A Heap of Animated Films You Can Stream Right Now for a Huge Dose of Nostalgia
Pull on your comfiest outfit, pop plenty of corn and prepare for a marathon of 'Shrek', 'The Land Before Time', Studio Ghibli hits and Disney favourites.
Lazing on the couch. Wearing your comfiest clothes. Feeling very, very cosy. For folks trying to find something — anything — to be positive about from the past year, these benefits of spending so much time at home should rank highly. With the colder weather upon us once more, they're also a recipe for blissful winter lounge sessions.
Fancy feeling extra warm and fuzzy? Keen on some agreeable viewing options that'll not just make you feel cosy, but nostalgic too? Need a feel-good fix that only a nice animated blast from your past can rustle up? Jump into that groove you've got going on the sofa, put on your snuggest outfit and settle in to relive brighter, sunnier times — we've rounded up a whole heap of retro animated flicks that you can stream or watch on VOD right now.
ALMOST EVERY STUDIO GHIBLI FILM
Getting spirited away, spending time with Totoro and chasing a moving castle are now as easy as clicking a few buttons whenever you feel like it. So is revelling in the heartwarming delights of one of the best animation studios there is, too. Over the past four decades, Studio Ghibli's reputation and popularity have only grown with each new film, with the Japanese outfit beloved the world over — for a very good reason. Whether you're fond of the talents of the great Hayao Miyazaki, or you've fallen hard for gorgeous animation by fellow Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, Miyazaki's son Gorō Miyazaki, and other directors Yoshifumi Kondō, Hiroyuki Morita and Hiromasa Yonebayashi, you'll find them all available to stream on Netflix. In fact, from Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro to Spirited Away and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, every solely Studio Ghibli-produced animated feature except Grave of the Fireflies is on offer, as well as made-for-TV movie Ocean Waves.
Twenty-one Studio Ghibli films are available to stream via Netflix.
FERNGULLY: THE LAST RAINFOREST
Mention the words Robin Williams and animation in the same sentence, and one film springs to mind. Aladdin deserves the instant recognition; however the 1992 hit was actually the second movie released that year to feature Williams' vocal stylings, after FernGully: The Last Rainforest. In the latter, he voices Batty Koda, an unstable bat who says he's been experimented on by people. He's fantastic, obviously — and he raps. But that's just one of the highlights of this environmental musical fantasy, which follows a logger, Zak (voiced by Jonathan Ward), who is shrunk down to fairy size by the winged, magical Crysta (Samantha Mathis). Christian Slater, Tim Curry, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong and Tone Loc also provide voices, and the movie's message against pollution and deforestation is a worthy one. Oh, and any Aussie 90s kid knows, the entire film is set in Australia.
PIXAR'S ENTIRE CATALOGUE
Disney+, Disney's very own streaming platform, was always going to become the one-stop-shop for all of the entertainment behemoth's many famous brands, franchises and studios. That includes Pixar — and with the company spending the past quarter-century making lively, thoughtful, soul-lifting animated features, there are plenty of movies for fans to stream, re-stream and then stream yet again. In fact, all 24 Pixar features to date are available on the platform, including last year's Onward and Soul. In June, newcomer Luca will join them, too. That means you can now spend, hours, days and weeks reliving the ups and downs of the Toy Story saga, enjoying the antics of Ratatouille's wannabe chef, being overwhelmed with emotion thanks to Inside Out and pondering the life of a dutiful robot left all alone in WALL-E.
Pixar's entire feature catalogue is available to stream via Disney+.
THE LAND BEFORE TIME
If The Land Before Time taught us anything, it's this: even in prehistoric times, when you're a cute baby dinosaur and your species rules the earth, life isn't just about roaring, eating and playing. For "longneck" Littlefoot (voiced by Gabriel Damon), his trek to find the Great Valley is filled with peril — but it also fuels one of the most beloved non-Disney, Pixar and Studio Ghibli animated films there is. Of course, Littlefoot's journey also involves life lessons, endearing adventures and plenty of other cute, tiny dinosaurs, all in a movie that sparked a whopping 13 direct-to-video sequels between 1994 and 2016 (as well as a TV series). It seems that a pre-Jurassic Park Steven Spielberg knew what he was talking about when he decided he wanted to produce a movie like Bambi, but with dinosaurs. Also a producer on this heartfelt flick: George Lucas.
A HEAP OF DREAMWORKS FLICKS
When DreamWorks jumped into the animation game back in the 90s, it did so with a splash. In one year, 1998, it released both the computer-animated Antz and the traditionally animated The Prince of Egypt. Then, in 2001, it had audiences everywhere falling for a cranky, green, Mike Myers-voiced ogre in Shrek. Not every DreamWorks film has hit the mark, of course. For every franchise-starter such as Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, there's been the less-successful likes of Shark Tale and Over the Hedge — and, more than many other animation studios, its flicks entertain actual kids far more than kidults. But if you're still keen for a DreamWorks-shaped trip down memory lane, both Netflix and Stan boast a sizeable array of the company's aforementioned movies, including everything from Bee Movie, Megamind and Monsters vs Aliens to How to Train Your Dragon and more.
THE IRON GIANT
What it means to be alive is one of humanity's oldest questions, and one of our most frequent literary and cinematic narratives as well. In The Iron Giant, a 100-foot-tall metal-eating alien robot voiced by Vin Diesel is doing the pondering, after the eponymous figure plummets from the sky and lands outside the town of Rockwell, Maine circa 1957. There, in a tale based on Ted Hughes' 1968 novel The Iron Man, he befriends a curious nine-year-old called Hogarth (voiced by Eli Marienthal), as they both try to hide from the Soviet-fearing Cold War-era US government. Marking the debut feature by director Brad Bird (The Incredibles and its sequel, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland), the result is one of the smartest, sweetest, most ambitious and astute all-ages animated films there is — which you'd expect from a movie that uses a towering space robot to contemplate not just human nature, but our ability to defy expectation and choose who we wish to be.
For decades now, no childhood has been complete without a whole bunch of animated Disney movies. The Mouse House has been in the business of making feature-length animated flicks for 83 years — since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs first released in 1937 — and it's still going strong. Obviously, everything from Pinocchio, Bambi and Cinderella to The Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood and The Rescuers are all on Disney+. More recent films, such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, are too. And so is the movie that combined a cartoon mouse, eight pieces of classical music and over two hours of gorgeous animation into a masterpiece: the pioneering, imaginative and highly experimental hit Fantasia.
Disney's animated films are available to stream via Disney+.
FANTASTIC MR FOX
Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson and stop-motion animation: that's a match made in cinematic heaven. Dahl wrote the acclaimed 1970 children's novel about the canny and cunning titular fox, of course, while Anderson brings it to life with a voice cast that includes George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe and Owen Wilson. While Fantastic Mr Fox is his first animated feature, the director behind Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a natural when it comes to witty comedy paired with playfulness, ample sight gags and a whole lot of visual symmetry. As for the story, it follows Mr Fox's (Clooney) efforts to outsmart a trio of mean farmers — and it's told here with energy, personality and Anderson's usual charm.
Fantastic Mr Fox is available to stream via Amazon Prime Video.
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT
It's the part live-action, part animated film that's really not for kids, and it's still a delight more than three decades later. Who Framed Roger Rabbit steps back to 1947, plays with both neo-noir and comedy, and creates a world where humans and cartoons — or Toons as they're called — co-exist. A who's who of Hollywood's late-80s best and brightest were all considered for the part of private detective Eddie Valiant (Harrison Ford, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy among them), but Bob Hoskins is pitch-perfect in the role. Also working a charm is the film's dark but funny tone, its exceptional special effects, and the reteaming of Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Lloyd after Back to the Future. Oh, and the fact that this always-entertaining PI tale is basically an oddball take on all-time classic Chinatown.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is available to stream via Disney+.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
More than a quarter-century ago, Tim Burton and Henry Selick served up one of the most enchanting holiday films to hit the big screen — and one that doubles as both Halloween and Christmas viewing. It's Burton's name that everyone remembers; however a pre-Coraline Selick is actually in the director's chair on The Nightmare Before Christmas, which charms with both its offbeat story and its gorgeous stop-motion animation. Burton came up with the narrative though, because Jack Skellington only could've originated from the Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands filmmaker's brain. Imaginative, original and engaging (even as it nods to Dr Seuss a few times), it still remains a treat for all ages no matter the time of year.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is available to stream on Disney+.
Published on May 22, 2021 by Sarah Ward