We are in the midst of what I and many others like to call a Disney revival or second renaissance and as a Disney fan it is awesome! I am referring to the recent run of amazing films the Disney Animation Studios has pumped out since 2010’s Tangled up till last year’s Moana. They have consistently produced some of the best animated movies of the last decade something we haven’t seen since their first renaissance of the 90’s. It was a pretty dark time for Disney Animation Studios ever since Tarzan the quality of movies went off the deep end with classics like Brother Bear, Chicken Little and finally coming to an end with Open Range. It’s ok if you’ve never heard of these because Disney knew they had piles of poop and didn’t really market them.
The transition happened when Disney officially acquired Pixar and made John Lasseter the head of all Disney Animation and he brought with him from Pixar the heartfelt emotional character driven story telling that made Pixar so incredible. The reason this last batch of movies have become so amazing with fans and critics I feel is that they dive deeper into more mature themes that both kids and adults can appreciate and relate to. I’m a sucker for emotional character moments because most of the time I see a lot of myself in these moments or see what I want to become. So here are my top favorite emotional moments from the recent Disney revival (FYI most of the scenes I’m going to talk about are major spoilers for each movie so before reading this go out watch these movies because they are all amazing!)
5. Zootopia – Judy’s Speech
There’s a moment in Zootopia that hit me harder, which was the flashback of Nick getting bullied and muzzled by his scout “friends”. While that scene affected me more emotionally I felt like the speech given by Judy about how everyone should strive to try and make the world a better place had a much more lasting impact on me. This stuck with me given that her message is even more important than ever given our current real life issues. The whole movie’s theme was of acceptance and this scene was a great summary of this and good social commentary on our current real life situation. I loved how hopeful this speech made me feel which is why it’s number 5 on my list!
4. Tangled – I See the Light
My god, this scene is beautiful figuratively and visually with all the lanterns surrounding them with the music. The moment Rapunzel and Flynn (Eugene) fall in love with each other. This is also the moment she finally gets to see the lantern ceremony she’s dreamed of her entire life in person. The pure joy you see in her face along with the loving way Flynn looks at her fills you up with the warm fuzzies and hits you right in the feels. I See the Light is also one of my favorite Disney romance songs and is on par with A Whole New World!
3. Wreck it Ralph – I’m Bad and That’s Good
Wreck it Ralph in general was surprising how good it was but this scene was great! Seeing Ralph finally coming to terms with who he is and accepting that. Watching Ralph sacrifice himself to save Vanellope and the Sugar Rush game shows that even though he is seen as a bad guy who wrecks stuff he realizes that inside if he knows he’s a good guy then it doesn’t matter whether he has the medal of honor or the title of a “good guy.” The message that we are all flawed in many ways but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and learning to accept who we are, flaws and all is a good thing that resonated with me a great deal.
2. Big Hero 6 – Tadashi is Here
This scene is probably one of the saddest moments in the movie but one I really loved because it shows how much heart Big Hero 6 has. Watching Hiro at his lowest moment filled with rage, vengeance and confusion over the revelation that his brother Tadashi was essentially betrayed and died for no reason is incredibly sad. Then Baymax and by extension Tadashi helps him by showing him Tadashi’s research video journals that Tadashi is still here as long as his memory and his ideals are kept alive by Hiro and Baymax. I will freely admit this scene made me tear up because it’s done so beautifully taking an incredibly sad moment and injecting it with hope in dealing with loss and grief as well as defining the hero that Hiro becomes.
1. Moana – I am Moana
This is easily the best moment in the recent Disney revival, like head and shoulders above the other four I’ve listed here. I can’t tell you the chills and swell of inspiration I get from this scene! Moana is on the verge of giving up and going home when the spirit of her grandmother appears to console her. She sings to her that there’s nothing wrong if she wants to return home but one last time tries to remind her who she is. The best part about this scene for me is the music when she remembers who she is and why she left home. The way the music swells when she jumps back into the ocean to retrieve the Heart of the Ocean. It’s impossible not to get goosebumps and inspired. Check out my full review here.
There you have it, my favorite moments from the latest Disney animation resurgence movies. Whenever a Disney movie is released I look forward to these emotionally resonant moments. I for one am really glad that Disney got their crap together and started making not just good movies again but great ones! I grew up watching the amazing Disney Renaissance movies it really sucked for a good ten years we got pretty much crap so seeing them get back to form with entertaining movies that have great messages and heart! So what are some of your favorite Disney moments?