Disney/Pixar Movies, Ranked by Mommy Issues

The weekend Pixar’s Turning Red was released, Drew dropped by Autostraddle’s TV Team Slack to give her official review: “Turning Red is such good mommy issues cinema 😭!” Which of course made us really acknowledge the fact that — while Disney continues to drop the ball in basically every way when it comes to LGBTQ representation and fans — they’ve created SO MANY mommy issues movies. Which is pretty gay, actually. And so our whole team got together to rank 25 Disney/Pixar movies by Mommy Issues. We’d love to hear more about your own personal rankings in the comments!

25. Maleficent

Heather: I guess this is less “mommy issues” and more like “did Angelina Jolie turn you gay despite your own personal mom’s heterosexual pleadings?” Because that’s exactly what happened to basically every lesbian I know from the 90s.

24. Moana

Valerie: Moana’s mother is perfect how dare you.

Christina Tucker: Quite literally all the women of Moana are perfect!!!

Heather: And most of the men too, which is the only time I have ever said that, I think.

Christina Tucker: We must consider the coconut.

Drew Gregory: I think Moana’s issues are more with Mother Nature.

Christina: Who some call the ultimate mommy (citation needed).

Meg Jones Wall: The ocean is definitely Mommi.

23. The Lion King

Natalie: I’m not sure Simba has Mommy issues but he has Daddy issues galore.

22. The Little Mermaid

Christina Tucker: Classic Daddy issues girl.

Heather: You know who does have mommy issues though? Ariel’s daughter who trades in her legs and lungs and goes BACK TO THE SEA.

21. The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Drew: This is Jo McGuire slander. She has only her daughter’s best interests at heart!!

Em: When I first watched the scene when Lizzie says bye to her mom I, too, was secretly tearing up. I’m giving this a hard three out of five for her mommy issues and also my own.

20. The Princess and the Frog

Natalie: Tiana clearly has daddy issues not mommy issues.

Em: Tiana is my queen and gets 10s across the board always. She has that whole restaurant with her mom in “Almost There” but like… the whole plot is about making her dad’s gumbo.

19. Finding Nemo

Drew: This correctly being ranked so low even though Nemo’s mom DIES at the beginning. Disney is sick.

18. Beauty and the Beast

Drew: I think Belle is more a daddy issues girl. So desperate not to end up with a man like her nice, bumbling father that she falls for a beast.

Em: Although in the remake they have that whole moment where the Beast takes Belle back in time and she watches her mom die right in front of her.

Drew: Oh my God I forgot! Definitely extra points for that.

17. The Princess Diaries

Heather: Mia’s mom’s dating her teacher and her secret grandma’s the Queen of Genovia?  Goodbye, trolley people!

16. Robin Hood

Casey: Maid Marian is a Mommi and Robin Hood is a hot dad, does that count?

Heather: I love queer people. I’m like “please rank these movies by mommy issues” and y’all are like “mph this cartoon fox is daddy!”

15. Cinderella

Christina Tucker: I famously do not recognize this Cinderella as in my mind the only one that exists is the Brandy/Whitney one and my word Bernadette Peters in that film is a terror and also (say it with me!!!) a root!!

Drew: Step mommy issues are still mommy issues!

Christina Tucker: Say THAT.

14. Raya and the Last Dragon

Christina Tucker: I don’t know that Raya has mommy issues, but wow her enemy slash girlfriend Namaari sure does! Sandra Oh as your mom with that hair? She didn’t have a chance.

Heather: Villanelle understands.

13. Peter Pan

Christina Tucker: God I hate this smug fuck, get a job!!! Stop making Wendy take care of you!

Casey: I am confused as to why this one doesn’t have all 5s. Peter Pan and the lost boys have the biggest mommy issues ever!! All they want is for Wendy to be their mom! I am reminded that at some point in my failed PhD I wrote a paper on the book about Wendy being a queer mother but I do not recall any of my evidence now, sadly.

Christina Tucker: In fairness I forgot to vote because I hate him so much.

Em: Wait but Tinkerbell FOR SURE has mommy issues.


12. Mulan

Heather: I know Mulan doesn’t really have mommy issues, but I wish we could have seen her mom react to her chopping off her whole entire hair with a sword! Classic bisexual coming out move.

11. Hercules

Em: Do we know anything about her parents at all? The fact that her background is pretty much obtuse gives me hard mommy issues vibez.

Heather: Girl you can’t deny it
Who you are is how you’re feeling
Baby we’re not buying
Hon we saw you hit the ceiling
Face it like a grown-up
When you gonna own up that you got got got it bad
(Mommy issues)

10. Mary Poppins

Heather: Julie Andrews, Original Mommi. The only person on this list as much as her is Sandra Oh.

9. The Incredibles

Christina Tucker: This is tough because I feel like Elasti-girl is objectively perfect but hearing Holly Hunter’s voice is enough to send me into an hours long spiral

Heather: My dad went to high school with Holly Hunter and was in love with her, and his biggest crush when I was growing up was Jodie Foster. Do you think my dad’s a lesbian too?

Christina Tucker: I do, the science on this is simply irrefutable.

Carmen: I refuse to sell Elasti-girl out like this. I just quite simply r e f u s e.

8. Parent Trap

Christina Tucker: Look the premise of this movie is so far beyond simple mommy issues that is literally boggles the mind BUT Natasha Richardson is so luminous?? And that moment where Hallie confesses that she is not in fact Annie and is worried Elizabeth won’t like her???

Carmen: The evil soon-to-be stepmom in Parent Trap is the root for a lot of gays of a specific age, and that can’t be for nothing.

Christina Tucker: She IS very hot and very mean (extra hot) but she is TWENTY SIX and that is simply not a Mommi to me.

7. Bambi

Carmen: BAMBI?!??! How dare you. Now I have to go cry somewhere. HIS MOTHER DIED CAN WE HAVE NO PEACE!?!?

6. Brave

Heather: I actually had to leave the theater and sit in the parking lot and cry by myself for like an hour during the climax of this movie, when she’s trying to SAVE HER MOM and is FAILING. I don’t even think I know how this movie ends?

Drew: This movie falls into that frustrating sweet spot where I think it’s really underrated but not quite good enough for me to declare it as some sort of ignored masterpiece. That said its mommy issues bonafides are undeniable.

Valerie: If this had musical numbers it would have been one of my favorites of all time.

Drew: Okay yes that’s what it needed.

Christina Tucker: WHY DOES THIS NOT HAVE SONGS?? But BOY does it have Mommy issues.

5. Dumbo

Heather: You know, Disney doesn’t just not support gay and trans people; they actively tried to destroy our lives when we were children. “Get ready for Bury Your Gays with a little warm up called BURY YOUR PARENTS!”

4. Cruella

Heather: I don’t think we have talked enough about the fact that Cruella became who she was because a wild pack of rabid Dalmatians shoved her mother off a cliff!

Carmen: … it’s because we all politely blocked this movie out of our memory, I think.

Em: IDK I think the mommy issues in this movie are low key hot.

3. Frozen

Heather: Elsa doesn’t just have mommy issues; she is absolutely going to give her icy little magical daughters mommy issues for life.

Christina Tucker: The one two punch of “Into The Unknown” and “Show Yourself” in Frozen 2 is really something, like that much harmonizing with your dead mother cannot be good for the mind

Drew: I remain a “Frozen 2’s songs were written for a lesbian love story then retrofitted to be about Elsa’s mother” truther.

Christina Tucker: Harrowing how close those two things can be.

Himani: I feel like Elsa’s story, especially in Frozen 2, is the ultimate Mommi issue of people from non-white or non-mainstream heritages trying to navigate a white world. Which I get that Elsa & Ana are both white passing, but the whole indigenous mother storyline is where it’s really at.

2. Tangled

Yash: What emoji is “this is the mommyest of mommy issues”?

Drew: Who among us hasn’t been locked in a tower by our overbearing mothers (metaphorically)?

Christina Tucker: Donna Murphy’s performance of “Mother Knows Best” is unfortunately extremely hot to me.

Valerie: Me and my mommy issues watched this movie three (3) times in a row the first time I saw it.

Yash: This is the kind of movie that becomes a recurring touchpoint/motif in therapy.

Valerie: I once went down an entire rabbit hole of a theory that Meg from Hercules is Mother Gothel. It was flawed, of course, but very compelling.

1. Turning Red

Drew: I know there’s a Disney movie with a princess literally locked in a tower but this still wins for me. The moment where she comforts her mom as a child because of HER mommy issues??? Mommy Issues Inception.

Valerie: This movie gave my mommy issues mommy issues.

Christina Tucker: I have not been ready to watch this film and this is NOT helpful.

Natalie: Yeah, this has to be #1 overall. Mommy issues on top of Mommy issues.

Carmen: I specifically joined in on this just so I could vote for this movie. The be all and end all of Mommy Issues Pixar Movies (*patent pending).

Em: This movie ended me.

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  1. If Bury Your Parents was the precursor to Bury Your Gays, how soon until we have a Bury Your Gay Parents crossover?


    Brave should get extra points for the meta mommy issue of the fact that Pixar replaced Brenda Chapman – the original director – with some guy who had never directed a feature. And it shows – you can feel the seams.


    Inquiring minds want to know – did Inside Out get mentioned?

  2. “Mommy Issues Inception” lmao. That scene is a literal replicate of how I process my mommy issues at 3 in the morning.

    Also, love the Killing Eve reference. Talking about Sandra Oh and mommi issues, Umma is another movie. Although definitely not Disney content (unless you do associate it with horror). Her daughter, played Fivel Stewart, who is Izzie on Atypical, is maybe queer?

  3. “Frozen 2’s songs were written for a lesbian love story then retrofitted to be about Elsa’s mother”

    YES i love this theory and agree 1000%

    also, no Aladdin? or Pocahontas? or Tarzan?
    i don’t think i ever realized how many Disney movies feature dead moms specifically. dead parents in general sure, that’s been discussed many times, but there’s a very disproportionate number of princesses raised by single dads

  4. Hercules should be higher, because film Hercules’ mother is Hera and any good queer will know that Hera canonically tries to kill Hercules. With snakes. In his crib. As a BABY.

    I at least have issues with Disney trying to portray that as a happy family >.>

  5. Love the topic and examples, very entertaining…fun read….

    Glad I wasn’t the only one who hated peter pan…the boys were spoiled brats….

    Saw turning red a couple of weeks ago and can’t argue with the analysis….

  6. My 13yo noticed the parentified child scene in Turning Red and I wasn’t about to point out that their favorite Disney movie when they were younger was Tangled. They’ll figure it out in therapy later.

  7. Believe it or not, I love all of these movies. Most of the story lines do have some problems, And it is such a paradox that I love them anyway, pick up on small queer references, and try to remake or reimagine them in my own mind. it is definitely not lost on me that most Disney moms are either missing in action or cruel. In fact, most Disney fathers are strict and forbidding. I can’t watch King Triton from the Little mermaid without feeling like I’m looking at and listening to my own dad in one of his fits of rage. It’s no surprise to any of us what will happen after the Disney princesses jump into the arms of their prince, and the credits roll. It will probably be more tyranny and patriarchy. Just like family patterns of intergenerational trauma. Those poor souls will leap from the fire to the frying pan. I really like the fact that there are some exceptions today. I really loved Moana, Princess and the frog, and frozen one and two!! I am so, so disappointed that Elsa didn’t get a girlfriend in frozen two! But that is not surprising to me either.

  8. As an eleven year old with red hair in 1998, I overly identified with Hallie and Annie in the Parent Trap and I simply did not know what to do with the overwhelming feelings Natasha Richardson was giving me! The slow mo run down the stairs where Hallie leaps into her arms oh my god

  9. Encanto? Bruno has to leave his own house because he think he is useless for the perfect family. Pepa always has to control her emotion. The issue lasts to Mirabel’s generation, everyone should be perfect and helpful to la casa and the whole village.
    Or the movie isn’t good enough to be on the list?

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