Tops: 10 Best [Animated] Supporting Disney Characters

Welcome to Tops!  Wildly popular on As Seen By (2011-2013), Tops is a feature highlighting the “10 Best” [insert topic] in television or movies!  Lists like the Top 10 Animated “Awww” Moments or Ten 21st Century Documentary Films The May Make You Want to Occupy a Street are among the most popular ever written for As Seen By.  Now, I’m bringing the Tops feature to Bobby’s World and I’m launching with the “10 Best [Animated] Supporting Disney Characters!” Enjoy.

 

10.  PASCAL

Pascal

from Tangled (2010). Voice: n/a

The countdown begins with the most adorable little chameleon ever.  Pascal is a fun, good-natured little guy who’s very protective of Rapunzel, his sole companion.  When Flynn Rider comes along, Pascal is none too happy and spends a number of moments standing off against the wanted hero.  And who could forget the two times he mischievously throws his tongue into Flynn’s ear – or his adorable squeaks – or cute little facial expressions?  Pascal stands by his friend through it all and even has quite the adventure retrieving the wedding rings near the end of the movie.  He’s crafty and fun, and one of the best parts of Tangled.

Favorite Moment:  Every single interaction with Flynn Rider!

Favorite Quote(s):  n/a

9.  GUS GUS

from Cinderella (1950). Voice: James MacDonald

from Cinderella (1950). Voice: James MacDonald

Duh!  Octavius … or rather, Gus Gus, had to make the list.  He’s the funniest little fat mouse ever!  Whether he’s acting tough by threatening Lady Tremaine or her evil cat Lucifer, or trying to pick up almost a dozen kernels of corn, Gus provides a lot of comedy for Cinderella.  Rescued from a mousetrap, Gus becomes attached to and very protective of Cinderella.  He’s her tiny little aloof knight in a mustard tee – and for that, and his adorable laugh, he earns a sweet spot on the list.

Favorite Moment:  When he’s competing with the “cluck-clucks” for corn kernels and keeps losing them!

Favorite Quote(s):

“Duh, duh, duh…Happy Birthday!”

“Take it easy cluck-cluck!”

8.  SHENZI, BANZAI and ED

from The Lion King (1994). Voices: Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Cummings and Cheech Martin

from The Lion King (1994). Voices: Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Cummings and Cheech Martin

Hyenas…in the Pride Lands!  At number eight, Shenzi (Whoopi Goldberg, center), Banzai (Cheech Martin, right), and Ed (Jim Cummings, left) are the only trio featured on the list.  Notable not only for their comedic moments, the Scar sidekicks are a dangerous pack that aid in Scar’s takeover of Pride Rock, Mufasa’s death and Simba’s exile.  As a unit, they’re deadly and individually, their traits make them devious yet joyfully memorable.

Favorite Moment:  The “Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa” scene.

Favorite Quote(s):

“Make mine a ‘cub’ sandwich.” – Shenzi

“There ain’t no way I’m goin’ in there! What you want me to come out there lookin’ like you, cactus butt?” – Shenzi

“[uncontrollable laughter]” – Ed

“Who you callin’ upid-stay?” – Banzai

“Do you know what we do to kings who step out of their kingdom?” – Shenzi

7.  RAFIKI

from The Lion King (1994). Voice:  Robert Guillaume

from The Lion King (1994). Voice: Robert Guillaume

Like the circle of life, Rafiki begins and ends the story of The Lion King hoisting a cub into the air from atop Pride Rock.  A friend to Mufasa, Rafiki (whose name means “friend” in Swahili) serves as an advisor to Simba, as he grapples with his destiny as “the one true king.” An inhabitant of an old baobab tree, Rafiki is wise, mysterious and a tad bit eccentric (Simba even refers to him as a “creepy little monkey”) – but his lessons are invaluable to Simba, who learns quickly from the loveable mandrill.

Favorite Moment:  Rafiki’s lesson to Simba about running from or learning from the past.

Favorite Quote(s):

“Oh yes, the past can hurt, but he way I see it: You can either run from it, or learn from it.”

“Asante sansa Squash banana, Wiwi nugu Mi mi apana … can’t cut it out, it’ll grow right back!”

“He lives in you.”

6.  GENIE

from Aladdin (1992). Voice:  Robin Williams

from Aladdin (1992). Voice: Robin Williams

Remember wanting to find your own magic lamp in a Cave of Wonders, so that you could have a friend like Genie?  Me too.  Genie is one of the most animated and boisterous supporting characters in all of Disney.  He transformed Aladdin into “Prince Ali,” and is responsible for the set up between Aladdin and Jasmine.  He’s loving, loyal and loud, but beneath all of that, he only really desires his freedom.

Favorite Moment:  The “itty bitty living space” moment and the “Never Had a Friend Like Me” musical number.

Favorite Quote(s):

“Phenomenal cosmic powers, itty bitty living space.”

“Yo, Rugman!  Haven’t seen you in a few millennia, give me some tassel!”

“You ain’t never had a friend like me!”

“Beeeeee yourself.”

“Do you mind if I kiss the monkey?  …Oh, hairball!”

“Thank you for choosing ‘Magic Carpet’ for all your travel needs. Don’t stand until the rug has come to a complete stop.  Thank you, goodbye now.  Goodbye. Goodbye. Thank you. Goodbye.”

 5.  OLAF

from FROZEN (2013). Voice: Josh Gad

from FROZEN (2013). Voice: Josh Gad

Some people are worth melting for – so are some of Disney’s supporting characters, especially Olaf, the snowman who longs to “do whatever snow does in summer!”  First introduced as a lifeless snowman while Elsa and Anna are kids, Olaf is later brought to life and becomes one of the most animated and flamboyant characters in recent Disney memory.  His many adorable moments, quotes and “In Summer” number made him relatable, lovable and instantly classic and memorable.

Favorite Moment:  When he tells Anna that some people are worth melting for, or when he’s admiring his nose!

Favorite Quote(s):

“Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a … happy snowman!”

“Oh I love it [his new carrot nose]! It’s so cute, it’s like a little baby unicorn.”

“Hi everyone! I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs.”

“Heads up! Watch out for my butt!”

“Yeah! It really is beautiful isn’t it? It’s so white – you know have a little color! I’m thinking like maybe some crimson, chartreuse … how ’bout yellow? No, not yellow – yellow and snow [muffled brrr-sound] no go.”

4.  RAY

from The Princess and the Frog (2009). Voice:  Jim Cummings

from The Princess and the Frog (2009). Voice: Jim Cummings

Ray, the Cajun firefly, is the only supporting character featured on the list that dies, while battling “The Shadow Man,” Dr. Facilier!  Before Ray meets his tragic end though, he wows the audience with the “Gonna Take You There” number in the bayou and his story of Evangeline.  Ray (alongside ‘gator Louis) adds a great deal of soul, humor and folklore to The Princess and the Frog.  His bittersweet end sees him finally be united with Evangeline, as a star beside her.

Note:  Ray’s funeral was ranked as my #10 Animated “Awww” Moment.

Favorite Moment:  Meeting Ray and the numbers “Gonna Take You There” and “Ma Belle Evangeline.”

Favorite Quote(s):

“My name Raymond, but everybody call me Ray.”

“Ooo, I’m a Cajun, bro!”

“Go to bed! Y’all from Shreveport?”

“First rule of the bayou – never take directions from a ‘gator.”

“Don’t make me light my butt!”

3.  SEBASTIAN

from The Little Mermaid (1989). Voice: Samuel E. Wright

from The Little Mermaid (1989). Voice: Samuel E. Wright

Who doesn’t love Sebastian?  Sure, he’s a little crabby, but it’s because nobody listens to him, especially Ariel!  From start to finish, the wee crustacean transforms from a hard-shell crab into a softy! His calypso-reggae infused songs are brought to life by voice actor Samuel E. Wright and endure as some of the most memorable and timeless.  Recall “Under the Sea” or “Kiss the Girl?”  What’s great about Sebastian is that he’s always got everyone else’s best interests in mind – and he works tirelessly to help in any way possible.  Aww.

Favorite Moment:  When Sebastian teaches Ariel how to pucker her lips OR when Sebastian faces off against Chef Louis to the song “Les Poissons!”

Favorite Quote(s):

“Teenagers!  Dhey dink dhey know everything. You give dhem an inch; dhey swim all over you.”

“My nerves are shot.  This is a catastrophe! What would her father say? I tell you what her father’d say.  He’d say he’s gonna kill himself a crab, dat’s what her father’d say…”

“You gotta pucker up your lips, like this…”

“Geez mon, I’m surrounded by amateurs!”

2.  TIMON & PUMBAA

from The Lion King (1994). Voices: Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella

from The Lion King (1994). Voices: Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella

Timon and Pumbaa are inseparable!  They’re two of the most beloved characters of all-time, and the most dynamic duo ever created by Disney.  They enter the story of The Lion King at the most somber moment to provide hope, humor and even more spirit.   They’re rambunctious and zany, but above all, they’re tender-hearted and endearing.  After all, they save Simba – a lion – one of their natural predators!  Together, as co-parents, they protect Simba until he’s an adult – and they stand beside him as he takes his “rightful place as king.”

Favorite Moment:  When Pumbaa is stuffed and Timon dresses in drag to do the hula.

Favorite Quote(s):

“What do you want me to do? Dress in drag and do the hula?” – Timon

“Pumbaa:  It’s times like these my buddy Timon here says: ‘You got to put your behind in your past’. / Timon:  No, no, no.  Amateur.  Lie down before you hurt yourself.  It’s ‘You got to put your past behind you’.”

“Hakuna Matata”

1.  LUMIERE

from Beauty and the Beast (1992). Voice: Jerry Orbach

from Beauty and the Beast (1992). Voice: Jerry Orbach

“But of course!” The French candelabra Lumière tops the list.  Named after pioneering filmmakers, The Lumière Brothers, and fashioned with Pepé Le Pew in mind, Lumière is the quintessential supporting character.  He’s witty, charming, free-spirited and romantic – not to mention, one of the driving forces behind Belle and Beast’s romance.  His resistance to Cogsworth’s traditional attitude, hospitality toward Belle, and fiery romance with Featherduster provide plenty of memorable moments or musical numbers, like “Be Our Guest!”  He is the perfect host for entertaining and embodies all that one might imagine about France.

Note:  Lumière has been my favorite supporting Disney character since I was a child.  I oftentimes reference Beauty and the Beast, Lumière and Pepé Le Pew when discussing why I studied French, or explaining why I love the idea of Parisian life.

Favorite Moment:  The “Be Our Guest” sequence and his on-screen moment with Featherduster.

Favorite Quote(s):

“But of Course!”

“Ma Chère mademoiselle.  It is with deepest pride and great pleasure the we welcome you tonight …”


That’s the countdown!  How did you like the list?  Are there moments or quotes from these characters that you liked but don’t see here?  Share it in the comments section below.  Are your favorite supporting characters missing from the list?  Make the case for them below too!  Thanks for reading.

A Media Comment: Animated Feature ≠ “Kid’s Movie”

"Hiccup" from DreamWorks' How To Train Your Dragon 2

“Hiccup” from DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2

Have you seen DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 yet? If not, do so – it’s a fantastic animated feature that, in a roundabout way, is the basis for this post.  While I was surfing Facebook, I saw Moviepilot Animation’s article:  So Let’s Talk About How To Train Your Dragon’s Gay Character.  Upon completing the article, I read through a few of the responses, but the top rated response said:

“He is not gay…my god its. A kids movie..people are such idiots trying to make something out of nothing…get a hobby!”

While those of you who know me may think this will focus on the emergence of openly gay characters in animated movies, it won’t.  Trust me, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a research article analyzing gay characters in animated movies.  That project looks more like a go every day.  Instead, I’m going to comment on why ANIMATED FEATURE does not equal KID’S MOVIE.

This is something that’s bothered me immensely over the years, leaving me curious to know:  Why do so many people say animated movies are just for kids? Is it the bright and bold color, the catchy musical numbers (ahem, Frozen - I know, I should just “Let It Go”), or is it simply because it’s animated? A cartoon.  I can’t figure it out.

Now, if you’re like me, you love animated features – and you like to go to the theater while schools are in session, so that you may enjoy them without all the chatterbox-children around.  But doesn’t it just so happen that kids are almost always on break when the animated features flood the box office? It does. Then, you go to the theater not thinking much of it and surprise! A million kids.  The kids aren’t the problem though, it’s their chaperoning adult(s), right?

I generally make it a point to see every animated feature that comes out.  I’ve loved them since I was a child – and since the emergence of Pixar, the ante’s been upped!  Many more animated features are sophisticated and contain social commentaries (ex. openly gay characters emerging in animated features), subtle humor and storylines for adults.  The [mostly] breathtaking animation is still there, but that’s for the enjoyment of everyone right? So I can’t figure out why when I walk into a theater full of kids I’m shot a dirty look from time to time.  Am I not allowed to see an animated feature in theaters if I don’t have children?  Because I’m seeing the movie alone, am I weird? …or worse, a suspected pedophile?

On countless occasions, I’ve had friends tell me they wanted to see whatever the newest animated feature was, but they can’t go alone because “it’d be weird.” Why is it weird? Why can grown men or women not go see an animated movie alone? Who says and what authority do they have? Then I think, it all comes back to this idea that animated features are “Kids’ Movies.”

Newsflash: They’re not.

Animated features, like all other Hollywood productions are rated in accordance with the MPAA.  Generally, these movies are rated G or PG (you can explore all that who, how, etc. here), but that alone doesn’t mean the movie is strictly for kids. When I envision kid-centric entertainment, I think of programming like Baby Einstein, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, just to list some obvious (TV) examples.

Carl and Ellie from Disney-Pixar's Up

Carl and Ellie from Disney-Pixar’s Up

Have you seen the Shrek or Ice Age franchises? I don’t think I need to elaborate on all of that adult humor.  What about more subtle movies like Disney-Pixar’s Up?  The entire Carl-Ellie relationship is adult-oriented, as is the “Married Life” montage.  Sure, it’s brightly colored and full of wondrous imagination and imagery, but Up‘s core (its heart) appeals to both children and adults.  My point is, these animated features are made for the enjoyment of everyone.

By design, animated features resonate with each of us differently.  They could inspire a child to become an animator.  They are proponents of imagination (children may want to be ruling princesses or explorers imagining great adventures of their own).  In the same way kids are inspired, adults may find humor, they may reminisce of days gone by, or they may be inspired themselves.  An adult may write that book or screenplay they always wanted to write, or to take the adventure they’d always imagined (I went to New Orleans in 2012 because of The Princess and the Frog), or just to laugh and love as much as the animated feature suggests.  Through the lens of adulthood we “see” and take away more from animated features, we understand their souls and not just the pretty pictures.

Now please, don’t think my last statement discredits a child’s ability to understand a movie (or any piece of media or art).  I’m the last person that would do that.  In fact, in my own endeavors, I find myself fighting for the kids, saying they deserve complexity, subtlety and perfection in the media they may consume.  What I am saying, is that adults have a greater understanding (sometimes) and that just because it’s animated doesn’t mean it’s not for them too.

Call it a Family Movie or better yet, just call it what it is – an animated feature or an animated movie – but unless it’s directly stated to be so, don’t call it a “Kid’s Movie.”  Recognize they’re made for the enjoyment of everyone – take away the weirdness and the odd looks.  Give everyone the chance to be inspired, just because you’re grown doesn’t mean you don’t need it.   Go watch any one of your childhood favorites now, and as Beauty and The Beast suggests:

“There may be something there that wasn’t there before.”

I’d like to know, is there a movie you feel bridges the gap between childhood and adulthood?  What are some of your favorite animated moments or quotes?  How about your favorite animated characters and why? What themes do you see in animated features that appeal to adults?  Let’s talk in the comments section!

ENTERTAINMENT news: The Magical World of Disney

Disney LogoDisney has been the talk of Tinseltown this past week – from the strong weekend opening of Oz, The Great and Powerful ($79 million) to the announcement that Disney is shutting down their 2-D, hand-drawn animation division.  This week, Disney is adding more fuel to their blazing wildfire: they’re “re-imagining” Beauty and the Beast.  The newest feature in re-imagination-land is being titled The Beast and will utilize Belle’s beau as the central figure in a darker, live-action story.

Did you say “what?” Exactly.

Poor, or less than expected, box-office returns for The Princess and the Frog (2009) and Winnie the Pooh (2011) are being cited for the closure of the 2-D animation department.  Disney’s first black princess earned $267 million worldwide, while Pooh-bear only mustered $33 million in golden honey.  Unfortunately, both are being compared to Tangled (2010), the Rapunzel movie that embraced cutting-edge 3-D animation technology and tallied $590 million in worldwide earnings (nevermind the “new-animation” attempt that was Mars Needs Moms, remember that movie that cost $150 million and made $39 million worldwide?).

Disney’s decision is also largely based on the success of Pixar Animations like the Toy Story franchise, which to date has grossed just under $2 billion worldwide in original and re-release time periods. But will the elimination of the 2-D division allow Disney to carry “the magic” forward in their animated features?

It’s been suggested that Tangled had “it,” but there is a certain sense of nostalgia that will be sacrificed by solely embracing new animation technologies.  The problem won’t be the stories or the characters, they’ll endure the test of time, but the “cutting-edge” technology won’t, unless it’s executed perfectly.  For an example of this, you don’t need to look any further than Mickey Mouse then (ca. 1950) and Mickey Mouse now (ca. 2006).


Sure Mickey looks like the same mouse, but don’t you think he’s lost a little bit of “it?”   Hand-drawn animation, like the works of the classical painters and artists of yesterday, withstands the test of time, whereas the newer animation will cheapen and “discolor” in the wake of new styles and technologies.  It’s too early to tell which animated princess’ story will hold up better, Tiana’s or Rapunzel’s – or is it?  I would suggest that twenty, or even thirty-fifty years from now, people will more fondly remember The Princess and the Frog when compared to Tangled.  When compared side-by-side, The Princess and the Frog has soul and heart – it’s got the Disney-classic musical numbers and the crisp, timeless animated appeal.  Tangled, conversely, is a product of the times – from the dialogue and animation style to the clothing and hair choices.  Sure, it boasts some really fun and memorable characters, like Flynn Rider and Rapunzel herself, and it has that magnificent floating lantern scene/song, but in the long run, it’ll wind up in the Shrek category and look to the future like 1964’s Rudolph looks to us now.

It’s sad to think that even Disney is selling-out to become a profit-minded juggernaut, rather than a place for magic and memories.  It’s trading in its classic appeal for big box-office returns in a watered-down social culture and re-imagining some of its greatest, most enduring stories – which brings me to The Beast.

Beauty and the Beast is arguably one of Disney’s most beloved tales ever told.  “Re-imagining” the story, in live-action, accomplishes what besides allowing Disney to contribute to Hollywood’s re-make/re-boot era? Nothing. In fact, Disney has had only moderate success in this category, judging by 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, which didn’t outperform the original animated classic, or recoup it’s budget.  The Huntsman grossed $155 million (on a $170 million budget) in the United States, compared to the 1937 animated version, which boasts a domestic lifetime total of $184 million (on a $1.5 million budget).

MaleficentNext year, Angelina Jolie lends her star power to the Sleeping Beauty spin-off Maleficent and after that, The Beast will make his way into theaters across America.  Will these live-action fantasies live up to the hype and be able to topple their classic predecessors? It’s monetarily possible, but if Disney’s going to commit to a new direction, one of “re-imagination” and new animation, then they’ll need to work a lot harder to keep the wonder, heart, timelessness, and magic of their movies intact.  Anybody can produce for-profit-garbage – Disney should be above that, they have the ability to produce and inspire imagination and that’s a trait that may be lost if profit continues determining direction.

Look at the current number one movie, for example, Oz, the Great and Powerful – it’s been a critical failure for lacking heart and soul, and for being bland, despite its visual appeal.  An appeal that carried a $215 million production budget.  And even that too, is a re-imagination of a classic from 1939.  Maybe it’s time Disney takes a deep breath and returns to doing what Disney does, sooner rather than later.