Total Recall: Best Live-Action Disney Movies
Which of the Mouse House's family-friendly romps comes out on top?
6. The Rookie
By 2002, the "inspirational sports movie" genre was seen as well past its prime -- and so was Dennis Quaid: one of the more bankable matinee idols of the 1980s, Quaid was suffering through a dry spell when he signed on for Disney's John Lee Hancock-directed dramatization of the brief-yet-noteworthy Major League Baseball career of high school teacher-turned-Tampa Bay Devil Ray pitcher Jimmy Morris. Like Morris himself, The Rookie was initially written off by many as an amiable relic of a bygone era -- but try as they might, most critics were too charmed by its true-life inspirational story, and Quaid's refreshingly low-key performance, to be cynical about the film. The Rookie earned a healthy return on Disney's $22 million investment, kick-started a new chapter in Quaid's career, and earned a surprising number of endorsements from critics like Looking Closer's Jeffrey Overstreet, who called it "one of those rare, wonderful 'formula' films that ... favors understatement over exaggeration, subtlety over sentimentality."
For a relatively lightweight rom-com, The Parent Trap has enjoyed an incredibly long life; not only was the original film re-released to theaters seven years after its theatrical debut, but Hayley Mills ended up reprising her dual roles for a trio of made-for-TV sequels more than 20 years later -- and the career-boosting power of the story of matchmaking twins who play Cupid for their divorced parents proved every bit as potent in 1998, when Lindsay Lohan starred in a remake. Part of Trap's appeal no doubt came from its pioneering use of the trick photography that made it appear as though Mills was actually her own twin -- a technique later used to notable effect on The Patty Duke Show two years later -- but even without special effects, The Parent Trap is a solid, albeit proudly corny, film that benefits from a strong performance by its winsome star. Mills' charms were even sufficient to win over more "serious" publications, such as Time, whose reviewer wrote, "Surprisingly, the film is delightful -- mostly because of 15-year-old Hayley Mills, the blonde button nose who played the endearing delinquent in Tiger Bay."