ran for 11 successful seasons as part of Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" block of programming. The show -- about the adventures of a meatball, a milkshake, and a package of french fries -- amassed a passionate cult following with its unabashedly absurd humor.
In 2007, the anthropomorphic fast food goodies hopped to the big screen with the amusingly-titled Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. Creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro used the opportunity to do all the R-rated things they couldn't get away with on television.
The "movie film" features characters battling a demonic piece of exercise equipment.
Because it was released by a minor distributor, ATHF didn't get into more than 877 theaters, limiting its general awareness. Fans of the show remember the movie, but most others do not.
Valiant is a seriously weird movie. It's about birds, which is okay since kids tend to like just about any type of animal. However, the story is set during World War II - not exactly an era of history that lends itself to lightweight family entertainment. Most curious of all is that it's based on a true story, yet has the birds talk, which undermines the whole idea of historical accuracy.
Ewan McGregor does the voice of the title character, a carrier pigeon whose job is to deliver important communications on behalf of the Allied forces. When one of his colleagues is captured by an Axis falcon, Valiant mounts a mission to save him.
Using animation to teach children about history isn't a bad idea, but the execution here is really misguided.
1 Teacher's Pet
You could be forgiven for not even knowing that Teacher's Pet exists. It opened in mid-January 2004. That month is known as something of a black hole for new movies, since people are back to work and school following the holiday break.
The $6 million domestic gross only solidifies how off-the-radar it was for most folks.
This 73-minute picture utilizes a very stylized -- but not entirely commercial -- style of animation that is intentionally free of detail. It's about a dog who can talk and read. He consequently decides to pose as a human and attend school with his owner.
Teacher's Pet is based on a short-lived cartoon that ran on Saturday morning television. Its inability to find an audience on the small screen is likely another contributor to its inability to find one on the big screen.
How many of these forgotten '00s animated movies do you actually remember? Tell us in the comments.