20 Forgettable 00s Animated Movies Only True Fans Remember

Summary

  • The early 2000s saw a shift from hand-drawn to computer-generated animation, challenging Disney’s reign in the genre.
  • While some iconic animated movies emerged, many others were either forgotten or never discovered by audiences.
  • From forgotten gems like “Dinosaur” and “Treasure Planet” to flops like “Sinbad,” the decade had a mix of hits and misses.

Early 2000s animated movies created an exciting decade for the genre. It saw the traditional hand-drawn animation style being mostly replaced by computer-generated animation. It was also a period in which Disney’s reign as the best in the genre was challenged by other studios. While several iconic animated movies arrived that decade from Pixar and DreamWorks, there are also even more movies audiences either forgot about or never knew about in the first place, some better than others.

Looking back on the animated movies of the 2000s, there are a number that have cemented their status in the genre as true classics. Then there are those special movies that might have been overlooked when initially released only for their reputation to grow in the years since. But even with so many notable animated movies to come out of the decade, there are still many that have never managed to find an audience and remain obscure entries in the genre, even some from Disney itself.

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20 Dinosaur (2000)

Disney Animation

Dinosaur
Release Date
May 19, 2000
Distributor(s)
Walt Disney Pictures
Cast
D.B. Sweeney , Alfre Woodard , Ossie Davis , Max Casella

Disney’s 2000 CGI movie Dinosaur follows a herd of dinosaurs making a long and dangerous journey to find a new home after their old home is destroyed. Dinosaur only received praise for its visuals and the opening sequence. Critics say it lacked the storytelling that made classic Disney animation so beloved.

It was a big success at the box office, bringing in $350 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo) and it was also one of the best-selling home video releases in 2001. Despite that, Dinosaur has remained largely overlooked. Disney planned for this movie to usher in a new exciting age for their animated movies as the studio’s first 3D animated film.

However, instead, the movie has become viewed as the beginning of the decline of Disney Animated Studios following the success of the Disney Renaissance era. While it might not reach those heights, Dinosaur remains is a fascinating new direction for Disney, trying something new with its storytelling that feels more mature even if it isn’t quite as entertaining.

19 Everyone’s Hero (2006)

Fox Animation

Yankee Irving with a bat in EveryonesHero
Everyone’s Hero
Director
Colin Brady , Christopher Reeve , Dan St. Pierre
Release Date
August 4, 2006
Cast
William H. Macy , Rob Reiner , Brian Dennehy , Raven-Symone , Robert Wagner , Richard Kind

Much like Field of Dreams and Moneyball, Everyone’s Hero is a love letter to baseball. However, it takes a much more bizarre approach to exploring the sport. Set during the Great Depression, this is the story of a young boy who discovers a talking baseball.

Together, they attempt to retrieve Babe Ruth’s bat (which can also talk) from the clutches of a thief. Everyone’s Hero was co-directed by the late actor Christopher Reeve, and it features the voice talents of Forest Whittaker, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robin Williams as the manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Regardless, the premise is so strange that the film failed to attract much of an audience, but it remains a fun movie to go back and watch with newer audiences coming to appreciate it. While there are plenty of inspirational sports movies out there, the genre is explored so rarely in animated form. Seeing a story that is so tied to the love of the game while being presented in a family-friendly way offers a lot of charm.

18 Space Chimps (2008)

Fox Animation

Monkeys Ham III and Luna in space suits in Space Chimps.

NASA’s experiments in space travel in the 1960s that involved sending chimpanzees into orbit played into the classic sci-fi movie The Planet of the Apes. However, Space Chimps was a much less iconic take on that compelling true story.

The movie features the voice talents of Andy Samberg as the grandson of the first chimp sent into space. He leads a new set of chimps on a space-bound mission where they face off with aliens on a strange new planet.

While this early 2000s animated movie is mostly forgotten, it was a small success when it was released, making $64.8 million on a $37 million budget (via Box Office Mojo) and spawning a video game that dropped in the same year and a sequel in 2010. Though the animation is one of the weak aspects of the story, the movie offers more than just slapstick humor in space as it is a fun sci-fi adventure that does have some genuinely big laughs.

17 The Wild (2006)

Disney Animation (Buena Vista Pictures)

Samson talking to Bridget and Nigel in The Wild.
The Wild
Director
Steve Williams
Release Date
March 6, 2006

Cast
Kiefer Sutherland , James Belushi , Eddie Izzard , Janeane Garofalo , William Shatner , Richard Kind

There have been several examples of similar animated movies by competing studios released around the same time. Such was the case with Disney’s The Wild, which shared more than a few similarities with the Madagascar movies.

The Wild is about a lion who lives in the New York Zoo who, by accident, is sent to Africa, a land where he is not prepared to survive. His friends – an anaconda, a giraffe, and a squirrel – team up to help him find his way home. It came out a year after Madagascar became a hit, so The Wild was mostly forgotten but remains something worth checking out for fans of the genre.

While some critics pointed to the lackluster animation as part of the movie’s problems, others saw it as an asset. The movie goes for a more realistic look for the animals, avoiding the typical attempts to cartoon-ize the animal characters. It helps the movie stand out among other movies of its kind and is a bold approach to the family-friendly adventure.

16 Clifford’s Really Big Movie (2004)

Warner Bros. Pictures Animation

Clifford with his friends riding on his head in Clifford's Really Big Movie

Clifford the Big Red Dog received a live-action movie that brought the lovable giant dog to life in 2021. But it was not the first attempt to bring the popular children’s character to the big screen. Clifford’s Really Big Movie finds the large dog running away from home and joining a traveling animal show. His end goal is to win a lifetime supply of his favorite doggie treats.

Clifford’s Really Big Movie
was John Ritter’s final theatrical movie role released after his death.

There was the sense that the movie would have been better served as a television special rather than a film as it failed to find a large audience. However, the quaint and small-scale feel of the movie is somewhat charming in an era of animated movies that were getting more of a blockbuster feel just for the sake of it. While the lukewarm reception of the movie might suggest the love for Clifford isn’t as strong, those who are fans of the books will find a lot to like with his first film.

15 Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas (2003)

DreamWorks Animation

Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas
Director
Patrick Gilmore , Tim Johnson
Release Date
July 2, 2003
Writers
John Logan

Cast
Brad Pitt , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Michelle Pfeiffer , Joseph Fiennes , Dennis Haysbert , Timothy West

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas was designed to beDreamWorks Animation’s big summer blockbuster for 2003. It was a rousing adventure, headlined by a well-established character, that had big-time celebrity voices such as Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Instead, it turned out to be an expensive flop.

The hand-drawn animated movie opened just a few weeks after Pixar’s Finding Nemo, which captured the attention of families in a major way. The movie didn’t even earn back half its $60 million budget domestically as it only made $80.8 million on a $60 million budget (via Box Office Mojo) and ended up as the last time DreamWorks Animation used traditional hand-drawn animation in a feature film (via Los Angeles Times).

However, fans of this animation style are likely to get something out of it. Looking back on the movie, it feels like the last of its kind as a big entertaining adventure with such a vibrant look. It mixes humor and thrills without being too much for younger audiences to handle.

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14 Recess: School’s Out (2001)

Disney Animation

TJ, Vince, and Gretchen looking into the sky in Recess.
Recess: School’s Out
Director
Chuck Sheetz
Release Date
January 27, 2001

Recess was an animated series focusing on the experience of six elementary school students. While Recess was by no means a ratings smash, it did well enough that Disney attempted a full-length feature film version. Recess: School’s Out finds the pint-sized heroes battling an evil school administrator who wants to eliminate summer vacation. The movie earned decent reviews but came and went from theaters quickly.

While there are many young fans of the original cartoon series, it seems as though the target audience was just not big enough to make this a hit. However, the movie is able to stand on its own as a story with the colorful characters of the show getting a chance to shine in a feature-length adventure. The world-building of this school culture is highly entertaining, which will surely provide some fun for the older audiences as well.

13 Barnyard (2006)

Nickelodeon Movies

Cows looking scared while in a car in Barnyard

For a time in the 2000s, Nickelodeon made a concerted effort to break into the movie business with a series of animated films that included Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.

The plot of Barnyard centers around an irresponsible, hard-partying cow named Otis who learns to develop some maturity when he has to step up to become the leader of the barn animals and defend them against the villainous coyotes.

The movie did decent at the box office but received mostly mixed reviews. However, the film’s mostly comedic approach to the story makes it an amusing and light watch that is perfect for young kids to enjoy. Despite the inexplicable fact that the movie presents the male cows as having udders, the animation style seems to take a page from Nick Park movies like Wallace and Gromit.

12 Igor (2008)

MGM Animation

igor
Director
Anthony Leondis
Release Date
September 19, 2008
Writers
Dimitri Toscas, Anthony Leondis, Chris McKenna, John Hoffman
Cast
Matt McKenna, Robin Walsh, John Cusack, Myleene Klass, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese

Igor certainly has an interesting premise. It builds a story around Igor, the famed assistant of Dr. Frankenstein, referred to here as Doctor Glickenstein. John Cusack provides the voice of the character, who yearns to step out of the background and into the spotlight by becoming an evil scientist, just like his boss. Igor seems to attempt the kind of dark weirdness that could have made for an unusual and interesting animated movie, similar to some of Tim Burton’s notable movies.

The movie was a big deal when released, premiering at the 2008 New York Comic Con and then hitting theaters with video games, toys, books, and comics as tie-ins. It didn’t do well at the box office, only making $30.7 million on a $25 million budget (via Box Office Mojo), and reviews were mixed. However, it won an Annie Award and has since become a cult favorite. The quirky mix of horror and family-friendly comedy makes it an overlooked yet worthy Halloween movie for all ages.

11 Treasure Planet (2002)

Disney Animation

Disney came up with the idea of taking Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island and turning it into a science-fiction adventure. Treasure Planet follows teen Jim Hawkins as he travels the galaxy, following a map that promises to deliver a bounty of riches. Treasure Planet did not perform nearly as well as most other Disney animated features. Given its $140 million budget, the domestic box office take of $38 million (via Box Office Mojo) cemented it as one of the most notable box office bombs of the 2000s.

This movie came at a period of time when Disney’s animated offerings were not getting the same accolades nor the box office returns they enjoyed in the 1990s. While its box office failure cannot be denied, Treasure Planet has earned something of reappreciation in recent years. The hand-drawn aspects of the movie are beautiful and mix well with the grand space aspect of the story. It makes for a big and exciting swashbuckling adventure not often seen in Disney movies now.

10 Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron (2002)

DreamWorks Animation

Spirit running in Spirit Stallion of the Cimmeron

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was another early 2000s animated movie that had high hopes of being the next big hit only to be largely overlooked when it was released. Spirit is a wild Mustang who is captured and sold to the U.S. Cavalry. After escaping the clutches of a cruel colonel, he seeks to reunite with others of his kind. Despite the beautiful imagery of the movie, it was not the kind of feel-good, fun adventure fans might have expected at the time.

It spawned a Netflix spin-off TV series in 2017 called
Spirit Riding Free.

However, in the years since its release, Spirit has also received a reevaluation. It did earn an Oscar nomination when it was released, and while it was a box office failure, it spawned a Netflix spin-off TV series in 2017 called Spirit Riding Free and a spin-off movie called Spirit Untamed in 2021. That speaks to the lasting legacy of the movie even if it isn’t remembered by everyone. It is a lot of fun seeing this unique animated take on the Western genre with an inspiring story of a search for freedom.

9 Fly Me To The Moon (2008)

Summit Entertainment

Flies in astronaut suits in Fly Me to the Moon
Fly Me to the Moon
Director
Ben Stassen
Release Date
August 15, 2008
Cast
Tim Curry , Robert Patrick , Kelly Ripa , Buzz Aldrin , Trevor Gagnon , Philip Bolden

It’s surprising that Fly Me to the Moon isn’t more well-known if only for its bizarre premise. Based on a real historical event, it follows three talking houseflies who stow away on Apollo 11 on the historic voyage to the moon. The movie is a noticeably lower-scale production than the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks, which might have turned some audience members away.

It also takes its premise to some strange places with a group of Soviet flies attempting to sabotage the mission and even includes a cameo from Buzz Aldrin. The lower budget is certainly hard to ignore though it does not break the movie by any means. It is a lot of fun to see such an iconic historical event reinterpreted in a story that can be enjoyed by younger audiences as well. It might indeed be something that is more suitable for very young audiences, but it is a charming period tale as well.

8 9 (2009)

Lux Animation

9 (2009)
Director
Shane Acker
Release Date
September 9, 2009
Writers
Pamela Pettler , Shane Acker , Ben Gluck

Cast
Elijah Wood , Jennifer Connelly , Crispin Glover , Christopher Plummer , Martin Landau , John C. Reilly , Fred Tatasciore , Alan Oppenheimer

With Tim Burton as one of the producers, it’s no surprise that 9 was a stranger and darker early 2000s animated movie than others in the genre. The central character is a burlap doll named #9. He makes his way through a post-apocalyptic future where humankind has been wiped out by a sentient machine.

9 deals with heavy ideas, such as how fear can influence decision-making. There’s even a religious vibe running through the story. A scientist creates nine of the rag dolls, each with a different part of his personality or characteristics in them. Their job is to defeat the computer that conquered and wiped out humans (also created by the scientist), and hopefully bring back a spark of life to the planet once again.

The movie received positive to mixed reviews and earned a Producers Guild nomination. The beautiful animation is mixed with an epic story that might be too intense for the youngest audiences at times. However, the film’s unique mythology has helped it to grow a cult following.

7 Home On The Range (2004)

Disney Animation

Maggie, Grace, and Mrs. Caloway in Home on the Range-1
Home On The Range
Director
Will Finn , John Sanford
Release Date
April 2, 2004
Cast
G.W. Bailey , Roseanne Barr , Bobby Block , Steve Buscemi , Carole Cook , Charlie Dell

Home on the Range is a 2004 Disney film that follows the exploits of a group of dairy cows. To prevent the foreclosure of the farm on which they live, the cows must hunt down a notorious cattle rustler, so they can collect the bounty on his head.

Traditional hand-drawn animated movies had drastically decreased in popularity by the time Home on the Range was released. After the mediocre performance of this movie, Disney cut back on that style of animation for several years. Home on the Range falls into a bit of a strange era for Disney.

While the humor and lack of a story feel a little like the studio trying to aim at a much younger crowd, there is no denying that seeing that hand-drawn animation done by Disney has a strong impact. Even if it is not the deepest movie from the studio, it is a bright and breezy ride with some fun characters that’s easy for viewers of all ages to enjoy.

6 The Road To El Dorado (2000)

DreamWorks Animation

The Road to El Dorado
Director
Don Paul , Bibo Bergeron
Release Date
March 31, 2000

The Road to El Dorado seemed poised to be DreamWorks’ big splashy Disney-like adventure. With stars Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh leading the movie and original songs by Elton John and Oscar winner Tim Rice, it felt like a winner. It tells the story of two con artists who come into possession of a map that will allegedly lead them to El Dorado, a rumored city of gold.

Sadly, with lukewarm reviews and a poor box office performance, The Road to El Dorado was one of the first notable bombs of the 21st century. It failed to even make back its budget, with only a $76 million worldwide take on a $95 million budget (via Box Office Mojo). However, in later years, The Road to El Dorado received a reevaluation and is now considered a cult classic, with praise for the animation and the music by the great duo of Elton John and Hans Zimmer.

5 Doogal (2006)

Pathé Distribution

Doogal the dog smiling
Doogal
Release Date
February 11, 2005
Cast
Tom Baker , Jim Broadbent , Lee Evans , Joanna Lumley , Ian McKellen , Kylie Minogue , Bill Nighy , robbie williams , Ray Winstone
Director
Jean Duval , Frank Passingham , Dave Borthwick
Runtime
82 Minutes

Doogal is a French-animated movie that was originally titled The Magic Roundabout. It is based on a TV series of the same name and features unlikely heroes who have to stop a villain who wants to freeze the world.

The American version features a big cast, including Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chevy Chase, and wasn’t released until a full year after the French version. The movie received mixed reviews from French and U.K. audiences but was mostly bashed by American film critics.

Its worldwide box office was only $26.7 million on a $20 million budget (via Box Office Mojo), and the planned sequel ended up being canceled. The movie puts a bit too much Hollywood gloss on the story to really resemble the original series, but there is a lot of nostalgic fun to get out of the charming and simple ride, even if it is aimed at the younger audience primarily.

4 Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Disney Animation

Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Director
Gary Trousdale , Kirk Wise
Release Date
June 2, 2001
Distributor(s)
Disney

Writers
Tab Murphy , Plato , David Reynolds , Gary Trousdale , Joss Whedon , Kirk Wise

Cast
Michael J. Fox , Corey Burton , Claudia Christian , James Garner , John Mahoney , Phil Morris

The ambitious sci-fi Disney adventure Atlantis: The Lost Empire features the voice talents of Michael J. Fox as an adventurer who decides to continue his grandfather’s search for the lost city of Atlantis. The film follows him on this journey. Viewers didn’t seem to know what to make of this atypical Disney movie. The characters didn’t break into song, as was then common in the studio’s animated fare, and there were no cute animal sidekicks.

This likely led to this early 2000s animated movie’s box office failure, which only saw it bringing in $186 million on a budget that was estimated to be up to $120 million (via Box Office Mojo). Part of that failure might be that it went head-to-head with Shrek at the box office. It did pick up seven Annie Awards nominations and received a sequel in 2003. It has also become more popular in later years, another cult classic from Disney animation’s down period.

Looking back, it is another movie to appreciate more now that hand-drawn animation has all but disappeared from Disney movies. Like Treasure Planet, it is a movie that tells a grand blockbuster story through some beautiful animation. While the 2000s might not have been such a successful era for Disney, movies like Atlantis: The Lost Empire highlight the boldness that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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3 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters (2007)

First Look Pictures

Carl standing with Meatwad, Frylock, and Master Shake in Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
Director
matt maiellaro , Dave Willis
Release Date
April 13, 2007
Cast
Dana Snyder , Carey Means , Dave Willis , Andy Merrill , Mike Schatz , matt maiellaro

Aqua Teen Hunger Force ran for 11 successful seasons as part of Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” block of programming. The show followed the adventures of a meatball, a milkshake, and a package of French fries and had a passionate cult following with its unabashedly absurd humor. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters continued the outrageous style of the show in a big-screen tale in which the characters battle a demonic piece of exercise equipment.

There was a sequel that arrived in 2022 called
Aqua Teen Forever: Phantasm.

Given the small release, and a budget of only $750,000, few people beyond the die-hard fans of the show remember the movie. There was a sequel that arrived in 2022 called Aqua Teen Forever: Phantasm, although that one went straight to Max. The movie did not make itself very accessible to those who were not familiar with the show. However, for those who can get on board with the irreverent humor and unhinged storytelling (or lack thereof), the movie offers some big laughs. It is a surreal, fever-dream of a comedic ride.

2 Valiant (2005)

Disney Animation (Buena Vista Pictures)

Valiant in his military uniform in Valiant
valiant
Director
Gary Chapman
Release Date
March 25, 2005
Cast
Jim Broadbent, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Ewan McGregor, John Cleese, Hugh Laurie

Yet another rare animated movie to be based on a true story, Valiant takes the rather surprising approach of making a family-friendly cartoon set during the battles of World War II. It uses the format to tell the admittedly interesting story of carrier pigeons used during the war.

Ewan McGregor voices the title character, a carrier pigeon whose job is to deliver important communications on behalf of the Allied forces. When one of his colleagues is captured by an Axis falcon, Valiant mounts a mission to save him. The true story was based on how the Allied forces used carrier pigeons to deliver messages to help soldiers during World War II.

Despite this, the movie received mostly negative reviews, although it was a minor box-office success. The premise might turn off some audiences looking for a family-friendly movie, but they can rest assured the war elements are kept relatively tame. Instead, it is a fun animated take on the “team on a mission” movie, poking fun at some of the tropes of the war genre to entertain the adults as well.

1 Teacher’s Pet (2004)

Disney Animation (Buena Vista Pictures)

Spot standing in the spotlight in Teacher's Pet
Teacher’s Pet (2004)
Release Date
January 16, 2004
Cast
Nathan Lane , Shaun Fleming , Debra Jo Rupp , Kelsey Grammer , David Ogden Stiers , Jerry Stiller , Rosalyn Landor
Director
Timothy Björklund
Runtime
74 Minutes

Teacher’s Pet is based on a short-lived cartoon that ran on Saturday morning television about a dog who can talk and read. He consequently decides to pose as a human and attend school with his owner. The movie simply told the same story as the show in the big-screen version. Though the show had a reasonable fanbase, its popularity failed to grow beyond that when the movie was released.

Teacher’s Pet came and went from theaters without much notice, only making $6.5 million on a $10 million budget (via Box Office Mojo). The cartoon itself remains a more obscure one from the era. Despite this, the early 2000s animated movie earned positive reviews, with a 76% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

While the show itself has largely been forgotten as well, it still makes for a funny and irreverent comedy for all ages. With a short runtime, the movie packs in a lot of laughs with humor that is sharper than the typical animated comedies.

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