The Top Five Top Five Animated Movie Lists for Quarantine 2021
God Help Me I'm So Bored I Could Die
Even if vaccines are starting to be distributed, and the end is in sight, we probably won't be able to go back into theaters until next summer. Which means Quarantine 2021 is upon us. I imagine that like myself, most of you are just about exhausted of all potential viewing content, starved for new material: tired of just watching whatever pops up on “autoplay” on YouTube, starting and failing to finish the Wire for the third time since March, feeling guilty about enjoying Tiger King, yet still thirsty for updates on Carol Baskin's murder case... Have no fear! Here’s a TOP FIVE list of the TOP FIVE ANIMATED MOVIE LISTS FOR QUARANTINE 2021!
All the Films You Never Knew You Had the Time To Watch
Most of these films aren’t ones you can just run into on Netflix. These gems are either old as the hills, or so unpopular that no one wants to license them for streaming. Most you can probably find on YouTube, if not in horrible rips then for $4/pop. Or you can find them the old-fashioned way by cracking open ye olde utorrent and copy pasting these hot titles into the search bar of your favorite torrent search site. Yify approved!
5. But What If I Was In Paris?
Since we can’t even leave our homes right now, I figured I’d offer an escapism-themed TOP FIVE ANIMATED FILMS that take place in Paris, the most notoriously charming metropolitan city in the world. Like Paris, these films are cheesy, quirky, and very French.
5. A CAT IN PARIS
Like simple butter on a baguette, while this film is rather uncomplicated and some may find it boring, it is a comfort food. This film follows a clever cat who teams up with a jewel thief, gliding over the rooftops of Paris in a colored pencil-etched reverie!
4. A MONSTER IN PARIS
Starring Sean Lennon as well as French model Vanessa Paradis, this is a monster-meets-girl love story set to an amazing musical soundtrack that will sweep you off your feet and up the Eiffel tower!
3. APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD
This steampunk epic is based on a series of comics by Jacques Tardi, taking place in alternate universe Paris where steam power still rules! Lots of hijinks, kooky science, and a talking cat round out this sci-fi romp.
2. I LOST MY BODY
Penned by the team who brought us another Parisian classic Amelie, this surreal film follows a disembodied hand searching for his body across Paris. While the stalker plot is meh, the rest is actually rather deep. I definitely cried a little, so watch out! (cw death, violence, sui)
1. THE OLD LADY AND THE PIDGEONS
This is probably the most disturbing animated short I’ve ever seen in my life, made by the creators of The Triplets of Belleville, of course. Kind of like Hansel and Gretel but with more accordion, don’t miss this bizarre-o film set in whimsical Par-ee!
4. Sequels You Love to Hate
A sadly underrated genre of animated film is that of the SEQUEL! Everyone has that one dusty, obscure VHS tape that somehow is still a family favorite. Dive face-first into regression and ask yourself: Who made this?? Wait, they made more of these? Why do I love this hot wet garbage?!
5. CINDERELLA 3: A TWIST IN TIME
If you look at the animation in this and think “Wow why does this look like a meme from 2007?” it’s because it was made in 2007. Why Cinderella needed a time-travel sequel I’ll never know, but if the shoe fits...
4. HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION
Something about Adam Sandler doing a Count Dracula impression just never gets old. And, just like a vampire, neither does this franchise! A modern miracle of late-stage capitalism, topped off with a kraken's ode to the Macarena.
3. MADAGASCAR 2: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA
The title says it all! Marty and the gang team up once again to escape - that’s right - 2 Africa to rediscover their, uhmm, roots. Everything about this film is horrible and amazing.
2. LION KING 1 1/2
Have you ever wanted to see the Lion King from the perspective of Timon and Pumbaa? Me neither! This film reads like an episode of Mystery Science Theater written by Larry David, and is probably 75% ad-libbed.
1. ALADDIN AND THE KING OF THIEVES
Gotta love seeing the absentee father slash legendary thief slash budget Sean Connery Hakim crash Jasmine and Aladdin’s wedding and derail this movie in the first act. Iconic. KoT has loads of memorable songs and mind-boggling in-universe lore! Join Aladdin et al on their search for his father’s approval- I MEAN, the Hand of Midas.
3. Fever Dreams
Gotta love a good dose of nightmare fuel. From singing, dancing waves of anthropomorphized cacti, to an owl that looks like he’d tear your eyes out with his beak, these films will wrench you away from the insanity of your twitter feed to make you loudly exclaim, “What in the $%&# did I just watch?”
5. THE THREE CABALLEROS
One from the Disney Vault that seriously does not feel real. Teetering on the fine line between education and appropriation, scenes range from ridiculous and madcap to downright bizarre. Yet somehow I still know all of the song lyrics by heart…
4. FLIGHT OF DRAGONS
Sister-film to The Last Unicorn, but somehow even more absurd, Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass turn it up to 11 with this sword and sorcery tale featuring a dastardly James Earl Jones as the star-spangled villain, the Red Wizard Ommadon.
3. TIME MASTERS
Directed by renowned French kook Rene Laloux (Fantastic Planet, Gandahar) and drawn by esoteric cartoonist Moebius, this film is reeeeeeally out there. I would warn against doing any substances and watching this, because the film itself will get you high.
2. SECRET OF NIMH
Oh you thought the book was scary as a kid? Think again, dear reader! The contrast between the adorable Mrs. Brisby and her harrowing surroundings is enough to make you wish that, like the rodents, you had never achieved sentience.
1. THE THIEF AND THE COBBLER
The famed MC Escher-inspired film that was never finished, bought by Disney and clearly plundered to make Aladdin, The Thief and the Cobbler is a wild, untamed beast of a film. Here you can watch the "recobbled" cut, and follow the romance of Princess Yum Yum and Tack, a pitiable cobbler, as well as the ongoing conflict between Zig-Zag the Grand Vizier and the inimitable One Eye, who both aim to control "The Golden Balls of Baghdad" (no, I'm not joking).
2. Eat the Rich
Even if everything is completely going to crap right now, there is a certain genre of feel-good animated films that were most certainly written and storyboarded by some flavor of Marxists that can cheer you up about our ideal potential future after COVID: liberation from capitalism! Themes range from that of animal liberation, ecofeminism, the dangers of fracking, and even the evils of poaching in these films where - unlike real life - all’s well that ends well! Even if we feel powerless in lockdown in the face of this crumbling political landscape, these films will help you imagine new futures through the magic of animation.
This one’s a bit of an outlier since I can’t believe that Abraham de Lacy Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley is a class traitor! However, Comrade Edgar was right: get rid of the cats and redistribute the old lady’s wealth.
4. RESCUERS DOWN UNDER
Kids and animals team up in this animated adventure to stop the evil poacher McLeach, who apparently will shoot anything that moves and is a walking stereotype of toxic white masculinity complete with a sinister drawl and loaded rifle.
3. ONCE UPON A FOREST
A team of furry friends fight for the rights of their fellow forest-dwellers, victims of the environmental impact of human industry. Arguably also a fever dream contender. 10/10 if want to inspire your kids to take a stand for the environment against bloated politicians.
2. CHICKEN RUN
Lead organizer Ginger works to liberate her fellow chickens from their capitalist overlords, the Tweedys. (Thankfully pushing aside Mel Gibson’s turdly rooster character and doing it herself, dangit!) If you like the Aardman's claymation work on Wallace and Gromit and dream to overthrow your boss in a staged revolt, this one's a must.
1. FERN GULLY
The film that cast Tim Curry as the personification of the evils of the oil industry, and critiqued animal testing using a rapping bat played by Robin Williams, all using the power of SONG! Also a contender for nightmare fuel, but bonus points for cottagecore/tinyhome fans for its fairy stuff, like using buttercups as umbrellas and living in acorn houses.
1. A Good Cry
Sometimes, when things are so messed up and you don’t know how to deal, you need to just sit down and cry. Sometimes, for an hour and thirty minutes. These films are that kind of movie to the point that if you don’t cry watching these, either your eyes are broken or you’re a complete monster. Grab the tissues, fam. And a bottle of wine.
5. INSIDE OUT
While the 2nd act is a little sweaty, there isn't a dry eye in the house by the 3rd. Never doubt the importance of leaning in to your feelings and knowing how to ask for a hug.
4. CHARLOTTE’S WEB
Ahhhh mortality. You can’t take back the realization as a kid that Wilbur would’ve been eaten if not for Charlotte, the image of Wilbur screaming over Charlotte’s dead body, and the sudden understanding that all things die… Have fun with your first existential crisis, kids.
Probably most kids’ first introduction to the concept of death through film. Recognizable to all, the moment when you realize that someday, your parents just won’t be there. Dang, Disney used to go hard.
2. GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
A meditation on war from the perspective of a pair of Japanese children who survive a firebombing in WWII. The fact that this film is actually semi-autobiographical makes it even more painful to witness. I guarantee your eyes will be completely drained of all tears after you finish this one, and instead you'll be filled with the desire to end all war.
1. WATERSHIP DOWN
Is all life suffering? After weeping through the entirety of Watership Down, I would have to say yes, yes it is. As I always say, somebody’s gotta kick the dog. This movie is about being the dog.
Well, folks, hope this list inspires you to continue to not get up off of the couch! In all seriousness, this is a great time to catch up on the ol' movie list. I for one am looking forward to writing some more reviews! Soon we'll be back in theaters, if they're not all bankrupted, and we can resume Saturday Morning Cartoons once again!
Live from my couch,