Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oliver & Company

I always loved Oliver & Company as I was growing up.  With Liam's continued request to watch Bolt again and his love of dogs and cats I was sure that he would love this movie.  Unfortunately from the very beginning he was seriously not feeling this movie.  He kept begging me to change it and he did not feel very engaged by it at all.  In his defense it wasn't as good as I had remembered.  There was a serious lack of action in terms of current Disney movies.  The coloring and backgrounds were not as bright or interactive as most movies are now and it had the older animation.  The story was more adult-based themes rather than something that Liam could really get into and was over his head.  I of course still watched the entire thing and was happy that I had.  I was sad that it wasn't as awesome as I had remembered, but it was still good and worth watching.  Still had some catchy tunes with  a great voice staff, a few cameos and  of course the voice talent of the late Dom Deluise making you want to go back to Itchy in All Dog's go to Heaven and Tiger in An American Tale and Jeremy in the Secret of NIMH and Stanly from A Troll in Central Park.....

Olive & Company is loosely based on the story of Oliver Twist.  Oliver is a kitten and gets in with a gang of dogs, led by Dodger who are owned by a down on his luck guy named Fagin.  Fagin borrowed money from a thug (possible mafia ties) who is wanting his money back in 3 days.  The gang goes out to hustle for some money for their owner when the come across a limo with a little girl inside named Jenni who takes Oliver home with her.

Oliver is an orange tabby kitten voiced by Joey Lawrence.
Dodger is a apparently supposed to be a Jack Russell Terrier, which I did not know until I looked this up.  If that is true, he is drawn disproportionately with the rest of the characters as he should be much smaller than he is in comparison with the other dogs.  He is voiced by Billy Joel
Tito is a ballsy Chihuahua voiced by Cheech Marin
Rita is a Saluki, and Dodger's love interest voiced by Sheryl Lee Ralph
Fagin is the owner of the dog gang and voiced by Dom Deluise
Georgette is a prizewinning show Poodle and is voiced by Better Midler

Oliver & Company was released in 1988 as Disney's 27th animated film.  The working title of the film was Oliver & the Dodger.  At a certain point this film was being tailored as a sequel to The Rescuers.   This was the first Disney film to make heavy use of computer animation.  CGI (computer generated imagery) was used for skyscrapers, cars, trains, the chase scene with Fagin's scooter.  This film signified the first time the Disney had created an actual department dedicated just to computer animation. 

Oliver & Company was Disney's test film back into the musical venue that they had steered away from since 1981 with the Fox & the Hound (somehow I don't recall the Fox & the Hound being much of a musical).  Although after watching Frozen, I think that Disney may have gone too far into the musical scene and lost actual speaking to tell a story ;)  After the success of this film at the box office, Disney created all of it's films as musicals for the next decade (ironically only excluding The Rescuers Down Under). 

This movie was also a test for new sound effects that would regularly be used by Disney studios, the next movie to attempt a plethora of new sound effects was The Little Mermaid in 1989.  It was also the first animated film to include real-world advertised products.  Such as, Coca-Cola, USA Today, Ryder and Sony.  Reportedly this was merely for realism and the mass amount of advertising in NYC that would have made NYC unbelievable without advertising and was not product placement. 

Cameo appearances are made in the beginning of the film when after recently watching the Lady & the Tramp I thought for sure I had seen some familiar faces and was just losing my mind.  When in fact there is a cameo appearance from Peg, Jock & Trusty as well as an appearance from Pongo from 101 Dalmatians. 

Oliver & Company was released on the exact same day as The Land Before Time which was released by Don Bluth (a Disney expatriate).  I am sure there was some drama going on behind the scenes with that one.  The box office success of the movie lead Disney to make plans to release at least one movie annually from then on.  The only years thus far this has not happened were 1993 and 2006.  It also started the partnership with McDonald's and joint licensing and product promotion with christmas musical ornaments of Oliver & Dodger.  Despite box office success it got mixed to low reviews at best.

My final review on this movie is a 3.9.  I still love it from when I was a kid but it can't quite push itself over to a 4.  I still love the Why Should I Worry (main theme song sung by Billy Joel) and am happy that I got to see it again. 

*If you watch closely you can see Pongo's cameo

If you want to see the Disney Link go to Oliver & Company

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