One of my least favorite experiences is to find a movie I loved in my single-digits, rewatch it in wonder, then wait half an hour (at most) and finally concede that it was a real stinker. I may sentimentalize movies from my youth, but not the ones that really don't deserve my affection.
This one does.
Crysta, a simple, innocent, and at times flippant fairy, is an imperfect but funny heroine, and as genuine as they come. Batty gives Robin Williams another character perfectly suited to his talent -- I watched this movie at a party with highschoolers and he went down great (everyone liked the movie overall, but Batty stole my friends' hearts). He has the genie sassy-but-kind vibe going, and it's hard not to think of him as just as much a main character as Crysta (or more). Zach... well, okay, Zach was unforgivably dumb for awhile, but it was gratifying to see him finally get it. Magi Lune's character was fascinating, a powerful sorceress with just a hint of weakness and sadness (as when she admits of the coming darkness that she "cannot heal it" and "cannot stop it"). She delivers sappy lines and instead of losing the audience emotionally, they resonate deeply. I think this is because the usual sentimentality and condescension you see in kids' movie whenever there's a "message" is totally absent -- Magi speaks her lines with total respect and love for Crysta. It is a deeply spiritual moment.
The animation is beautiful, visual joy; the script is full of entertaining flourishes, and Crysta's father is the most humorous roly-poly befuddled dad since the Sultan in Aladdin. I'm a huge Tim Curry fan, and he doesn't disappoint. But what makes this film stand out for me is how it handles its message.
The entire film is built around it, but it doesn't seem heavy-handed at all. As a kid, I was inspired by Crysta's comeback, and the idea of there being "magic" in all of us. As a teenager, it reached me even more: Crysta learns that, despite her youthful curiosity, real understanding and real power can come when she applies herself, and takes responsibility. In the beginning of the film, Crysta takes Magi for granted (and not too seriously), and there is a hint of rowdy teenager in the way she sneaks off to hang with a boy she likes. But she comes to understand that Magi is not infallible, and will not always be there to take care of her. She realizes that she loves Magi even though the woman can't always make everything alright, and eventually, Crysta learns that she, too, can take care of others. In short, Crysta matures, and it is insightfully handled and beautiful and affecting for me to watch. this, even more than the idea of conservation, is its message: the inspiration to learn that others cannot always help you, and that sometimes other people even *need* you -- the rainforest is really just another charge, desperately in need of help.