With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country.
Inspired by Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist". A homeless kitten named Oliver, roams the streets of New York, where he is taken in by a gang of homeless mutts who survive by stealing from others. During one of these criminal acts, Oliver meets a wealthy young girl named Jenny Foxworth. This meeting will forever change his life.Written by
This movie has an unmistakable 1980s vibe that gives it a certain charm. Viewers familiar with "Oliver Twist" will find it interesting how Dickens's story is adapted around dogs and their owners in modern-day New York City.
Billy Joel impresses as the voice of Dodger, a mutt with New York attitude. He's joined in the cast by Cheech Marin, Bette Midler, and Dom DeLuise (as a derelict Fagin).
The best character, in my mind, is the city itself. This is definitely a New York City movie, tapping into the city's personality and capturing many of the landmarks in the animation.
The movie has a visual aesthetic that is not quite like the style of other Disney films, which is kind of cool. There's some great character animation, such as with the imposing villain Sykes (Robert Loggia). CGI framework is used effectively throughout the film to animate cars and things.
OLIVER & COMPANY is definitely a product of its time: the late 1980s. The movie is dated by the clothing worn by the humans, the models of the cars, the music (smooth and synthesizery, with the main title song sung by Huey Lewis), the gritty urban look, and even the character designs (see the hot dog vendor or the hairspray-loving canine Rita).
In a superficial way, OLIVER & COMPANY reminds me of THE RESCUERS. Both have a unique aesthetic "feel" that strays from the classic Disney style and seems to capture the sensibilities of the times. OLIVER is as quintessentially 1988 as THE RESCUERS is 1977. (Both films also portray contemporary New York City, involve animals helping a cute little girl, and explore some dark and emotional territory.) OLIVER & COMPANY is dated, but gloriously so.
The next animated film released by Disney would be THE LITTLE MERMAID (1989), which launched the company's 1990s renaissance of timeless masterpieces, shaped by Alan Menken's Broadway-influenced musical direction. It's interesting to see the quaint, contemporary style of OLIVER, knowing that Disney would soon go off in a different direction.
With no nostalgic ties to this film, I can say that it's a decent flick, although it wouldn't crack even my top 20 Disney movies. Love the NYC stuff. Joel's "Why Should I Worry?" is a musical highlight. The story has a surprising emotional impact and the climax is both dark and exciting.
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