You KNOW you grew up in the ’90s if you remember eating Dunkaroos and drinking Hi-C while watching Ariel and Flounder scheme and desperately trying to ignore your parents’ fight about whose fault it is that they didn’t invest in tech stocks sooner! Here are the movies that made us laugh and cry, that made us want to find our princes and princesses, and most of all, that really helped us to cope with Dad’s refusal to see a therapist for his anxiety disorder.
1. The Rescuers Down Under
Wow, remember this one? This was Disney’s first animated film of the ’90s, a decade wherein they became the reigning kings of cartoons. This one wasn’t as much of a hit as the ones that followed, but you loved Bianca and Bernard, so you caught onto the trend early—after all, the only thing more stressful than fighting an evil poacher is having a dad who worked in the Department of Defense during Desert Storm! Turn up the volume, this movie’s great! No, really—please turn up the volume.
2. Beauty and the Beast
An instant classic, Beauty and the Beast was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture in 1992, and took home the Oscar for Best Original Score! With its beautiful melodies, clever lyrics, and strong voices, you won’t want to stop listening to these songs—especially when the alternative is listening to your parents argue about whether they could afford to enroll you in a pricier preschool to mitigate their fears about the Satanic Panic. Fortunately, the soothing songs in Beauty and the Beast provide a great escape. You can even pretend Mrs. Potts is your mom! She’d never put you in four different preschools over the course of a year!
Building upon the success of Beauty and the Beast, Disney released another enchanting princess tale with Aladdin! The story of a bored princess and a scrappy, tenacious street urchin, Aladdin’s got something for everyone. After all, what little girl WOULDN’T want to feel like a princess instead of feeling like Mommy and Daddy’s little tax shelter as they fight over who gets primary custody in the divorce? What little boy WOULDN’T want to feel like a brave and resourceful hero instead of an expensive liability in a housing market where two-bedroom apartments are almost impossible to afford (Or at least, that’s what Dad tells Mom when he accuses her of intentionally forgetting to take the pill!)? Let’s watch Aladdin again; it’s refreshing to see a whole entire movie where no one talks about inflation!
4. The Lion King
With its heartfelt tale of love and loss in the Serengeti, The Lion King was both a moving story AND a beautifully animated feast for the eyes. And given that Mom has been on the Atkins diet for six months now, the eyes are the only body parts in your household that are getting a feast! As Dad oscillates between begging and demanding that Mom give him bread, you can lose yourself in the tale of a plucky lion and his devoted friends. Man. The grubs they’re eating look really tasty. Mmmm.
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame charmed audiences with its clever dialogue, soaring music, and beautiful lesson about acceptance and love—a lesson your parents apparently didn’t learn when they couldn’t forgive each other for voting for different candidates in the 1996 election. While The Hunchback of Notre Dame may have been one of Disney’s darkest animated movies, your house got a whole lot darker after Clinton took the White House. Mom just can’t forgive Dad for voting for him, but Dad says he’d rather have one million creepy saxophone players in the White House than one creepy senator who refers to himself in third person. Bob Dole says Bob Dole just can’t catch a break! Thankfully, with the help of good ol’ Walt Disney, you can.
Gwen Lawson loves all Disney movies. The louder the better.
Image by Leonid Mamchenkov