You never want to go back to a childhood favorite only to discover that it’s actually a bad movie. Yes, I used to love Anastasia when I was a kid; my family had the soundtrack, and we’d listen to it on road trips, my sister and I singing along at the top of our voices in the backseat. I was surprised to discover that, in this harmless fictional story about the lost princess of Russia and the con men who want to use her to make a buck, the parts that hold up best are the screenplay and the music. I had expected to find both cheesy; instead, I was charmed by the clever script and enthused by the catchy songs, which would actually translate really well to the stage. I could live without Rasputin and Bartok; they lend an air of stupidity to a story that holds up well on its own. I was disappointed by the animation, however; it looks hastily drawn, the product of a studio (Fox Animation Studios) that was just trying to catch up to Disney. But, in hindsight, the sketchy quality of the animation actually gives it a nostalgic charm.
Quicker take: No one could confuse this with Disney, but maybe that’s a good thing.