Here Are the Best Movies to Mix Animation with Live Action, Ranked

Here Are the Best Movies to Mix Animation with Live Action, Ranked

The combination of live-action video footage and animation dates back to almost as far as the two art forms themselves.The Enchanted Drawing, created in 1900, featured a live-action man interacting with an animated face on an easel, as he grabbed drawn objects and brought them through into real-life. This was followed by a number of animated shorts from a number of different studios, including Disney with its series of silent shorts throughout the 1920s called the Alice Comedies starring live-action girl Alice and cartoon cat.

Disney then went all-out with its feature length cartoon live action hybrid Song of the South. From then on, these hybrids became a huge part of Hollywood, garnering just as much recognition and success as their fully animated or fully live-action counterparts. From the 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Mary Poppins (1964) right through to recent attempts like Tom and Jerry (2021), family-oriented movie Detective Pikachu (2019) and Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021), the genre continues to thrive — as further evidenced by the number of highly anticipated hybrid projects in production, including a Pink Panther movie and a Hello Kitty movie, as well as the Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog sequels. Out of literally 100s to choose from, here is our choice of the 8 best movies that mix animation with live action, ranked.

Related: Every Best Animated Feature Film Oscar-Winner of the 2010s, Ranked

8 Sonic the Hedgehog


Expectations for 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog movie were not high. First and foremost, Hollywood has had a very rocky relationship with video game adaptations in the past, with most completely missing the mark. Secondly, there was the outrageous and downright creepy CGI rendering of Sonic. Everyone’s favorite superspeed blue hedgehog now sported smaller eyes, human-like teeth, a gaunt face, and realistic body fur — truly a thing of nightmares.

Anyway, as these concerns were voiced in their masses via social media, the studio took note. The result was a family-friendly live-action thrill ride featuring a newly designed CGI Sonic. The movie went on to become a box office smash hit with two sequels quickly being announced. Particular praise was also given to Jim Carrey, for his return to form role as the whack villain Dr Robotnik.

7 The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

7th Voyage of Sinbad, Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Ray Harryhausen is somewhat of a legend when it comes to the history of stop-motion animation. After spending many years as a lone animator toiling away in his garage animating dinosaurs, building puppets, and just exploring the medium, by the 1950s he’d begun to make a name for himself adding animated sequences for some of the biggest movies of the time. Known for his work on Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), and 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) is by far his most well-known and celebrated, even to this day. With a cool 100{a804659bb65d18cb4a6dc8e7d034c3e09b42584b41147982650930584377f6e7} score on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie sees Sinbad battling all kinds of monsters and enemies animated straight from Harryhausen’s imagination, including skeleton warriors, dragons and a cyclops.

6 Osmosis Jones

Osmosis Jones, Wartner Bros
Osmosis Jones, Wartner Bros

One of the most underrated movies of all time, Osmosis Jones was watched by almost no one at the time of its release. Directing duties were split between Piet Kroon and Tom Sito for the animated parts and the Farrelly brothers for the live-action sequences. The film centers on a slovenly zookeeper, Frank, played by Bill Murray, who contracts a deadly virus known as Thrax. The live-action sequences are set outside his body while the animated sequences are set inside his body, which is depicted as a city inhabited by anthropomorphic parameciums. In the animated sequences, white blood cell cop Osmosis “Ozzy” Jones and cold pill Drixenol “Drix” Koldreliff attempt to prevent virus Thrax from killing Frank. The concept may sound ridiculous or maybe even a not so subtle attempt at education, but, in fact, there is plenty of great humor and action throughout helped by a strong voice cast including Chris Rock, Laurence Fishburne, Brandy, William Shatner, Kid Rock and Ron Howard.

5 Space Jam

Space Jam, Warner Bros.
Space Jam, Warner Bros.

Space Jam brought together the biggest and most well-known basketball star of all time with some of the biggest and most well-known cartoon characters of all time (namely Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny) using cutting edge CGI technology. Naturally, expectations for Space Jam for children growing up in the 90s were insanely high, and fortunately it (mostly) delivered on those expectations. Perhaps a slight case of style over substance, the movie delivered a fun and frantic hour and a half of Looney Tune b-ball action. It was exciting to see the characters in 3D interacting with real life people, the soundtrack was absolutely amazing, and that Bill Murray cameo is classic.

4 Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Walt Disney
Walt Disney

Set against a wartime backdrop, the story follows a friendly witch and three young children as they use an enchanted bed to travel into a fantasy land to foil encroaching German troops. It’s safe to say Bedknobs and Broomsticks is now widely considered a bonafide classic, at the time of it release, however, it was often compared (negatively) to Disney’s previous animation/live action crossover – Mary Poppins. When viewed in its own light, as its own entity, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a fun family outing with plenty of heart, a sprinkle of adventure, a stellar performance from Angela Lansbury and an impressive use of animation in a live action movie which saw the film win an Oscar for Best Special Visual Effects.

3 Enchanted

Enchanted, Walt Disney
Walt Disney

Enchanted truly was a pleasure to behold, combining live-action filmmaking, traditional animation, and computer-generated imagery, the film is both a homage to and a self-parody of Disney’s animated features, making numerous references to past works throughout. The fish-out-of-water story focuses on an archetypal Disney Princess who is forced from her animated world into the gritty reality of the live-action world of New York City. A huge critical and commercial hit, a sequel, entitled Disenchanted is reported to be in the works and will be premiering on Disney+ it’s just surprising it’s taken this long.

Related: Every Live-Action Disney Princess Movie, Ranked

2 Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins,  Walt Disney

Nominated for 13 Academy Awards and winning five including Best Visual Effects and Best Actress for Julie Andrews as the titular character (her first ever major role), it’s not surprising Mary Poppins was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film follows ‘magical’ nanny Mary Poppins, who visits a dysfunctional family in London and employs her unique brand of lifestyle to improve the family’s dynamic. The fantastic inclusion of animation in this live action feature sees Mary Poppins flying above rooftops with her umbrella and Dick Van Dyke dancing with penguins.

1 Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Roger Rabbit Disney
Walt Disney

The movie is set in a 1940s alternate version of Hollywood where cartoon and people co-exist, the film follows Eddie Valiant, a private investigator (played by Bob Hoskins, with perfect noir panache) who must exonerate Roger Rabbit, a toon who has been framed for the murder of the Acme Corporation’s owner. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was nothing short of groundbreaking. It marked the first time classic characters from the vaults of Walt Disney were ever seen on screen with characters from the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes’ canon, bringing about a renewed interest in the Golden age of American animation, whilst simultaneously spearheading the Disney Renaissance. It won three Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects and received a Special Achievement Academy Award for its animation direction by Williams, a true testament to the brilliance of this gem.

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