Great Expectations (1989)

This epic mini series follows the fortunes of young Pip, from a simple act of kindness to an escaped convict, then the invitations of a strange old woman to play with her cold and cruel ward, to his sudden windfall of an inheritance that raises him up to a place in society that he only had dreamt of.

The myriad of colorful characters that he meets along the way are a testament to the brilliant story writing of Charles Dickens as well as the screenwriter who adapted this tome of a book.

5hr. 0min.

The Land Before Time (1988)

In this classic story, LittleFoot is suddenly separated from his grandparents by an earthquake that also mortally wounds his mother. His only chance of reuniting with them is to follow his mother’s instructions to get to the almost mythical Great Valley. Along the way he befriends other young lost dinosaurs that join him on his journey, that is alternatingly poignant, frightening and humorous.

Featuring the classic If We Hold on Together sung by Diana Ross.

1hr. 9min.

The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

Moments after Kermit, Gonzo and Fozzie join the Chronicle a theft of Lady Holiday’s (Diana Rigg) jewels is committed.  In order to get a follow up interview with Lady Holiday, and save their jobs, the gang head to London where they quickly become involved with an even more complicated plot that seems to be centered around an aspiring model (Miss Piggy).

Featuring gigantic musical numbers and several cameos, this is one of the Muppets best films.

1hr. 37min.

An American Tail (1986)

When young Fievel Mousekewitz (Phillip Glasser) is separated from his family, while traveling to America, he embarks on an incredible adventure trying to find his way back to them. Along the way he encounters all kinds of characters; some good and some bad. He never gives up and ultimately changes the lives of all around him in this inspiring tale.

Featuring the voice talent of Dom DeLuise and Christopher Plummer and the hauntingly beautiful score by James Horner.

1hr. 20min.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Ariel (Jodi Benson) is a young mermaid who dreams of the mysterious and forbidden world “on land”.  When she sees Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes) and subsequently saves him from a shipwreck, she is instantly smitten and determines to do whatever it takes to be with him.  Including trading her voice for legs to the evil Ursula (Pat Carroll), who gives Ariel 3 days to get a kiss of true love in order to stay a human.

Based on the classic Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, this film was over forty years in the making and was the beginning of what would be called the Renaissance in Disney animation.  The Academy Award winning score features the haunting Part of Your World and (some have said) brought Broadway into the cartoons.

1hr. 23min.

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

After running from some bullies, young Bastian (Barrett Oliver) finds himself in a used bookstore, where he encounters the mysterious owner who shows him a book, The NeverEnding Story.  He takes it to the attic of his school, where he becomes lost in the exploits of young warrior Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), as he must find a way to save the land of Fantasia from the mysterious Nothing.  It is only when he is too far to “turn back” that Bastian realizes that somehow the fate of Fantasia lies in his hands alone.

Featuring eye-popping practical special effects, this film was Germany’s highest budgeted film at the time.

1hr. 33min.

Oliver and Company (1988)

Set in the streets of New York City, young Oliver is a kitten left in a cardboard box.  He is rescued by the Dodger (Billy Joel) a street-wise dog, who gives him a few pointers and then is going to leave him.  Oliver is not as easy to shake though and follows Dodger home.  There he meets the rest of the “family”; a motley crew of dogs who specialize in pick-pocketing.  Their leader is Fagin (Dom DeLuise) a man up to his neck in debt to Bill Sykes.  In the middle of “a job” Oliver is rescued by a rich little girl named Jenny.  It seems like he’s found a perfect home; except for Sykes, who will get his money one way or another.

Also featuring the voices of Bette Midler as the jealous and vain Poodle Georgette and Cheech Marin as Tito a Chihuahua.

1hr. 13min.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Quirky inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough, but no one except his wife (Marcia Strassman) and their kids (Amy O’Neill and Robert Oliveri) believe in him.  When an accident causes the Szalinski kids and their neighbors (Thomas Wilson Brown and Jared Rushton) to be shrunk to the size of bugs and put out with the trash, it’s up to the resourceful kids to battle through the biggest adventure of their lives; the Backyard!

Featuring some (still) impressive special effects, this film was a box office smash, opening at #2 behind Batman.

1hr. 33min.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

During the French Revolution the Scarlet Pimpernel (Anthony Andrews) is ingeniously saving families from the guillotine, while back home in England he plays the part of the rich fool Sir Percy.  While in France he meets the beautiful actress Marguerite (Jane Seymour). The two fall in love and marry, but the rumors started by the jealous Chauvelin (Ian McKellen) threaten to tear them apart.  All the while the Pimpernels most dangerous and daring rescues are about to commence.

2hr. 22min.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)

A mischievous fox named Todd (Mickey Rooney) and a young hound dog named Copper (Kurt Russell) become fast friends but are quickly separated by their masters.  After all, they are natural enemies.  When their paths cross again in adulthood they learn that even though they can’t live side by side, they will still have the memories of their bond.

Although serious and somewhat dark, this animated classic has plenty of humorous and touching moments. A must.

1hr. 23min.