YMMV: Pocahontas

  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: The lyrics to "Savages" had to be changed when concerns about racism toward the Indians came up. However, viewers seemed to be fine with the prejudice of the Indians toward the white settlers.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Kocoum: brave, strong, deeply concerned for Pocahontas' well being and unfairly dismissed by her? Or a xenophobic, aggressive idiot prone to violent solutions who couldn't take no for an answer?
    • Nakoma: a good and caring friend who deserves no blame for what happened, or meddlesome and ignorant to Pocahontas' true feelings?
      • Also, did Nakoma send Kocoum to find John Smith and Pocahontas together because she was worried for Pocahontas, or was she hoping that it would lead Kocoum to spurn Pocahontas and free him up for herself?
    • Was John in love with Pocahontas, or the peaceful, unrestrained viewpoint she represented?
  • Angst? What Angst?: "I've been through worse scrapes than this." Although he was probably just faking nonchalance to reassure Pocahontas.
  • Anvilicious: "They're not like you and me, which means they must be evil."
    • Given that the director of the film came up with the idea after seeing the 1992 LA Riots, one could argue Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
    • One ad for the film consisted of nothing but the song "Colors of the Wind" in its entirety. Out of context, it comes across as even more preachy.
  • Awesome Music: Alan Menken scored the film, and boy did he deliver. "Farewell" is especially powerful. "Colors of the Wind" may be divisive but it's still pretty darn awesome. "Steady As The Beating Drum" is also quite underrated. And "If I Never Knew You," reinserted for the Anniversary special DVD, is considered one of the best love songs in the Disney canon.
  • Broken Base: "Colors Of The Wind" is either one of the best and catchiest songs to come out of the Disney Renaissance or a very overrated and/or Anvilicious song that is overshadowed by the other songs in the movie.
  • Designated Hero: Simply being the heroine's pet makes Meeko a "good guy" despite his downright sadistic actions toward Percy and, to an extent, Our Man Flit.
  • Designated Villain:
    • Because he was originally Ratcliffe's dog, Percy is expected to be viewed as a villain, even though he's really just a victim bystander along for the ride. Meeko started all of the conflicts.
    • Ratcliffe himself could be seen as this for most of the movie, where he's mostly a greedy, xenophobic Jerkass who isn't any more unreasonable than Powhatan, until the very end when he crosses the line by trying to shoot the Indians when they've already agreed to peace.
  • Ear Worm: Three words: Mine, Mine, Mine.
    • Que, que, natora, you will understand.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: If there's one character everybody loves, it's Grandmother Willow.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Ratcliffe's little pink bows and pigtails. And let's not get started on the solid gold outfit he wears in his Dream Sequence.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In America this movie was mostly met with So Okay, It's Average. Meanwhile in Norway this was one of the most successful movies of the Disney Renaissance, rivaling The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and has only clearly beaten by The Lion King and Aladdin in terms of popularity. It did quite well in the rest of Europe too.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Mel Gibson voices someone who reconciles two warring races and falls in love with a woman of another ethnicity, and Christian Bale plays a meek, gentle and not-exactly-prone-to-violence-or-anger sailor. Fast-forward ten-fifteen years and Mel Gibson is yelling racial slurs at a certain race in general and his girlfriend in particular, and Christian Bale has become infamous for an on-set rant at the director of photography.
    • Ratcliffe and Wiggins both seem to have an Ambiguously Gay status. Both characters were voiced by David Ogden Stiers, who would later come out as being gay himself.
    • Ratcliffe laments how he's apparently "never been a popular man" to Wiggins; almost as if he knew exactly how audiences would come to view him later, as Ratcliffe normally classifies as one of the least popular Disney villains of that era.
    • The line "The ladies at court will be all a-twitter" in "Mine, Mine, Mine" has become a lot funnier with the ascension of Twitter.
    • Christian Bale would also go on to play Pocahontas' husband John Rolfe ten years later in The New World. Also Irene Bedard's Pocahontas has a Missing Mom as motivation. Irene Bedard would also play Pocahontas's mother in that same film.
    • Also about Christian Bale, the Memetic Mutation "BATMAN SHOT KOCOUM"
    • Thomas is the hero Jamestown deserves.
  • Ho Yay: John and Thomas, for a certain section of the fandom.
    • Pocahontas and Nakoma.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Kind of. The film ends with a "happy ending" in which the settlers and natives come to terms with each other. Anyone with the vaguest knowledge of history knows this will last about three seconds before relations go south for about 300 years.
    • Unless you count the film as complete fiction and interpret the ending as the settlers permanently returning to England. After all, there was no gold in Virginia, so why would they stay? Again, only if you regard the film as fiction.
  • Love It or Hate It: The movie itself is one, moreso than any other entry in the Disney Renaissance: one side will paint it as a beautiful, Scenery Porn-laden fable with a love story worthy of a live action film and simply had the bad luck to directly follow The Lion King. The other will paint it as a pretentious, preachy and boring movie with a lame villain, dull protagonists and an unmemorable story.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Ratcliffe wasn't well liked as mentioned being The Scrappy among the Disney Villains below, but he crossed it when he still decides to attack the natives even after Powhatan spares John Smith.
  • Narm:
    • During the song, "Savages", it gets a bit too dramatic when Ratcliffe and the settlers are seen projected on a waterfall.
      • And the random entourage of birds and animals, including a deer, that follow Pocahontas as she races to save John Smith.
    • The way Thomas says "You shot him!" when Ratcliffe shoots John Smith.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Christian Bale as Thomas.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Pocahontas herself gets this a lot with regards to Kocoum. While it can be argued that she didn't give him much interest, people treat her as some manipulative harlot and portray Kocoum as the Dogged Nice Guy. They call Pocahontas kissing John Smith as "stabbing him in the back". This is ignoring that Pocahontas had no romantic interest in Kocoum at all and she was just told she would be marrying him - she had no say in it at all. And Kocoum most likely only wanted to marry her because she was The Chief's Daughter.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Meeko, for being an annoying Jerkass Designated Hero who tortures Percy for no apparent reason.
    • Ratcliffe is an unusual example in that, as a villain, he's meant to be disliked. However, he's disliked for a different reason than most other Disney Villains - he just isn't cool enough or menacing enough. Like the rest of the movie, he had the bad luck to be following The Lion King, which had Scar, who not only was more effective and menacing as a villain, but far cooler. To add insult to injury, Ratcliffe was followed by a villain who was even MORE evil than Scar: Frollo, who was succeeded by the genuinely likable and cool Hades, who was followed by Shan Yu, Plus, the Disney Renaissance had previously given us Faux Affably Evil villains like McLeach and Jafar, the absolutely terrifying Ursula, and the Memetic Badass that is Gaston. Ratcliffe just couldn't cut it compared to the otherwise-stellar track record of Disney Renaissance villains.
      • And in the end, Ratcliffe ended up the most hated villain of all Renaissance villains to a lot of kids who grew up in the 90s and 00s. Why, you ask? Because he ruined a perfectly good happy ending and wasn't likeable/cool enough to make up for it.
      • Ratcliffe is Rescued from the Scrappy Heap for some in the DTV sequel of all things due to being a more competent threat there as opposed to just a greedy buffoon. It also helps that the way his mouth is animated is hilariously bizarre.
  • Signature Song: "Colors of the Wind". Helped along by the earliest trailers for the film consisting of nothing but this song (and Pocahontas introducing herself to John).
  • So Okay, It's Average: A more common reception nowadays, while not very many people are able to claim that this is a masterpiece, there are thousands of people who agree that it's no where near Disney's worst offering.
  • Tough Act to Follow: It had to follow up on The Lion King.
  • Vindicated by History: Not to the extent of some other Renaissance movies like The Rescuers Down Under, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules but reception to this movie has warmed slightly. This is due to a variation of Seinfeld Is Unfunny - this was one of the first animated films to fictionalise actual historical events and other films would later do similar things such as Anastasia. It is also received better by the children who were fans of it when it first came out and still embrace it now they're older.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Pocahontas herself. She had 55 animators involved in designing her and is regarded as one of the most beautifully and realistically animated Disney characters. Her movements were helped by Rotoscoping.
  • What an Idiot:
    • "The rest of you, take out your shovels! It's time to start digging!" In Virginia. For gold. At a random spot in the middle of the woods. Yeah, great plan, Ratcliffe!
    • No gold is found. The natives inform the invaders gold isn't a known thing in their land. What is Ratcliffe's "logical" reaction? "THE INDIANS ARE HIDING THE GOLD LET'S ATTACK THEM!"
    • Kocoum was told the white men were dangerous and carried sticks that could shoot fire - he saw the effect of it himself when his friend Nanuteck was shot in the leg. So what does he do when he sees John Smith kiss Pocahontas? Charge screaming.
    • Oh, no! John Smith has just been shot! What will you do, O great leader Thomas? Why, send him back on a five-month-long voyage to England with inadequate medical care! What a wise and just leader!
  • Pochahantas herself. She jumps off a cliff within a minute of being introduced, later goes over a waterfall, puts herself in complete range of a bullet, picks up a bear cub right in front of it's parent, and stands up to her father by putting herself in harm's way. If this wasn't a G-rated movie, she would clearly be suicidal.