It seems like some of the greatest movies of the late 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s are lost memories for so many. With the dawn of the age of Superhero movies and Disney making a serious comeback, the films of our childhood have been lost to time.
We’ve all played a game of “Oh my god do you remember *insert obscure movie here*?!” If your childhood was worth a damn maybe you’ll remember some of these titles.
1. Titan A.E. (2000)
Trying to put your finger on when you first saw or heard of Titan A.E. is most likely going to give you a headache. It feels like one of those movies that just materialized out of thin air. It follows Cale, an orphaned military brat, who is the only key to a machine that can create a new inhabitable planet after earth is destroyed. All the fun, action and betrayal comes from the journey to get young Cale to this machine/ship hidden far off in space; all while racing an alien species out to destroy it. Apparently the film lost Twentieth Century Fox millions of dollars when it tanked in the box office; which is news to me because the movie is pretty dope. Also, if you’re thinking Cale looks an awful lot like Dimitri (Anastasia) you would be correct. He’s a literal carbon copy as the same team worked on both movies as well as Thumbelina.
2. The Pagemaster (1994)
Remember books? Seriously, kids these days don’t seem to read anymore, which makes movies like The Pagemaster pretty much lost on them. The movie hovered somewhere between nightmare fuel and a magic carpet ride with the transition from live action to animation. We follow Richard Tyler, a pessimistic ten year old played/voiced by Macaulay Culkin. Richard seems against any and everything having to do with childhood wonder, play, imagination, and adventure. Up until he is more or less forced into a world where some of the greatest genres and books in storytelling come to life with major lessons to help Richard be open to living his childhood to the fullest and facing his fears. Did I mention Woopi voices the tutu’d book of fairy-tales? Well there ya’ go.
3. Small Solders (1998)
More nightmare fuel incoming! Nothing quite like watching toys come to life and literally try to kill human beings. Despite its PG-13 rating, Small Soldiers pulled in a much younger audience than initially intended and most likely shocked quite a few parents in theaters with the violence factor. Adults hear toys and automatically think you can drop your kids in front of the screen. This 1998 film gave us a story-line that followed the release of the hottest new toys; The Commando Elite and the Gorgonites. One group a mix of bad military tough-guy cliches and the other a group of awkward and gentle monsters. Did I mention both toys end up with military grade chips installed? Well that’s what happens and when the chips bring these toys to life, as well as some unfortunate looking Barbies, it becomes literal mayhem. (I kept my Barbies locked in the closet for years after seeing this film *shivers*)
4. All Dogs Go To Heaven (1989)
You can’t keep a good dog down! No you can’t keep a good dog down! Forgetting about All Dogs Go To Heaven, even for a moment, feels almost blasphemous. This animated movie is fun and heartwarming from start to finish and has a solid lesson ingrained. The importance of redemption and looking beyond yourself for the welfare of others. Charlie sings and swindles his way through life, and out of death, before becoming the reluctant guardian to an orphan little girl who talks to animals. With her help and love Charlie becomes a reformed dog. Did I talk about the singing? THE SINGING!!! Giant (obviously lgbtq) alligators with pipes for days? Yes please.
5. The Iron Giant (1999)
Two thumbs up for movies that hold a mirror to society! Especially when it comes to the fear of “others”. The Iron Giant covers all the feel categories in its near 90 minute run time. Despite it being a flop in the box office this movie has definitely earned its obscure classic status. The movie follows The Iron Giant, voiced by Vin Diesel, and the boy he befriends after mysteriously falling to earth; Hogarth. Hogarth is an energetic and curious young boy who teaches the giant how to be good when it becomes clear that despite his gently nature, the giant was created as a weapon of war. Using Superman as a role model, Hogarth is able to get the giant to choose to be good in the face of evil. We witness such things as a child explaining death and loss, having experienced the loss of a parent. As well as what it means to be a hero and sacrifice for the well-being of others. (even if they wouldn’t do the same for you)
6. Thumbelina (1994)
Before the blockbuster that was Anastasia and the flop that was Titan A.E., there was Thumbelina. It’s OK to admit that “Let Me Be Your Wings” is playing in your head right now. This beautifully animated movie belongs in the classic grouping of Disney movies such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. We follow Thumbelina, a tiny girl following her heart after meeting the fairy prince who is instantly taken with her (because realistic love in fairy tales isn’t a thing). After sneaking away with him Thumbelina becomes lost in the woods, an already large and scary place made worse by her size. She sings and dances her way through encounters with frogs, bugs, and greedy rodents before she is reunited with her normal sized adoptive mother. In true fairy-tail fashion the end reveals that Thumbelina was always a fairy but a late bloomer when it came to getting her wings.
7. A Troll in Central Park (1994)
It wasn’t until I re-watched A Troll in Central Park that I realized this movie is extraordinarily dark. It follows the story of a kind troll named Stanley with a magical green thumb who is ostracized from his home for wanting to create flowers, trees, and other bountiful plant-life. Stanley’s power and his cheery outlook is seen as more of a disability or disfigurement; unfortunately taken as something bad rather than something that makes him special and unique. All other trolls are evil creatures and spend the movie hunting him, more or less, in an attempt to stop him for good. Stanley hides out in central park and meets two curios children Gus and Rosie. The children, mainly Rosie, bond with Stanley and help him not only embrace his gift on a grand scale, but also defeat the evil troll queen and bring a kind and gracious king to the throne.
8. The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
The Brave Little Toaster is an interestingly entertaining movie. We follow five household items with an heartwarming attachment to their owner, an eccentric twenty something named Rob. Rob keeps Toaster, Lampy, Blanky, Radio, and Kirby (toaster, lamp, heated blanket, AM radio, and vacuum respectively) at a cottage in the woods. As his life progresses, Rob leaves these small appliances more frequently and for longer periods of time. When the appliances realize Rob may have abandoned them, thanks to the appearance of a real-estate agent trying to sell the cottage, they head out on a journey to find their master. The movie is a roller coaster of heart-wrenching sequences including Toaster sacrificing himself to save Rob and the other appliances. Don’t worry though Rob makes sure to fix him up nice.
9. Treasure Planet (2002)
Treasure Planet is easily one of the best Disney movies of the early 2000’s but gets left off of EVERY list of children’s movies singing Disney’s praises. This futuristic pirate film is Disney’s interpretation of Treasure Island and follows a troubled teen named Jim. Jim lives with his overworked single mother and can’t seem to stay out of trouble, in fact, being where he shouldn’t is what starts his adventurous romp trough the galaxy. As compared to most other Disney movies, Treasure Planet seems to be the only film to tackle what it means to watch a character grow. We aren’t faced with a character’s miraculous change of heart, but instead we watch him become a better person and man through almost a type of training. A firm hand and honest guidance shows Jim that he needs to be there for his mom, as well as for himself. There are other fun and important aspects about the movie as well but the highlight is easily Jim’s little jelly creature pet, Morph.