Anastasia (1997)

dir. Don Bluth

Possibly without meaning to, Anastasia managed to pull off one of the biggest cons of all time. It’s firmly stuck in the memories of most ’90s kids as one of those Disney movies they loved to go back to again and again. The catch being, it’s not a Disney movie. And watching it again as an adult makes that very clearly. Don Bluth was a master animator in his own right, and it shows in the gorgeous backdrops of this fantasy tale about the lost Romanoff princess. But the characters themselves? They’re scary. They’re just scary. Weird sneers and grimaces and pointy-looking faces, including on our main heroine and hero. It’s off-putting, and doesn’t have the softness or attractiveness of a Disney picture. Couple this with a meandering plot that doesn’t really know what it’s doing, and it’s evident that Anastasia can’t compete in the same leagues. Despite fervent efforts by the likes of Meg Ryan, Christopher Lloyd, and even Kelsey Grammer adopting the film’s only even vague Russian accent, Anastasia never amounts to more than a hollow imitation of its peers. It’s not the worst film, but it’s certainly not the best.

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