There are more than 200 Disney films available right now on Hoopla, one of our digital services at Mentor Public Library. And you can watch as many as 12 a month for free anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a MPL card.
But with so many movies to pick from, it’s difficult to know where to get started. Allow this to serve as your primer for all the rare and classic animated Disney films you can find on Hoopla.
Disney’s been associated with several genres over they years—everything from westerns to nature documentaries to science fiction (and we’ll get to all of them in turn)—but it’s still best known for its animation.
Disney reserves its best known animated films for its infamous vault, but there are still plenty of classics to share with your family on Hoopla.
Oliver & Company retells Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist from the vantage point of a stray cat in New York City. This might be the most musically talented cast that Disney has ever put together with Billy Joel, Bette Midler, Ruth Pointer, and Huey Lewis. (Classic songs alert: “Why Should I Worry;” “Streets of Gold;” and “Perfect Isn’t Easy.”)
Fun & Fancy Free is the only film to feature Jiminy Cricket alongside Mickey, Donald and Goofy. (It was also the last film to feature Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey.) It’s a “package film,” which means it packages shorter films—in this case, “Bongo” and “Mickey & the Beanstalk”—into a complete whole. (Classic song alert: “Fun & Fancy Free,” sung by Jiminy Cricket.)
Another celebrated package film that’s available on Hoopla: The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad. As you probably suspected, both The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Wind in the Willows get the classic Disney treatment here. This film has a particularly talented voice cast with Bing Crosby as Ichabod Crane and Basil Rathbone as the narrator.
Hoopla has a lot of animated features that’ll be dear to 90’s babies: Recess: School’s Out; Doug’s 1st Movie; The Ducktales Movie; and more! The best of the batch is A Goofy Movie. More than a Goof Troop spinoff, it tells the story of a, well, goofy father trying to connect with his adolescent son. (Classic songs alert: Tevin Campbell does his best Prince homage on “I 2 I” and “Stand Out.”)
Disney animation took a couple of stabs at medieval fantasy with The Sword in the Stone and The Black Cauldron. Both films have their imperfections: Sword’s narrative is a bit thin, Cauldron‘s a bit too ambitious. But both films have their fans, as well, and either is worth sharing with you family. (Fair warning: Cauldron can get pretty scary.)
The Small One is one of the more fascinating short films in Disney’s catalogue for two reasons. One, it’s directed by Don Bluth (whom you may know as the director of Anastasia, The Land Before Time, Balto and a gaggle of other classic and few less-than-classic films.) Before The Little Mermaid, it seemed entirely possible that Bluth might unseat Disney as the first name in children’s animation; so it’s occasionally forgotten that he made his bones as an animator for Disney. Second, The Small One addresses Christianity in a more head-on fashion than is typical for Disney. It tells the story of a boy who sells his donkey, the titular small one, to a kind man and his pregnant wife who are passing through his town. The couple are revealed to be the parents of Jesus.
Disney has taken two stabs at Mark Twain’s classic, The Prince and the Pauper—one live action, one animated. Both tell the story of a penniless young boy who is mistaken for his doppelgänger, a wealthy prince. I prefer the animated version because it stars Mickey Mouse as opposed to Sean Scully.
Finally, if you’re a big fan of animation—not only the films themselves, but how the films get made—then Hoopla has several Disney documentaries that demonstrate how they turn still images into moving stories. They include specials like The Story of the Animated Drawing, The Plausible Impossible, Tricks of our Trade, and An Adventure in Color.
However, the best two of the bunch are Frank & Ollie and Waking Sleeping Beauty. The first film tells the story of Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Disney’s celebrated Nine Old Men who worked on too many classic Disney films to list. In telling their own story, they explain how they brought their classic characters like Captain Hook and the Queen of Hearts to life.
Waking Sleeping Beauty tells the story of how Disney’s animated division resuscitated itself from financial and creative doldrums to create The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, and The Lion King during its second renaissance. The story is told from the perspective of the animators, directors, and executives who were there.
This introduction to Disney animation on Hoopla is merely the tip of the iceberg. Hoopla also has dozens of Disney adventures, comedies, nature films, and more available to watch whenever and wherever. And it’s all free with your Mentor Public Library card!
Peruse Hoopla’s collection and find your family’s newest favorite Disney film.
By the way, if you’re not sure how to use Hoopla, we made a how-to video.