The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Disney's take on the Victor Hugo classic is dramatically uneven, but its strong visuals, dark themes, and message of tolerance make for a more-sophisticated-than-average children's film.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Photos

Movie Info

After the critical and commercial success of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, the Walt Disney Pictures animation studio embarked on their most serious and ambitious animated feature to date with this adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel Notre Dame de Paris. Quasimodo (voice of Tom Hulce) is a grotesquely deformed but kind-hearted young man who was abandoned by his parents as an infant and thrown down a well; he was rescued by the priests of Notre Dame, the massive cathedral in the heart of Paris, and he lives there, earning his keep as a bell ringer. Quasimodo has become the ward of Judge Frollo (voice of Tony Jay), an outwardly pious but deeply hateful man who treats Quasimodio with indifference and violently loathes the Gypsies who spend their days in the cathedral's courtyard. Frollo hopes to clear the Gypsies out of Paris with the help of Phoebus (voice of Kevin Kline), leader of the troops under Frollo's command. However, Phoebus does not share Frollo's racist views and harbors no ill will against the Gypsies. When Quasimodo is crowned King of the Fools after leaving Notre Dame during the annual festival of Topsy Turvy Day, the hunchback is ordered beaten by the guards as punishment, but Esmerelda (voice of Demi Moore), a hot-blooded but compassionate gypsy beauty, shows pity on him and helps free him from his chains. The lovely Esmerelda is the first woman to show kindness to the unfortunate Quasimodo, and the hunchback soon falls in love with her. However, the dashing Phoebus is also infatuated with her, and Esmerelda is attracted to Phoebus as well, though she feels a motherly affection for the hunchback. Judge Frollo finds that he also desires Esmerelda, which only inflames his hatred for the Gypsies when she refuses his proposals. Darker and less outwardly comic than most of Disney's features, The Hunchback of Notre Dame does feature comic relief in the form of Victor (voice of Charles Kimbrough) and Hugo (voice of Jason Alexander), a pair of gargoyles who befriend Quasimodo, as well as several songs from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Rating:
G
Genre:
Animation , Drama , Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Walt Disney Feature Animation

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Cast

Tom Hulce
as Quasimodo
Demi Moore
as Esmeralda
Tony Jay
as Frollo
Kevin Kline
as Phoebus
Paul Kandel
as Clopin
Mary Wickes
as Laverne
David Ogden Stiers
as Archdeacon
Corey Burton
as Brutish Guard
Jim Cummings
as Misc. Guards and Gypsies
Patrick Pinney
as Misc. Guards and Gypsies
Gary Trousdale
as The Old Heretic
Jane Withers
as Laverne in additional dialogue
Tim Pigott-Smith
as Pierre Gringoire
Joan Barber
as Additional Voices
Scott Barnes
as Additional Voices
Susan Blu
as Additional Voices
Maureen Brennan
as Additional Voices
Rodger Bumpass
as Additional Voices
Victoria Clark
as Additional Voices
Philip L. Clarke
as Additional Voices
Jennifer Darling
as Additional Voices
Jonathan Dokuchitz
as Additional Voices
Laurie Faso
as Additional Voices
Merwin Foard
as Additional Voices
Dana Hill
as Additional Voices
Judy Kaye
as Additional Voices
Eddie Korbich
as Additional Voices
Alix Korey
as Additional Voices
Michael Lindsay
as Additional Voices
Mona Marshall
as Additional Voices
Anna McNeely
as Additional Voices
Bruce Moore
as Additional Voices
Denise Pickering
as Additional Voices
Philip Proctor
as Additional Voices
Peter Samuel
as Additional Voices
Stanley Gordon
as Additional Voices
Mary Stout
as Additional Voices
Marcelo Tubert
as Additional Voices
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News & Interviews for The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Critic Reviews for The Hunchback of Notre Dame

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (16)

The result is a grand cartoon cathedral, teeming with gargoyles and treachery, hopeless love and tortured lust.

Full Review… | September 2, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Surely one of Disney's ugliest and least imaginative efforts.

Full Review… | September 2, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Disney has created a movie that, like Quasimodo himself, is half formed.

Full Review… | September 2, 2008
Washington Post
Top Critic

There is much to admire in Hunchback, not least the risk of doing such a downer of a story at all.

Full Review… | July 22, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Though Alan Menken's music misses the big tune that would cap Stephen Schwartz's nimble lyrics, it's the thematic sophistication that brings the movie to life, making older children and adults its best audience.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Gorgeous but dark -- not the usual Disney experience.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Hunchback of Notre Dame

½

The heavy changes in the original story, like its inevitable softening to be more palatable for children, may displease some, but still it tackles serious themes with a lot of wonderful songs and spectacular visuals, among the best that Disney has ever put on screen.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

One of Disney's boldest and darkest animated films (there certainly hasn't been anything like it since), "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is surprising in both the level of thematic substance and the detail in the animation. It tries to juggle the sophisticated Victor Hugo plot with Disney conventions to far less success (those gargoyles are less comic relief and more an annoying tonal inconsistency), but like its protagonist, this film goes largely hidden within Disney's sparkling legacy -- and that's a shame.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

The film has its glaring flaws. I could do without the childish gargoyles (obvious pandering to kids) and without the lazy and annoying puns that are scattered about the screenplay. However, despite these barriers towards the film's potential of being a true masterpiece, it is undeniable what dark issues this animated film remarkably addresses. In terms of quality it is a mixed bag, but it is impossible not to be moved by its powerful message. All in all, The Hunchback should be recognized as having some of the most brilliant and most beautiful scenes ever to have been done in animation (i.e. the fantastic opening, "Out There," and the Hellfire scene). It should also be noted that while the film fails at creating likable comic reliefs (the gargoyles are, once again, unbearable), it succeeds at intertwining this underlying theme of damnation and hellfire throughout its stunning music, visuals, and storyline. Pretty advanced for a kid's movie, don't you think? If we could crawl into a time machine and redo this film, taking out the gargoyles and taking out the silly jokes, it might be one of the greatest animated films of all time. But we can't. Instead, let us marvel at the masterpieces within the film and wonder what it would be like to watch a fully consistent, fully brilliant, fully awe-inspiring Hunchback, as opposed to a mix of brilliance and childish humor. The ultimate problem with the Hunchback is that one has to get past the childishness to appreciate the brilliance underneath.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

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