Brother Bear (2003) - You can tell that at this point, Disney was still working hard to produce a classic animated film. Set in the pre-historic Alaskan wilderness, the hand-drawn animation is as beautiful as usual. The story involves an Inuit youth who is turned into a bear after his revenge-killing of a mother bear and is in turn hunted by his own brother. Ironic, right? The themes of family and the futility of revenge are okay, but it's a tired story. Of note, Second City's McKenzie brothers appear as a couple of moose.
Home on the Range (2004) - Like The Emperor's New Groove, this is another attempt to capture the spirit of Looney Tunes, but, unlike that film, fails on a number of levels, including that the heroes are cows. (An ambitious choice that doesn't work.) This is likely the only movie you'll ever see that stars Roseanne Barr and Dame Judy Dench(!). The story is short, straight-forward and not that interesting, although kids might like it. The last traditionally animated Disney film for the next five years.
Chicken Little (2005) - This is the story of a young chicken who cries "The sky is falling" when it clearly isn't. Years later, he's still living that moment down when it turns out that he was right, and that aliens are responsible. This is mildly entertaining, but the plot is derailed when it inexplicably veers into a cliched sports story, with Chicken Little redeeming himself by winning a baseball game, before returning to the main plot. This diversion is obviously to pad out the run time and it's padding the film doesn't need.
Meet the Robinsons (2007) - I LOVE Meet the Robinsons, the story of a young, genius orphan, and master inventor, who finds his family in the future. The script is funny and touching and clever. Ironically, the only thing I don't love is the Robinsons themselves, who are a little too quirky for my taste. Still, this tale of time travel, an appealing future, shattered childhoods, and villainous headwear is one of my favorites, and features my favorite Disney villain of all time, The Bowler Hat Guy. Plus, the ending always brings tears to my eyes.
Bolt (2008) - I totally didn't realize this was a Disney film. Bolt is the story of an actor dog who plays a superhero in his own TV show, but doesn't realize he's in a show. Casting John Travolta as the dog was a weird choice. When Bolt gets lost and separated from his owner, he must face up to his lack of powers, and find his own strengths to return to her. Some fun, with the standout being a crazy hamster in a plastic ball, I thought this was mostly forgettable. It's not bad, it's just not great.