All Dogs Go to Heaven


July 23rd, 2012
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Nostalgia Chick: Say what you want about the 80s, but you have to give it to kids' movies. They were a lot note. Race parables with foxes and hounds (shows clip from The Fox and the Hound), the Russian-Jewish immigrant experience with mice (shows clip from An American Tail), a dinosaur road trip into Heaven (shows clip from The Land Before Time), Lord of the Rings ripoffs (image of The Black Cauldron poster), this...mess (image of Heavy Metal poster). If you were born between the years of 1980 and 1990, and...well after that, Don Bluth was likely an integral part of your childhood. And while there were and remain a lot of people that may attain that The Secret of NIMH is his best movie, I'm not sure I agree.

The Great Owl: Brisby? Mrs. Jonathan Brisby?

NCh (voiceover): The last time we talked about Don Bluth was three years ago when we shat all over his biggest movie success as a hollow sellout, Anastasia.

NCh: Now, this was his only profitable film from that decade, which followed a string of films which were... (images for Rock-A-Doodle, Thumbelina, A Troll in Central Park, and The Pebble and the Penguin are shown) well, let's be nice and call them weak. (footage from Anastasia is shown) The only one that made decent money was the historical fiction Disney copycat.

(A scene from All Dogs Go to Heaven plays.)

NCh (voiceover): And let me just get it out of the way that I find All Dogs Go to Heaven to be by far Bluth and Goldman's most interesting movie.

(cut back to Nostalgia Chick)

NCh: Possibly also their best. But this film fascinates me particularly because it had a lot of moral grayness in it that you don't see in most Disney movies. At least, up until The Emperor's New Groove.

NCh (voiceover): The main character of Charlie is a sophisticated character, and this is a surprisingly sophisticated film.

(cut back to Nostalgia Chick)

NCh: For a mainstream kid's movie.

(Footage of the film's first ten minutes plays.)

NCh (voiceover): In the first ten minutes alone, we have a prison break, gambling, smoking, lots of drinking. (A Live action video of a dog staring at a glass of O'Doul's is shown.) Which, for dogs in the real world, is just adorable, by the way. In fact, the main character gets drunk off his ass and his business partner fucking assassinates him! And all this in the first ten minutes!

(cut back to Nostalgia Chick)

NCh: So while it has neither the delicate sense of wonder that we saw with Secret of NIMH nor is it the whorish B-grade sellout that we saw with Anastasia, this film feels like a much more personal work to me. In fact, I think it's a very deep allegory.

(Footage from An American Tail is shown.)

NCh (voiceover): We see something similar with An American Tail, which draws a much more obvious parallel with Russian Cossacks and the programs to cats and mice. It kind of loses me on the tragic of the Russian-Jewish immigrant and evil cat allegory with the big, silly rat thing (the Giant Mouse of Minsk) at the end and the fact that the mice ostensibly... win?

(Warren T. Rat and his cronies are chased by the Giant Mouse of Minsk. An arrow points out the fact that it's even labeled.)

NCh: Unlike All Dogs Go to Heaven, which has a deep multi-layered spiritual allegory. One that details to us the fall of man and takes us on a journey. How he is cast out of paradise and into the wilderness. And his redemption, which comes only through the greatest of sacrifice. And it does so with singing dogs...that gamble. Allow me to explain.

NCh (voiceover): The plot is this: It takes place in New Orleans, where it is always Mardi Gras, where Charlie B. Barkin escapes from prison to the casino he co-owns with his partner Carface -- so named because he's in a car...and he has a face. Carface, not wanting the liability of the escaped convict Charlie, gets him drunk and kills him. And Charlie dies, learning that all dogs get a "get-out-of-jail-free" card just by virtue of being a dog.

Annabelle: All dogs go to Heaven because, unlike people, dogs are naturally good and loyal and kind.

NCh (voiceover): Unimpressed with Heaven and wanting revenge against Carface, Charlie rejects eternity in paradise and winds back his life watch. Wondering how Carface's business got so profitable without Charlie, he finds out that Carface has procured a young Snow White-looking orphan (Anne-Marie) who can talk to animals.

Charlie: Where are your parents?

Anne-Marie: I'm an orphan.

NCh (voiceover): And he uses her to find out which rat is likely to win races. And she, of course, desperately wants to be adopted.

Charlie: If you're serious about this mommy and daddy business, you're going to need dough of your own.

NCh (voiceover, mimicking Charlie): You need some capital if you wanna catch someone's eye. You know, get a dowry.

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