Hercules is by far my favorite Disney movie. It has its flaws, like the half-assed soundtrack and the painful jokes that are only funny because you know they're supposed to be. But I love it for three reasons - the stretchy, geometric animation that was a departure in tone for Disney at the time (pretty much none of the characters translate well into dolls), the saucy, sultry voice work of the fabulous Susan Egan (why is she not a world-class superstar?), and the unbelievably dated references to the 90s (seriously, Charlton Heston actually utters the line, "You go, girl!").
I saw this movie in the theater when I was 13. Although even I knew at the time that I was a little old to be liking Disney movies, Hercules struck a chord with me because I was at the precise age where I was beginning to comprehend and embrace the idea of romantic love. (Yeah, I was kind of a late bloomer.) I was completely entranced with Hercules' and Meg's storyline, and for days afterward I replayed my favorite lines over and over in my head. "Sometimes people do crazy things when they're in love." "You're the most amazing person with weak ankles I've ever met." Awwww... Other movies that moved me in this way for this reason include: Titanic, Love Potion #9, and Crocodile Dundee. (God, I can't even look y'all in the eye right now.)
Viewing it now, I am struck by one thing - even though the good guys aren't Sunday-school-sickly-sweet good, I still can't help siding with the bad guy - Hades. Why? Because he's not evil. They try really hard to make him look evil. They talk a lot about how evil he is. But he doesn't act evil. He's honest, he does what he says he's going to do, and he always comes through on his promises. When Meg is injured by a falling column, Hercules gets his strength back - exactly as Hades promised. They pick on him for being hard on souls who try to escape from the River Styx, but really, he's just doing his job. Souls aren't supposed to return from the dead. He's just trying to keep the natural order of things. Even his reason for being evil is pretty understandable. Zeus and the Olympians shun him and treat him like some icky thing because of his job as Lord of the Underworld - a job that Zeus himself foisted onto Hades. Hell, I'd be pissed too.
I want to see a follow-up movie that tells the story of how Hades abducts Persephone into the underworld. Then I'd be able to get behind the idea of him being an asshole.