Popular animated movies from the 90s include The Prince of Egypt, Anastasia, Toy Story, The Iron Giant, Rock-A-Doodle and We’re Back!
The 90s were a golden age for animated movies. Disney was at the forefront, leading a wave of animated classics that jostled for cinematic preeminence. Thanks to VHS, 90s kids could replay their favorite animated tales endlessly, often to their parents’ mild annoyance.
As time passed, while some of these films remained etched in memory, others faded, though not due to any lack of quality. These lesser-celebrated gems were just as captivating as their more famous counterparts in those VHS stacks.
90s Animated Movies
The 90s were a groundbreaking period for animation. The emergence of computer animation and the evolution of storytelling techniques brought to life a series of iconic films that remain beloved to this day.
Let’s take a nostalgic journey back to some of the standout animated films from the 90s and appreciate their enduring appeal.
30The Pagemaster (1994)
“The Pagemaster” is, in my eyes, a delightful movie that deserves more attention. There are many films out there with higher ratings that don’t measure up to its charm. While it might not be a Disney production, it’s a heartwarming family film that, given a chance, is sure to captivate every member of the household.
The animation might feel a bit outdated or hurried, but there have been worse. And the depiction of the dragon? Simply outstanding. James Horner’s musical score beautifully complements the film’s scenes, evoking memories of “Land Before Time” and “Once Upon a Forest.”
29Oliver & Company (1988)
While technically an 80s release, its influence stretched well into the 90s. A retelling of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, but with a feline protagonist in New York City, this movie boasted catchy tunes and an array of colorful characters, cementing its place in the hearts of many.
Stepping away from the typical fairy-tale narrative, Anastasia blends historical events with fantasy. Chronicling the journey of the lost Russian princess, this movie is a visual and musical delight, with hits like “Once Upon a December” transporting audiences to a bygone era filled with romance and mystery.
27The Pebble and the Penguin (1995)
A musical adventure produced by Don Bluth, this movie traces the journey of a shy penguin named Hubie as he vies for the affection of the beautiful Marina. Battling the odds, predators, and a villainous rival, Hubie’s tale is a heartwarming narrative about perseverance and true love.
26Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
Though a live-action and CGI mix, it’s impossible to exclude the charming sequel about Babe, the gallant little pig. As Babe ventures into the metropolis, this film offers a deeper, more complex narrative, making it a must-watch for fans of old cartoon movies from the 90s.
25The Thief and the Cobbler (1993)
In the mid-90s, I stumbled upon this film on TV and was instantly drawn to it. It was only in the early 2000s that I became aware of its tumultuous and poignant backstory.
“The Thief & Cobbler” or “Arabian Knights” is set in an imagined desert realm. At its heart is a narrative about Tack, a mostly mute cobbler, and a silent thief. The kingdom they inhabit is safeguarded by three golden orbs. The legend goes that calamity would ensue if these orbs were ever taken and ended up with adversaries.
24The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot (1998)
Set in the legendary world of Camelot, this movie features a young heroine named Kayley who dreams of becoming a knight just like her late father. An enchanting musical journey of bravery, romance, and magic, it’s filled with memorable characters and lessons about finding one’s own path.
23The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
This thrilling sequel took Bernard and Miss Bianca on an adventure to the Australian Outback. With its soaring visuals, especially the breathtaking flight sequences, this movie showcased the best of 90s Disney animation, blending heartfelt stories with action-packed sequences.
22Cats Don’t Dance (1997)
A lighthearted jab at the glitz and struggles of Hollywood, Cats Don’t Dance tells the story of Danny, a cat with big dreams to become a movie star.
Battling the odds and industry stereotypes, the film is both a toe-tapping musical and a nod to dreamers everywhere. For those who adore old cartoon movies from the 90s, this is an underappreciated gem.
21Doug’s 1st Movie (1999)
Emerging from the popular TV series, this film brings the quiet, imaginative life of Doug Funnie and his friends to the big screen. Facing environmental issues, mythical monsters, and teenage crushes, it’s a slice-of-life tale that many 90s kids could relate to.
20A Troll in Central Park (1994)
From the famed Don Bluth studios, this tale centers on Stanley, a kind-hearted troll with a green thumb, banished to New York City’s Central Park. In a concrete jungle, Stanley’s love for plants and his magical green thumb brings joy to two kids, Rosie and Gus. This heartwarming narrative underscores the power of nature, imagination, and friendship.
This whimsical fusion of live-action and animation dives into the tale of a rooster named Chanticleer whose crowing supposedly raises the sun. A mix of fantasy, music, and comedy, Rock-A-Doodle offers an entertaining spin on the “Chanticleer and the Fox” fable, and stands out among 90s animated fantasy movies for its unique premise and presentation.
18Rugrats Movie (1998)
Expanding the beloved TV series onto the big screen, the Rugrats Movie plunged our favorite toddlers into a wild adventure. Whether you were a kid or an adult in the 90s, the shenanigans of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and baby Dil never ceased to amuse. It’s a testament to the charm and appeal of 90s cartoon movies that a simple story of babies lost in the woods could capture the audience’s imagination.
17All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996)
Building on the success of the original, this sequel continues the heavenly adventures of Charlie and his friends. While touching upon themes of redemption and friendship, the film is also a rollicking adventure with catchy musical numbers, making it a memorable addition to 1990s animated movies.
16Quest for Camelot (1998)
Warner Bros’ foray into the animated musical scene, Quest for Camelot, blended Arthurian legends with 90s charm. Following Kayley, the headstrong daughter of a fallen knight, and the blind hermit Garrett, it’s a tale of bravery, unity, and perseverance. With catchy tunes like “The Prayer” and an empowering message, this movie is a standout among animated movies in the 1990s.
15The Tune (1992)
Bill Plympton deserves commendation. While he might not have achieved the commercial stature of Walt Disney, Matt Groening, or Seth MacFarlane, he has consistently produced a myriad of unique animated shorts and several full-length films.
In an era where 3D animation reigns supreme, Plympton’s style might appear old-school. Yet, there’s an inherent admiration for him, knowing he hand-drew over 90% of the frames for “The Tune” personally.
14The Swan Princess (1994)
Adapting the timeless tale of Swan Lake into an animated narrative, The Swan Princess spins a web of romance, betrayal, and transformation. Odette’s grace, both as a princess and a swan, coupled with memorable songs, make it a cherished romantic fantasy of the 90s.
13We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993)
This film was a childhood gem for me. It encapsulated everything that made 90s kids‘ movies magical: adorable dinosaurs, charming youngsters, a quirky antagonist, and a collection of unforgettable tunes. These weren’t your usual “Little Mermaid” or “Beauty and the Beast” numbers but genuinely entertaining melodies!
Stumbling upon it recently, my affection for it remains undiminished. I genuinely believe people of all ages should give it a watch and introduce it to the new generation. Apologies for the brief review; I’m pressed for time.
But trust me, dismissing this movie might just be snuffing out your inner kid!
Based on a true story, Balto stands out among 1990s cartoon movies for its blend of history and heroism. Balto, a Siberian husky-wolf mix, embarks on a perilous journey to save the children of Nome, Alaska, from a diphtheria outbreak. It’s a tale of determination, courage, and the fight against prejudices, showcasing that heroes can emerge from the most unexpected places.
11James and the Giant Peach (1996)
Roald Dahl’s eccentric tale was brought to life through a unique mix of live-action and stop-motion animation. This 90s animated fantasy movie revolves around James’ escape from his cruel aunts aboard a magical giant peach, meeting a quirky ensemble of anthropomorphic bugs.
It’s a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and the quest for family, embellished with a whimsical charm that’s distinctively Dahl.
10Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Growing up, superhero aficionados like me were spoiled with a plethora of fantastic animated shows, and “Batman: The Animated Series” was undoubtedly one of the cream of the crop. Merging intense action, a sleek art design, and mature storylines, the series catered to both adults and youngsters alike. “Mask of the Phantasm” is an extension of this remarkable series, which explains why I hold it dear even after all this time.
What sets “Phantasm” apart is its fusion of the show’s signature themes with a poignant love narrative and the intricate detective intricacies intrinsic to Batman’s most compelling stories.
9The Land Before Time (1988 – sequels in the 90s)
Although the original movie premiered in the late 80s, its myriad sequels dominated the 90s. These films offered young viewers an adventurous foray into prehistoric times.
Following a group of young dinosaurs seeking the Great Valley after being separated from their families, these movies touch upon friendship, loss, and perseverance themes. While targeted at children, the heartwarming tales and the struggles of Littlefoot and his friends echo universally.
8FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
Before environmental-themed movies became mainstream, FernGully championed the cause. Set in an enchanted rainforest on the brink of destruction by humans, this animated marvel seamlessly blends action, fantasy, and a potent message about nature preservation.
With the spirited fairy Crysta, the transformed human Zak, and the comical bat Batty (voiced by Robin Williams), the movie remains an entertaining yet poignant call for environmental awareness among old cartoon movies 90s.
7The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton’s visually stunning stop-motion masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas, defies traditional genre labels. Blending the eerie allure of Halloween with the festive spirit of Christmas, this film offers a twisted, enchanting tale of Jack Skellington’s quest for meaning.
Among 90s animated fantasy movies, it holds a special place, with its darkly whimsical visuals and unforgettable songs like “This Is Halloween” and “What’s This?”.
6Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)
Stepping out from the world-famous game and TV series, Pokémon made a grand cinematic entry with this film. Following the tragic tale of the cloned Pokémon, Mewtwo, and his existential crisis, this movie wasn’t just about Pokémon battles.
Instead, it delved deep into the themes of identity, purpose, and the essence of life, making it a standout among 1990s animated movies for its mature narrative.
Among the impressive roster of 90s Disney animated movies, Pocahontas stands tall as a poignant tale of love, understanding, and bridging cultural divides. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the New World, this film presents a narrative not just of romance, but of two civilizations colliding.
The titular character, Pocahontas, embodies strength, wisdom, and a deep connection with nature. In an age of animated movies in the 90s dominated by fictional tales, Pocahontas daringly chooses a historical backdrop, adding depth to its narrative.
4The Iron Giant (1999)
A touching tale of friendship set against the canvas of the Cold War, The Iron Giant delves deep into the themes of fear, acceptance, and understanding.
This movie challenges perceptions, urging viewers to look beyond appearances and stereotypes. As the bond between the young boy Hogarth and the colossal robot unfolds, it’s a testament to the timeless adage that friendships know no bounds.
3Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Beyond the captivating animations and the timeless love story, Beauty and the Beast stands out for its profound message. This 170-minute tale (including its musical sequences) redefines beauty, urging viewers to look beyond the external.
Belle is not just a prisoner-turned-lover; she’s an emblem of independence and intellect in the world of 90s animated fantasy movies. The Beast, underneath his fearsome appearance, is a gentle soul yearning for acceptance. Their unconventional romance, set amidst hauntingly beautiful musical tracks, still resonates today.
Aladdin doesn’t just represent the magic of animated movies in the 90s; it epitomizes it. The vibrant city of Agrabah, with its bustling marketplaces and mysterious caves, forms the perfect backdrop for this enchanting tale.
Aladdin, a street-smart young man, is a symbol of dreams and aspirations, while Jasmine represents breaking away from shackles. And of course, Robin Williams’ Genie – a character so full of charisma and humor that he often steals the show. The film masterfully blends love, mischief, and adventure, making it an unmissable journey for all.
1The Lion King (1994)
Arguably the crown jewel of 90s Disney animated movies, The Lion King is more than just an animated feature; it’s an emotional odyssey. As we journey through the African savannah, we’re entangled in a web of love, betrayal, and the essence of life itself.
The intricate storyline, paired with mesmerizing soundtracks like “Hakuna Matata” and “Circle of Life”, sets it apart. It’s a tale that illustrates the trials of growing up, the weight of responsibility, and the need for self-acceptance. For anyone thinking of 90s cartoon movies, this masterpiece is often the first that springs to mind.