The Sword in the Stone. When I was a kid, I loved this movie. As an adult, I still love this movie; more, in fact. When I say this movie is underrated, what I mean is that this movie doesn’t get the love it deserves. Also, I guess, it got mixed reviews when it was released 56 years ago.
Allow me to explain why this movie is fantastic.
1. It Teaches Kids the Importance of Learning and Perseverance
“Get [an education] first, and who knows [what will happen next]?”
“Don’t go around thinking magic will solve all your problems, because it won’t!”
“Boy, you can’t grow up without a decent education.”
Apart from these direct quotes, the whole runtime of this movie is Arthur being taught what he needs to know. Arthur keeps resisting, saying he “isn’t of proper birth” and “what good will [an education] do?” but he is still pushed relentlessly to just keep trying. Nobody knows that he will be crowned king in the end, and that’s the most important part of the lesson. Arthur’s education and growth is pushed even though nobody knows if it will actually do anything in the end.
Few (I emphasize: few) lessons are more important for children to learn than that.
2. It’s Hilarious (Without the Humor Ruining It)
I can’t get enough of that wolf. The wolf who utterly fails at being a wolf. Weird that I didn’t find him funny as a child at all, but he somehow is now that I’m nearly 30.
But every character is hilarious in this. Somehow, it doesn’t ruin the movie nor their character development.
3. It’s Charming
At no point in this movie is anything overdone. It keeps a steady pace the entire time. That always gives movies a charm. Easy to watch, easy to absorb, easy to have resonate. This is a large part of what makes it so easy to love this movie. What I particularly love about this movie is something that pretty much no other movie, anywhere, can ever do, ever: It doesn’t have a single moment of overdone action or drama. It’s just a smooth ride all the way through, like driving at 30mph for an hour-and-a-half. Your emotions are never taken to the extreme in either direction, not even for a moment, except for a very brief moment of danger once or twice.
For the sake of nuance, I’m not saying this is a flawless movie. Every movie has flaws, even my favorite, Schindler’s List. The animation in particular seems lazy to me. Not the appearance of the animation, but the use of it. Pay attention, and you’ll notice A LOT of this movie’s animations repeat themselves. I also really don’t like how the movie ends (literally the last line) with a line from Merlin that only the audience would understand, not Arthur, all for the sake of a joke. But the movie isn’t full of those, like every Disney movie does today.
Overall, fantastic movie. Not just highly entertaining, but also important for kids to watch. I love it even more as an adult than I did as a child. (It’s the last movie Walt Disney worked on that got released in his lifetime.)