Run-time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Directed by: Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise
Starring: (voices of) Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Tony Jay, Kevin Kline & Jason Alexander
For those of you who either don't know me or have yet to figure it out, I'm a bit of a Disney freak. I've been an annual pass-holder at the Disneyland Resort for the past two years, and I simply can't get enough of it. I tend to enjoy all Disney films - I have yet to find one that I absolutely hate - but The Hunchback of Notre Dame had never been one that had truly stuck strongly with me personally. However, I saw the DVD on sale for five bucks at a store a few months back, so I figured I'd grab it while I could. This was the first time I've watched the movie in its entirety since its original theatrical run, and I must say that I was rather blown away.
The first thing you're going to notice about Hunchback is that it's a little bit darker than your standard Disney fare. Yeah, Disney has delved into the dark and dreary, but there's something about this one that really sticks it home. A friend of mine called it "Phantom of the Opera meets Disney," and I'd have to agree for a couple reasons: first, it takes place in Paris; second, the characters are definitely correlational, to a degree; and third, the over-arching musical composition is entirely operatic.
Speaking of music, I have to say that in the past, none of the songs from Hunchback ever stood out to me, but having watched it again tonight, I'd have to say that some of the music is downright brilliant. While all of the music works well within the film, there are a few songs that stand above the rest: the opener ("The Bells of Notre Dame"), Quasimodo's lament for freedom ("Out There"), and Esmeralda's prayer ("God Help the Outcasts") are all fantastic compositions that should be applauded.
Despite being a little bit on the dark side, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is still a fantastic addition to the Disney franchise and definitely worth a watch. The characters aren't as memorable as other Disney films, but the story and the music are so powerful that this film ultimately succeeds.
Best Animated: #38