80s animated films are becoming retro in terms of nostalgic value. It was by then that video games were becoming a major part of industry. It was a time of VHS' and fat landline phones. Michael Jackson and Madonna were at the height of their popularity. It was the time of some shows that are still remembered today such as The Cosby Show, The Golden Girls, and Seinfeld.
About forty years now away from the 80s, there is a lot that is worth revisiting. In particular, there are animated films from that time that deserve more attention. Here is our list in no particular order.
9 The Last Unicorn
This film hit television screens in 1982 and was based on the book by the same name. Both the movie and book are underrated, as they have interesting characters and a world you would want to learn more about. Despite it's wondrous and imaginative story, reception for it has always been on the more meek side.
The animation for the movie was stunning enough that the studio was hired by Hayao Miazaki to help create the film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and the core members would later form the famous Studio Ghibli.
8 The Secret of NIMH
Released in the same year as The Last Unicorn, The Secret of NIMH did receive some well-deserved attention such as winning a Saturn Award for Best Animated Film. There are even rumors of a CGI remake being in the works, though expectations for that film will be low since the original was perfect already.
It was a dark fantasy film and had a powerful mother protagonist. With mothers always getting the short-end of the stick when it comes to stories, especially fantasy stories, that on it's own makes The Secret of NIMH special. Besides the protagonist though, the film is just plain gorgeous to look at.
7 The Brave Little Toaster
Talking appliances are typically a sign of a bad film, but that wasn't the case for The Brave Little Toaster.If you saw the film as a child, it's definitely worth re-watching as an adult, because you will be stunned by the themes of death, loss, and separation that the movie touches upon. There is also rather frightening imagery that makes you re-think as to how this story was targeted towards kids. Maybe people decided since these are appliances, we would be less attached to them?
People involved in this film went onto projects that would be more recognized such as co-directing films during the Disney Renaissance like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.
6 An American Tail
Despite targeting a child audience, this film deals with heavy truths about immigration and refugees. In fact, it specifically deals with immigrants escaping from the Imperial Russian land of Ukraine to the United States. It's a kid's film that deals lightly with the big idea of the "American Dream." Some critics called it too depressing for kids, despite it's overall happy ending. It also created some controversy as to how the movie did not own up to the fact that the mice were obviously of Jewish heritage. Based on all these themes, the film is a fascinating conversation piece and should be revisited to re-think it's valuable truths.
5 The Land Before Time
What kind of people would we be without the first Land Before Time on this list? It was directed by the same man who directed An American Tale, Don Bluth. The scene between Littlefoot and his dying mother is still one of the most heartbreaking animated moments adults remember from their childhood. The film also evoked the simple virtue of finding common ground with those that are different, which is an important skill for any kid to learn.
The film created a load of sequels, but none compare to the original in terms of look, story, and sense of discovery as we see Littlefoot grow up.
4 The Black Cauldron
Known as Disney's biggest flop, The Black Cauldron is as underrated as films come. It nearly put the Disney company out of business. However, the film is now getting a bit of a cult following. People are fascinated that it's Disney property, and yet so dark. So why did it fail? There are a lot of theories, a likely one being that parents thought it was too dark for young children and older children thought it was too childish. It certainly is an interesting mix of the two. Watching it, it's hard to believe that it's Disney property. That alone makes it an interesting piece of Disney history worth re-examining.
3 The Flight of Dragons
This film was released in 1982 and had a focus on the theme as to whether science and magic can co-exist. Despite it's talented cast which included stars like John Ritter, Harry Morgan, and James Earl Jones and cools story, the film faded into obscurity. It was noted to have intelligent banter that may confuse younger audiences, but that makes it more worth re-visiting as an adult. It did have a decent audience surrogate for a kids film though, a boy from the 20th century who gets transported to the magical world.
2 Rock & Rule
Just from looking at screenshots of this film, you can tell it's going to be weird and you won't be wrong. It mixes a lot of genres together too, it's a musical science fiction fantasy movie. The plot is that a Satanic cult is going to take over the world with a rock song. To make matters even more crazy, this is set in a post-apocalyptic world full of mutant animal people.
It's the film with the least noted reception on this list. It nearly bankrupted the company that made it, Nelvana. However, it has garnered a cult following now for it's animation and music.
1 Oliver And Company
From 1988, Oliver and Company is yet another Disney movie that has been widely forgotten by even the biggest Disney fans. It's loosely based on the novel, Oliver Twist, except with dogs and a cat. Oliver being the cat. Unfortunately for Disney, it was released on the same day as The Land Before Time so it had tough competition.
While it won no awards and reviews from critics were mixed, it's a lovable film for its cute animals and characterizations. It paints a fun picture of New York, and it's a creative adaptation to the Oliver Twist story.