Disney has had great success in the world of animation and its fair share of great live action movies. On occasion Disney would mix these two styles together and when they did it resulted in some enjoyable classics. This list takes a look at the best five of them.
Honorable mention: Song of the South
James Baskett gave very natural, charming, and believable interactions with the animated world this movie provided. He portrayed emotion in a great manner that made the character of Uncle Remus believable. What prevented it from making this list was that its depiction of former slaves is rather outdated and too idealistic.
5. The Reluctant Dragon
This one is lowest on the list because the story involving the Reluctant Dragon itself isn’t all that entertaining. But as a lover of Disney animation the live action segments were enjoyable in showcasing Burbank studios and the various parts of the animation process including painting, storyboards, pencil sketches, and the like. We see a lot of the making for various classic Disney scenes and characters and it’s very interesting in how it’s explained and displayed. We get a fair share of enjoyable animated segments with Donald Duck explaining animation mechanics and photography and the first of the hilarious how-to Goofy cartoons. All in all, it’s an enjoyable live-action insight into the world of animation.
4. Mary Poppins Returns
Technically this movie (and its predecessor) only had a couple scenes mixing live action with animation. But for this movie, that scene in the Royal Doulton Bowl is easily the most memorable. Even though there’s a chase scene that causes the movie to lose focus for a bit, the hand drawn animation is beautifully and masterfully done. Even though Disney has long abandoned the style, it’s still shown they can pull it off just as effectively. The backgrounds, colors, and character designs feel as if this style never left. And the lively performances of Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda nicely synergize well with the energy of this segment.
What makes this movie so unique is that it not only utilizes live action and animation but also brings the aspects of them out through both the leads. Robert gives a dose of reality into Giselle’s life and Giselle gives a great deal of cartoon positivity into his. In parodying various Disney tropes, this movie beautifully combines these elements into this love story between the two. And it results in a very heartwarming acceptance of fantasy and reality alike.
2. Mary Poppins
This single scene of animation and live action in this movie is an icon through not only the song but also through the whimsical performances of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. And the animation has a great deal of creativity, magic, and charm with penguin waiters, a carousel ride, and a horserace. All the live action actors beautifully blend in with this scene. There is just so much life, beauty, love, and happiness in this scene that just makes even the darkest of Disney seem bright.
1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
We had never before and we never will again see something like this. Characters like Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Daffy Duck in the same scene interacting with one another is amazing even though the animation is somewhat dated. It has the perfect balance of cartoon and reality in its storytelling and shows it brilliantly through the characters and stories of Roger and Eddie. You understand Eddie’s devastation over his brother’s death and Roger’s well intentions of bringing laughter. Judge Doom’s iron fist rule over the second class toon citizens brings them a great deal of injustice yet his evil plan is downright cartoony. And Bob Hoskins gives a great deal of soul into his performance that even with the dated animation it truly feels like he’s interacting with Roger. Just the fact that this movie is driven so much on interactions between humans and toons and how easily something like this could have worn down in a matter of minutes make this a wonderful experience through and through.
Are there any other movies that should have made the list? Any you agree or disagree with? Well leave them in the comments below.