The princess line is one of Disney’s most successful franchises, but not all Disney Princess films are created equal. So far we’ve covered the top four and mid-tier films, and now it’s time to roll out the bottom five.
“Bottom five” sounds harsher than I intend. Disney Princess films as a whole compose an incredible collection of movies, and there are hardly any “bad” installments in the bunch. For most of the remaining five films, the fact that they are ranked this low is more a testament to the quality of the franchise than anything else.
For the last time, let’s dive right into the Disney Princess movie rankings.
9. Sleeping Beauty
Cinderella gave us an excellent lead character with very little plot. Nine years later, Sleeping Beauty gave us pretty much the opposite. A lot happens, but the princess is catching Z’s for much of it.
As the title implies, Princess Aurora is asleep throughout the climactic moments of the film. This fact by itself doesn’t stop Sleeping Beauty from being an entertaining and occasionally magical movie, but it certainly doesn’t help when comparing it to the other outstanding titles in the Disney Princess roster.
Though she is perhaps the most famous Disney villain, I find it hard to appreciate Maleficent in this movie. She simply does not do enough to distinguish herself from Snow White‘s evil queen (until later media appearances, that is). The good fairies are annoying and useless. In fact, unlike any other Disney Princess film, the only solid character in Sleeping Beauty is the prince. Prince Phillip is almost forced to become interesting in the movie’s second half because his co-star is down for the count.
Phillip is not the only redeeming quality. The soundtrack, while not exceptionally deep, produced one of the best Disney songs of all time, as well as one of my favorite “love at first sight” scenes. In fact, when I rewatch that scene, I marvel that I rank this film in the bottom five. Yet, when I remind myself of all the films above it, I cannot change my mind.
Pocahontas‘s story isn’t exactly bad, but I easily grow tired of the Romeo and Juliet style of love story that gets reused far too often. It doesn’t help that John Smith’s character is about as bland as his name.
Pocahontas covers some good themes. Its presentation of ethnocentric colonial thinking is pretty solid, if a little on the nose. The environmentalist overtones, while admirable, resulted in several sequences and effects that are a little too trippy for my taste.
Pocahontas herself is a commendable person, even if she consults a tree for love advice. Her main song is absolutely stellar. All in all, however, her story and development were just average for me when compared to the majority of the Disney Princess lineup.
11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
I know Snow White holds an extremely important place in movie history, and I know many people were dazzled and charmed by it. I respect Snow White, but I still can’t stand it.
Snow White is way too young and immature to be featured in a love story, which is good because she’s hardly actually featured at all. Much like Cinderella later, everything is done for her. The Huntsman, animals, dwarves, and the prince do all the heavy lifting. In fact, the only time Snow White herself moves the plot along is when she makes a terrible decision and eats a random hag’s apple. Then, just like Aurora after her, she spends the climax of the movie dead to the world.
Unlike Cinderella and Aurora, Snow White has very few redeeming qualities to offset these shortcomings. Her singing, while iconic, is an annoying warble that I simply cannot stomach. She makes friends by doing chores.
Parts of the story simply do not make sense. Why does the evil queen use a poisoned apple with a true-love’s-kiss escape clause? As a queen, surely she had access to some regular poison. At least Aurora’s sleep could only be broken by true love’s kiss because of the efforts of a good fairy. Snow White was given that advantage by her enemy for no reason.
Most of these shortcomings and more can be explained by Snow White‘s release year of 1938. Filmmakers and audiences saw the world in a much different way. They saw women in a different way. Modern audiences have much more experience with the cinema medium than audiences did then. Snow White was great for its time, but it’s nigh unwatchable for me now.
12. The Princess and the Frog
I have lived in Louisiana for most of my life, and I still do not like this movie.
There are actually several good elements to The Princess and the Frog. Tiana is a quality character, or at least she starts that way. Her main song “Almost There” is a shining performance in an otherwise lackluster soundtrack. The villain, Dr. Facilier, is wonderfully different from other Disney antagonists, consorting with spirits in a genuinely disturbing fashion.
The crux of my complaints with this film comes from the main themes and storyline. Tiana is already a hardworking dream-chaser at the beginning of the movie, but the strange plot slowly drives her away from her original admirable goals. When she meets with Mama Odie, the Jiminy Cricket of the story, Odie basically tells her that romantic love should be valued above her personal goals. This enjoyable review video sums it up best: “Your dream ain’t important; marry this frog, child!!”
In my opinion, Tiana was better off as a character before any of the film’s events happen to her. Disney took a likable character and dragged her through a strange backwoods bayou adventure in which she’s a frog most of the time and learns absolutely nothing of value. Also, the prince and side characters are almost unlikable.
Brave is the only Disney Princess film that I would actually call a bad movie. The leading lady is a brat of a teenager who takes her problems out on her mother for no reason. The plot relies on some strange logic. The main conflict centers on a broken mother/daughter relationship, but the writers brilliantly make the mother incapable of speech for more than half of the film, including the resolution. Smart move.
As a Pixar film, Brave is pretty great from a visual standpoint. But being a Pixar film also comes with its share of downsides when compared to the Disney Princess roster. When some other Disney Princess movies are short on plot, they can alleviate this problem with incredible musical numbers. Brave, on the other hand, is not a musical, so the lackluster storyline has nothing to hide behind.
I’ve tried to rewatch Brave several times since I saw it in theaters, but I can never bring myself to finish it. The dinner scene in which one of the triplet sons mimics his father (for all of seven seconds) is the only moment that brings me any genuine pleasure as a viewer.
Note: I am not going to give Brave a grade for music. I realize it still has a score, but I’ve been focusing my grading on the musical numbers thus far. Apples and oranges.
The Disney Princess film rankings are finally over! Again, remember to check out part one and part two.
What did you think? As always, let us know your opinions of the list here in the comments or on any of our social media platforms.
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