It feels like a lot of people consider animated movies to be designed for entire families to enjoy. That often means that they don’t have to be considered good for moviegoers to flock to them. As long as they’re easy to digest and something that everyone can appreciate, they’ll be popular.
That being said, some animated films are considered among the best movies of their generation and some are groundbreaking. However, there are some that critics didn’t like and were labeled as ‘rotten’ on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this, fans still like them just fine and gave them solid scores on IMDb.
Space Jam (1996) – RT: 44%/IMDb: 6.5
Stream On HBO Max
Technically, Space Jam is not a totally animated movie but it counts since the majority of the film is a cartoon. This was released at the perfect time as the Looney Tunes were still popular enough and Michael Jordan was a cultural icon who had just retired from basketball.
Space Jam sees the legendary cartoons team with Jordan to play a basketball game with the highest of stakes against villainous aliens. Critics weren’t too kind to the movie but it was a box office hit and kids from the ’90s still hold it in high esteem. The 2021 sequel was less positively received by fans and critics.
A Christmas Carol (2009) – RT: 53%/IMDb: 6.8
Stream On Disney+ & The Roku Channel
There have been so many adaptations of A Christmas Carol that it can be hard to keep up. Robert Zemeckis helmed an animated take on the 1843 Charles Dickens tale in 2009 that utilized CGI and motion-capture effects similar to The Polar Express.
This version starred Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge and followed mostly the same story where the cantankerous old man is taken on an adventure by three ghosts to see how his actions impact his past, present, and future. The performances and visuals were praised but critics didn’t like the dark tone. Alas, audiences appreciated it more.
Shark Tale (2004) – RT: 35%/IMDb: 6.0
Stream On Peacock
In 2003, Finding Nemo was both a critical and commercial hit, going down as one of Pixar’s best films. A year later, DreamWorks Animation took a stab at a story set in the ocean with Shark Tale and things didn’t go nearly as well even though it did prove to be a box office success.
With a voice cast including Will Smith and Angelina Jolie, Shark Tale had the star power to bring in audiences and it was also actually up for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. However, reviews found it to be derivative and though it scored better on IMDb, it’s often a forgotten animated film.
The Star (2017) – RT: 43%/IMDb: 6.3
Stream On FXNow
Until the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it seemed like Sony Pictures Animation was a struggling studio. Their movies often got mixed reviews and weren’t box office hits, including The Star, which was released a year before the studio had its breakout hit.
The Star tells the story of how a donkey and his fellow animal friends unexpectedly become heroes during the first-ever Christmas. Fans seemed to like the offbeat look at the nativity story and while the reviews from critics weren’t strong, the film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Brother Bear (2003) – RT: 37%/IMDb: 6.8
Stream On Disney+
Following the Disney Renaissance Era of the ’90s, the early 2000s proved to be a bit of a rough patch for the animation studio. Their films were met with mixed reviews after several years of classics. Brother Bear was one to get lackluster reviews from critics.
The story centers on a hunter who needlessly kills a bear and is then transformed into one, sending him on a journey of self-discovery if he wants to be human again. The animation style was seen as unimpressive and it was considered generic in some ways. Audiences did seem to like some of the stylistic choices like the changing aspect ratio.
Madagascar (2005) – RT: 55%/IMDb: 6.9
Rent On Vudu
Every once in a while, an original animated picture manages to break out into a huge hit and spawns a franchise, which is the case with Madagascar. The plot focuses on a lion, giraffe, zebra, and hippo who escape Central Park Zoo and end up on the island of Madagascar.
Though better than half of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were positive, it is still considered ‘rotten.’ That wasn’t the case with fans, who adored the impressive visuals and lovable voice cast. The franchise includes several sequels, TV shows, video games, and short films.
Ice Age: Collision Course (2016) – RT: 18%/IMDb: 5.7
Stream On Disney+
The Ice Age franchise is the tentpole for Blue Sky Studios. The movies became so big that the third and fourth entries in the series each grossed more than $800 million at the box office, so making a fifth installment was obvious. Unfortunately, Ice Age: Collision Course was when things started to cool off.
It grossed less than half of the previous film though the folks who saw it still found it to be at least an average film. The critics were much harsher, giving it the worst reviews of the series and lambasting it for feeling like a cash grab and nothing more.
Robin Hood (1973) – RT: 55%/IMDb: 7.5
Stream On Disney+
A lot of Disney Animation Studios classics were released between the ’50s and ’60s including Cinderella and The Jungle Book. The ’70s weren’t as successful, with the likes of The Aristocats and Robin Hood not being held in the same high esteem.
However, they’re actually kind of hidden gems that have improved over the years. The quotable Robin Hood got mixed reviews but it developed a cult following to the point where the rating on IMDb is actually higher than some of the Disney movies perceived as being iconic like Peter Pan or the aforementioned Cinderella.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) – RT: 49%/IMDb: 6.9
Stream On Disney+
Another release from Disney Animation Studios to struggle was Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Following the Renaissance Era, Disney experimented with new things in their next batch of films including breaking the fourth wall in The Emperor’s New Groove or CGI effects in Dinosaur.
This was the studio’s first sci-fi film, telling the story of a group of explorers who set out to find the lost continent of Atlantis. Reviews dissed the character development and said the plot was incoherent but casual moviegoers enjoyed the more adult-themed storyline and were impressed by the visuals and voice acting.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) – RT: 18%/IMDb: 6.0
Stream On Disney+
This is often the forgotten entry into the massive Star Wars film franchise. Released a few years after the ending of the prequel trilogy, The Clone Wars was meant to fill in some gaps about the adventures of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in between Episodes II and III.
The film received negative reviews, with criticisms being lobbed at the animation style and storyline, while some felt the new character Ahsoka Tano was annoying. Of course, this doubled as a backdoor pilot to The Clone Wars TV show, which is considered some of the best Star Wars content ever. Ahsoka is also now a hugely popular character, so fans look back at this with a newfound fondness.
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