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The 10 Best Non-Disney Animated Musicals

For all of us tired of watching The Lion King or Frozen for the hundredth time....this week...

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Are you feeling a bit nostalgic, but want something different at the same time? Here's the perfect list for you! Including some of your favorites as well as some REALLY obscure options, settle in, warm up those vocal chords, and lets begin!

10. The Pebble and the Penguin

Summary:

In this animated tale set in the South Pole, bashful, awkward penguin Hubie (Martin Short) pines for the beautiful Marina (Annie Golden), but the bullying Drake (Tim Curry) also has an eye on her. When Hubie finds an impressive pebble to present to Marina, Drake causes Hubie to get caught in a fishing net and sent off far from his native beach. With the help of his energetic new friend, Rocko (James Belushi), Hubie sets off on a treacherous trip back home to win the heart of his beloved. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

The voice cast in this one is really all star quality, and with songs by Barry Manilow you just can't go wrong.

Why it's not awesome:

The art style is not the prettiest, and is already beginning to look aged. Also, while the voice cast is amazing their singing voices are not as remarkable as some of the others on this list (except for our Lord and Savior Tim Curry, please forgive us!!). Finally, the plot itself is a little weak, but it was pretty much blatantly ripped off in "Happy Feet" so I guess they had something there.

Favorite scene/song

There are a couple of really good songs in here including "Now and Forever" and "Sometimes I Wonder" which is included below.

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9. FernGully: The Last Rainforest

Summary:

Crysta (Samantha Mathis) is a fairy who lives in FernGully, a rainforest in Australia, and has never seen a human before. In fact, she is told they are extinct. But when a logging company comes near the rainforest, she sees that they do exist, and even accidentally shrinks one of them: a boy named Zak (Jonathan Ward) who her new friend Batty (Robin Williams), a recently escaped bat from an animal testing facility, does not trust. Now her size, Zak sees the damage that the company does and helps Crysta to stop not only them, but an evil entity named Hexxus (Tim Curry), who feeds off pollution. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

The message of this one is just aces. Between the warnings against pollution, deforestation, and animal testing you would think the film would fall on its face with so much weightiness, but it actually handles the subject matter well. Tim Curry is also back in his element in this one, playing a delightfully gross villain while Robin Williams hilariously improvs his way through the film.

Why it's not awesome:

Sometimes the plot does unfortunately get a little lost in the message they are trying to get across, and the songs in this one are unmemorable at best.

Favorite scene/song

There is some beautiful animation in the scene below that is definitely a cut above the rest of the movie. The song is called "A Dream Worth Keeping" by Sheena Easton.

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8. The Thief and the Cobbler

Summary:

An adventure set in ancient Baghdad involves a princess and a cobbler who must retrieve three magic orbs to defeat a despot and his evil magician. Voices include Matthew Broderick, Vincent Price, Jennifer Beals, Eric Bogosian, Jonathan Winters and Clive Revill. Directed by Richard Williams. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

We know. We know. Right now you are thinking, "What is this crazy looking thing and I have NEVER heard of this?" Well, get ready Aladdin lovers because we have just the movie for you. Based in basically the same setting as Aladdin, sometimes this story feels a little familiar especially when you add in Matthew Broderick's voice (also Simba in the The Lion King), but what sets it apart is the wacky and completely original artistic style that, at times, leaves you awed (and somewhat dizzy). Also, you will notice that there are a lot of different versions of this movie (it suffered in developmental hell for years and is a great Wikipedia read if you get the chance), but we HIGHLY recommend the one with Jonathan Winters voicing the aforementioned thief. Seriously best comedic presence since Robin William's Genie.

Why it's not awesome:

Sure the songs aren't great, the plot gets strained, and it is a little weird at times but it's all worth it to see an animated feature unlike any other. (Complete honesty here, this was a childhood favorite so biased as charged.)

Favorite scene/song:

Our favorite scene in this one is actually anything to do with the thief at all, but we included the song "Am I Feeling Love" below because it ain't half bad either and almost feels up to Disney caliber at times.

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7. The Last Unicorn

Summary:

In this animated musical, the villainous King Haggard (Christopher Lee) plots to destroy all the world's unicorns. When a young unicorn (Mia Farrow) learns that she's in danger and that she may soon be the last of her kind, she leaves the safety of her protected forest and enlists the help of Schmendrick (Alan Arkin), a gentle, albeit clumsy, sorcerer. Together, they embark on a long and dangerous journey with one goal: to defeat Haggard and save the unicorns from extinction. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

Besides the cast, which includes young Jeff Bridges as well, this one is maybe one of the most beautiful animated films of all time. Combining Disney, Japanese Anime, and Renaissance Tapestry Artwork it has a highly unique, and just breathtakingly gorgeous artistic style. Seriously it is STUNNING. Also the story is not your classic Happily Ever After fairy tale which is a nice breath of fresh air compared to the classic Disney fare.

Why it's not awesome:

As with Pebble and the Penguin, the singing voices are not of the highest caliber, and they try to cram a little too much plot into 84 minutes. Better to reach for the stars in our opinion.

Favorite scene/song

Every scene in this is a feast for the eyes, but one of our favorite songs is included below called "That's All I've Got to Say" which includes a beautiful reprise of "Now That I'm a Woman". (Try to listen beyond the singing voices if you can because it is actually a lovely little melody and sentiment.)

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6. The King and I

Summary:

Anna, an English schoolteacher, travels to the kingdom of Siam to teach children and finds her challenge with a stubborn king. But even as a wondrous friendship grows between Anna and the arrogant monarch, an evil sorcerer is conjuring up a plot to steal the throne. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

This movie has a leg up already as it is a retelling of the hit Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which is already an amazing musical in itself. Also the only truly significant plot change they make deals with the Prince in the film and is, dare I say it, better even than the original concept. This movie is also a great way to get kids loving Broadway early too as a bonus.

Why it's not awesome:

They added a couple of animals, characters, and character qualities in this one for comedic relief which mostly just come off as super cheesy. Also you find yourself missing some of the original content and songs from the show making you question half way through why you aren't just watching that instead.

Favorite scene/ song:

I have Dreamed is not only an amazing American musical theatre classic but one of the most beautiful love songs of all time. Here sung to perfection by both Dave Burnham and Tracy Venner Warren you really will be hard pressed to find a better version out there.

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5. Thumbelina

Summary:

Born of a flower and growing to only a couple of inches tall, poor Thumbelina (Jodi Benson) is worried she'll never meet someone her own size, until she happens to catch the eye of Prince Cornelius of the Fairies (Gary Imhoff). Just as soon as she finds love, however, it's torn away from her when she is kidnapped by Ms. Toad (Charo). Now Thumbelina has to escape Ms. Toad's grasp and search for Prince Cornelius. Luckily, there's a whole city of animals willing to help her. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

From the classic Disney animators and creators Don Bluth and Gary Goldman (who left to start their own company), this one is based off a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale has a distinct Disney flavor to it. Also Jodi Benson (Ariel from The Little Mermaid) has a classic princess voice that is just lovely in any setting.

Why it's not awesome:

Bluth and Goldman were still trying to get the formula right on this one which, without completely spoiling it for the number 1 slot, they do eventually get.

Favorite scene/song:

There are a couple of really good songs in this one but "Let Me Be Your Wings", below, is a perfect song.

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4. Cats Don't Dance

Summary:

Danny, a small city cat (Scott Bakula), is trying to break into '30s Hollywood as an actor. His only problem is that he's a cat and he can't understand why he's only getting parts playing an animal. He gets into trouble with a human star and almost sees his chance at a movie career disappear. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

What a lost gem this comedy is. Even though it is mostly light-hearted, it also has a great message about following your dreams and what you have to give up to do that. Also there are 3 to 4 dynamite songs that just kill with a hilarious and original villain unlike any you have ever seen (evil Shirley Temple... need I say more?).

Why it's not awesome:

Sometimes with the light hearted feel this one just doesn't rise above the ranks of "just for kids" into enjoyable for adults.

Favorite scene/song:

Natalie. Cole. Singing. Check it out below in, "Tell Me Lies".

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3. The Swan Princess

Summary:

The Swan Princess is an animated, musical adaption of the fairy tale, "Swan Lake." An aging king (Dakin Matthews) and a widowed queen (Sandy Duncan) arrange a marriage between his only daughter and her only son, despite the two children's initial dislike of one another. Eventually they fall in love, but the evil sorcerer Rothbart (Jack Palance), desiring the throne for himself, enchants the princess Odette (Michelle Nicastro). She is a swan by day, and becomes a woman only when the moon rises. Prince Derek (Howard McGillin) refuses to accept another bride and continues to search for his lost love and a way to break the curse. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

These top three are all pretty incredible and this film by Richard Rich, another Disney ex-pat, is no exception. The music is wonderful, animation on point, and a princess who stands up for herself, and what she wants in a relationship, is just such a great message.

Why it's not awesome:

This is really just nit-picking at this point, but it doesn't seem to have quite the fullness of Disney productions. It, at times, dumbs down some of the plot points and evilness of the villain when it isn't necessary.

Favorite scene/song:

"Far Longer Than Forever", below, this song will play at my wedding. It is beautiful and perfect and no one can tell me otherwise.

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2. The Prince of Egypt

Summary:

In this animated retelling of the Book of Exodus, Egyptian Prince Moses (Val Kilmer), upon discovering his roots as a Jewish slave, embarks on a quest to free his people from bondage. When his plea is denied by his brother Rameses (Ralph Fiennes), the new pharaoh, a series of horrific plagues strike Egypt. Moses finally leads the Israelites to freedom by parting the Red Sea and drowning the Egyptian army. God then gives Moses the Ten Commandments, a list of rules for his people to live by. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

In this near perfect film, the biblical story of Moses is tackled and instead of becoming a preachy bible school lesson it rises far above expectations, creating a humanizing and tragic portrayal of not just the "hero" of the story but also it's "villain"( played to perfection by Ralph Fiennes). It is truly magnificent and the MUSIC and the ANIMATION..... Geeze, just go watch it already!

Why it's not awesome:

Sometimes it does restrict it's audience by being a biblical retelling, but I can not stress ENOUGH how it is so not about that at all and just an incredible piece of film work.

Favorite scene/song:

I had to include two gifs on this one because that scene with the whale is just so stunning, and makes me gasp every time. As far as music goes there isn't a bum one in the show (thanks to Steven Schwartz of "Wicked" acclaim), but for below I chose the opening song to the piece, "Deliver Us" sung just stunningly by Ofra Haza, and I dare you not to cry at least once.

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1. Anastasia

Summary:

The evil wizard Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) puts a hex on the royal Romanovs and young Anastasia (Meg Ryan) disappears when their palace is overrun. Years later, the Grand Duchess (Angela Lansbury) offers a reward for Anastasia's return. Two scheming Russians (John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer), planning to pawn off a phony, hold auditions and choose an orphan girl with a remarkable resemblance to the missing princess. They bring her to Paris for the reward, not knowing she's the real Anastasia. -Rotten Tomatoes

Why it's awesome:

We can just hear it now, "WHAT?!!! Anastasia isn't Disney? How can this be? Is my entire life a lie?". It's so good that this film is basically canonical Disney at this point. It, literally, is a perfect film with a bona fide princess and everything. Well done Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, you achieved it! The Disney machine is yours for the taking! (Also CANNOT wait for the live musical version of this that is in the works!)

Why it's not awesome:

Nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this film. You can't make us say it. We won't.

Favorite scene/song:

Every song is wonderful (Flaherty and Ahrens, another set of amazing Broadway composers), but we picked the most iconic for below, "Once Upon a Dream". Just look at the animation in this scene and you are sure to fall in love.

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BONUS: Quest For Camelot

Alright guys so the only reason this one is on here is because it created one of the most incredible songs of all time, "The Prayer". The movie is just so-so but this song will live in infamy for all time and if you haven't heard the version with Andrea Boccelli and Katherine Mcphee run do not walk to go see it right now!! Below we included the song from the film that has the same melody but different lyrics (and one of the sexiest moments of all time *see gif above for proof).

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Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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