MarzGurl Loves Don Bluth: All Dogs go to Heaven
September 23, 2011
MarzGurl Reviews Atlantis: The Lost Empire
(Clips from All Dogs go to Heaven are shown.)
MarzGurl (vo): If there's one thing I gotta give it up to All Dogs go to Heaven for, is that it's strangely mature. Yeah, it's about a bunch of animated talking animals, but really, have you seen this movie lately? In 1989, it was given a G rating, but part of me wants to think that this rating wouldn't fly more than twenty years later. The beginning of the movie, set in 1939, completely sets the tone perfectly, with Charlie B. Barkin, a German Shephard mutt voiced by Burt Reynolds, and Itchy Itchiford, a Dachshund voiced by Dom DeLuise, both escaping from the pound, or as it would appear, prison. After their daring, dangerous escape, which involves gunshots by the way, they head to a New Orleans casino for dogs, which apparently had been at one time partially owned by Charlie and boy, is this the epitome of depravity. I mean, you just can't mask this, even when we're looking at dogs, not people; there's animal racing, smoking, booze and all kinds of gambling all around, and when Charlie busts in, it's a howling drunken musical number for the whole family!
Charlie: (singing) I know hunger, I know thirst, lived the best and seen the worst / But the only way I know to finish, is to finish first!
MarzGurl (vo): We now meet Killer, voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly, who last appeared as the cockroach in An American Tail*, and continues his tradition of playing the exact same character in every Don Bluth movie, much like Dom DeLuise; he's neurotic and chatty and is an underling to a much scarier guy.
*The cockroach, Digit from An American Tail, was actually voiced by Will Ryan, not Charles Nelson Reilly.
Killer: You want that I should squeeze his head with pliers?! (chuckles)
Carface: Killer, Killer! That is no way to treat an old friend.
MarzGurl (vo): In this movie, that happens to be Carface, the co-owner of the casino. We learned that he framed Charlie and got him thrown in the pound so that he could keep the casino all to himself, and now that Charlie is back in the picture...well, let's just say he can't be in the picture, so what happens? They liquor him up, set him at the end of a dock, and run him over with a car. That's right, kids, they just killed your main character, and despite the fact that we don't actually physically see the car connect with Charlie's body, the imagery is still dark, grim and gruesome enough, especially for a G rated cartoon aimed at children, and after a little bit of traveling through time and space...
(The Doctor Who theme music plays while Charlie is sent to heaven.)
MarzGurl (vo): Charlie ends up in Heaven because apparently, all dogs are inherently good and couldn't possibly go anywhere else. Guess somebody up in Heaven isn't exactly paying much attention to what's going on down on Earth. So then Charlie's angel (Annabelle) shows him around...
(The theme music for the Charlie's Angels TV series plays.)
MarzGurl (vo):...and eventually takes him to a room filled with clocks and watches. Everyone apparently has one, and when it stops, it means your time on Earth is done. Well, Charlie is a really clever little devil and not being satisfied with the idea of there being no surprises in Heaven, he sneakily winds up his watch and sends himself back to Earth. It's a minor plot hole that's easily overlooked by simply enjoying the movie, but really, how do the angels not see this coming if supposedly, everything in Heaven is already predetermined? However, I love the imagery once Charlie is actually sent back to Earth, it isn't just a simple,"Poof! I'm back and I'm alive!", Charlie is pale, soaking wet, still choking on the water he would probably drown in if it wasn't the hit by the car that killed him first, and then slowly but surely, the color returns to his coat as if he just re-animated his own corpse; it's actually sort of a chilling visual if you think about it. What was even more chilling to me when I was a kid, however, was the message that Charlie would occasionally get from Heaven.
Annabelle: (voiceover with clock ticking) Charlie, you can never come back! You can never come-(Charlie closes the pocket watch in annoyance.)
MarzGurl (vo): Woo, freaks me out every time! Charlie's first step is to meet up with Itchy, who sadly had to watch his best friend get murdered right before his eyes. Understandably so, Itchy doesn't initially believe it's really Charlie standing there before him.
Charlie: I'm gonna take my hand away from your mouth and you're gonna be quiet, aren't you? (Itchy muffles his agreement) Heh heh, that's my pal.
(Itchy screams as soon as the paw's removed.)
Charlie: Will you shut up?!
MarzGurl (vo): The scene, otherwise is awesome because apparently, Burt and Dom had quite an awesome friendship in the way they bounce off one another.
Itchy: Listen, boss, we can nab us a few llamas, a couple of mountain goats, open a track of our own...
Charlie: You know he's got something up his sleeve.
Itchy: Yeah, a cartel.
MarzGurl (vo): Charlie is sadly blinded with the desire to get back at Carface for having the audacity to try and kill him, and when Itchy says he's seen Carface feed some monster, Charlie is determined to figure out what it is, and what it really is...is...oh, just listen.
Anne-Marie: Mr. Carface, can I go outside today? / Hi, Mr. Longtail, how are you today? / Squadcar has the flu, oh my.
MarzGurl (vo): It's no monster, it's an adorable little girl by the name of Anne-Marie. The character is enough to pierce you right through the heart, even if you aren't a huge fan of kids. Learning more about the actress, though, now that's just asking to add to an ocean of tears. Frankly, I DON'T want to discuss it in the middle of this video, and I know there's plenty of you who already know what I'm talking about. For the rest of you, just wait until the end and I'll get to it eventually. So Charlie quote-unquote "rescues" Anne-Marie from the evil clutches of Carface, and to do what, exactly? Do exactly what Carface was doing with her: use her ability to talk to animals to win bets and live in the lap of luxury. It just so happens that he goes about doing it by sweet talking the kid.
Charlie: Listen, you'd like that, wouldn't ya, Anne-Marie? I mean, living with me? You're gonna love my place and there'd be a bed under the stars, put upon three square meals a day and great walls, I live in a cab.
MarzGurl (vo): Over the course of the movie, Charlie nearly messes this up several times and it seems apparent that the kid can sometimes see straight through Charlie's act, but with a couple of sweet words from Charlie, she's right back in his paws. It's somewhat depressing, actually; the girl knows everything is wrong, even if she's easily swayed sometimes because she's a kid. Charlie's best friend, Itchy continually suggests that everything they're doing is a bad idea, and yet, Charlie continues to steal and gamble and use this little orphan to his advantage. To any well-rounded adult, I should say the character of Charlie should sicken you because quite frankly, for being our story's hero, he really isn't a terribly great guy at all; he tries to trick Anne-Marie into thinking he's taking care of the poor girl by giving a poor family a pizza.
Charlie: (singing) Whether you're the boss or someone's pet / the more you give, the more you're gonna get.
MarzGurl (vo): But in the process, he drops a wallet stolen from a nice family and the girl catches him in his dirty lies.
Anne-Marie: (singing) Dreaming of you, start believing it's true / Soon you'll come home, soon you'll come home...
MarzGurl (vo): Everybody falls asleep when this amazing depiction of what can only be interpreted as HELL is shown to the audience. It isn't specifically stated this is Hell, in fact, there's no speech in this segment at all whatsoever. Charlie is sleeping and dreaming of exactly where he's going when he dies, considering he doesn't have a chance of getting back into Heaven, and I have to admit, this is pretty friggin' incredible to behold; it's literally terrifying! There's fire and brimstone and demons and lava and holy cow! How does this not terrify every single child sitting in that movie theater?! This is amazing! In fact, the fact that this is so plainly a depiction of Hell and the movie continued to remain G is absolutely astounding! Well, while Charlie had been living his nightmare, Anne-Marie returns the wallet to the family it was stolen from who quickly learns the girl is an orphan. This scene shows purpose in showing the audience that she's totally gonna get a home with these new parents later, but for now, let's move on. Now here's Charlie's greatest mistake, after they earned enough money from stealing and winning bets, they opened up their own business in the exact same town, and you know what they named it? Charlie's Place. I mean, I figured Charlie didn't want Carface to know that he was alive, how smart is that? And yeah, of course, Carface figures out he's alive, so what do they do? They go after him. You know what's beautiful? They go after him with a ray gun. A RAY gun! How is that even possible?! I mean, how are little girls talking to animals possible, but in 1939, a ray gun? Here's my guess, though, the movie uses this moment to create imagery to let us know that so long as Charlie has his watch and it's still ticking, it thinks that it isn't his time to die yet, so even if he gets shot, he doesn't die. Well, despite the fact that this movie has been really good at showing us the dirty underbelly of society, nobody has done any bleeding and we never physically see an inactive character dying. I don't think it's a stretch to assume that when Charlie gets shot, they needed to make sure the movie kept its G rating, so rather than getting obviously hit by bullets, it's easier to say that he was hit with a ray gun and not show his body ridden with holes like a block of Swiss cheese. So next comes the biggest problem with the movie, the moment you've all been waiting for, that's right, the Big-Lipped Alligator moment. Now I really rather not make the exact same comments as some other previous reviewers have, so let me make this very clear. After Charlie and Anne-Marie escape the ray gun, they crash through a weak floor in an abandoned house where they splash into shallow water and are kidnapped by Anjurine mice and are greeted by an immensely huge and flamboyant singing alligator.
King Gator: (singing) Let's make music together, let's make sweet harmony
MarzGurl (vo): There's only ONE point to the entirety of this scene and it's to show that Anne-Marie got too cold and wet and catches pneumonia. In personal belief, this could've been done simply by having them crash through the floor and splash down into the shallow water where Charlie and Anne-Marie have to flail around and find his watch before the gears get waterlogged and it stops, thereby killing him. In fact, that's exactly how the scene initially starts, the problem is that it simply doesn't stop where it should have. It goes on to introduce us to this enormous alligator, even by alligator standards, singing us a bizarre, flamboyant musical number, again, bizarre, even by the expectations already placed on us in the movie, what with the girl who can talk to animals and a holy watch that can protect you from death. It's quite simply bizarre and I know I've used that word several times already as it is, but there's really very little else to describe it. Charlie does his best to take care of Anne-Marie while she's sick while in the meantime, Itchy gets assaulted by Carface over at Charlie's Place. Yeah, you see how great an idea it was to name your casino after yourself, Charlie? Good job! Itchy stumbles over to Charlie beaten and bruised and finally, yes, bleeding, both to warn Charlie as well as scold him, which frankly is about the best acting out of Dom DeLuise in just about any of his roles in any of Don Bluth's movies.
Itchy: You wanted revenge on Carface and I said "No, please, let's get out of town!" But I stayed because...because you're my friend. And then you wanted to kidnap the girl and I said,"This is crazy!" But I helped ya and-and then we gotta dress the girl and read her stories, she wants you to feed the poor, and the whole while, I'm thinking,"This is stupid, she's gonna get us killed!"
MarzGurl (vo): And yet, even with his second casino burning before his eyes and his best friend standing there in front of him after being assaulted, and after Anne-Marie has already caught Charlie being a complete dick, even after he has maybe started to grow to like her and want to take care of her while she's almost deathly ill, he STILL continues his logic that he's been using the girl the entire time and is planning on continuing to use her. And again, she overhears and storms off. She manages to get kidnapped by Carface again and Charlie follows. Just when it looks like everybody in the movie wants you to care for her, that she's gonna die, what happens? That's right, the big lipped alligator returns! Why? To serve one single brief purpose: creating a temporary distraction and then assumingly kill and eat Carface, and the place they were being held at goes up in flames, with Anne-Marie floating sick and helpless on a piece of wood. When she falls in, Charlie attempts to rescue her, but when he loses his watch, he's torn between saving her and saving his own life. In the end, he decides to choose saving the girl first over saving the watch, which does indeed costs him his life. With the help of what appears to be all of the dogs in New Orleans, Anne-Marie's new family calls the paramedics and they then take her home with them to take care of her. Oh, and Itchy, too, I guess. But just because Charlie's dead doesn't mean we're done with him. We now get to see Charlie's ghost being watched by what can be only described as the king of Hell as he visits Anne-Marie one last time. But what's this? Heaven comes to reclaim Charlie's soul because of his good deed.
Annabelle's voice: Charlie, you gave your life up. Come home.
MarzGurl (vo): What follows is a touching goodbye, but the little girl is too young to possibly understand.
Charlie: I've come to say goodbye.
Anne-Marie: Where are you going?
Charlie: Uh...just a little trip.
Anne-Marie: Charlie, will I ever see you again?
Charlie: Sure...sure you will, kid. Goodbyes aren't forever, you know.
Anne-Marie: Then...goodbye, Charlie. I love you.
MarzGurl (vo): Man, she's going to be SO sad when she finally realizes that Charlie is never coming back. I hate it when someone tries explaining death to a little kid like that! Anyway, Charlie goes to Heaven and so does Carface, but Carface doesn't seem to like it there much like Charlie did. Does he go back to Earth? According to the sequel nobody cares about, yes, but never mind that, Don Bluth had nothing to do with it.
This movie and The Land Before Time probably tie for my two favorite movies animated by Don Bluth. They're really both quite gorgeous in their own ways. As far as The Land Before Time is concerned, I have to praise Bluth for choosing not to fill the movie with musical numbers, but in the case of All Dogs go to Heaven, most of the musical pieces, aside from the one with the alligator, are really quite tolerable. Many of the actors like Burt Reynolds quite obviously can't actually sing. However, because of that, I think it adds a certain charm to a lot of the movie. In many Disney movies, completely separate singing voices are hired for the musical pieces, and sometimes it's somewhat noticeable and a little bit jarring. I have to admit I really dig the authenticity of keeping with the same voices for the roles, even if the same actors aren't naturally talented at singing. I'm in love with the fact that I actually don't like our main protagonist; the only nice things he does throughout the movie are all just to win over Anne-Marie, whom he uses for his own personal gain for the entirety of the movie, and frankly, you can never really tell if he was really starting to gain feelings for her or not. I mean, sure, by the end, I suppose you can assume he does, but a lot of his words and actions don't really give that off any. The only redeeming thing he does is literally right at the tail end of the movie, I mean, I guess that's the obviously most important place to put it, but there's very little else to identify Charlie as being quote-unquote "the good guy". The depictions of very adult subject matters are also impressive; the gambling, the drinking, the smoking, violence as well as very detailed depictions of Heaven and Hell. I'm serious, I know ratings have changed a lot over the last twenty years, but I'm still surprised that this still managed to sneak by with a G rating. I guess nobody dropped any profanity or nudity, so I guess that's what kept it in line, but all in all, this was an incredibly dark movie. It probably would've rocked the box office if it weren't for the fact that they were foolish enough to release it...
(The poster for The Little Mermaid is shown.)
MarzGurl (vo): ... the same weekend as The Little Mermaid, but thankfully, where it did finally start raking in money...
(The poster for All Dogs go to Heaven is shown.)
MarzGurl (vo): ...was at the time of its home video release; it sold massive amounts of VHS copies, making it one of the most successful VHS releases ever. How are you going to argue with success in storytelling like that?
(More clips from the film are shown.)
MarzGurl (vo): Aside from the inclusion of the alligator, there's very little about this movie I particularly want to complain about.
Now, I did say I was going to bring this up earlier in the video, and frankly, I DON'T want to do it. There isn't anything else I would rather do less than tell you guys about what I'm about to say, but ever since I first discussed The Land Before Time, people have been begging me to bring up this particular detail, and it pains me that you guys actually want to hear somebody talk about this information. In fact, this is so far apart from the facts about the movie itself and Don Bluth's involvement, that I was trying for a very long time to use that as an excuse not to bring it up, but since it was in such high demand even after all The Land Before Time's twelve sequels that have nothing to do with the subject...(sighs) Okay, prepare yourselves with a box of Kleenex and make sure you're sitting down.
(Photos of Anne-Marie's voice actress, Judith Barisi, are shown.)
MarzGurl (vo): Now the role of Anne-Marie was voiced by a little girl by the name of Judith Barisi, who was the same little girl who voiced Ducky in The Land Before Time. She had a very short-lived child acting career and was the daughter of two immigrant parents. The unfortunate part of all of this was that her father was an incredibly paranoid drunkard who was heavily convinced that his wife and daughter were going to leave him one day and never come back. And yes, Judith was wildly abused, physically and mentally. There were a small number of people who knew about it, but seeing as how her mother was always reluctant to press charges on her husband, there was practically nothing the authorities could do, until finally...(sighs)...in 1988, her father came up to her in her bedroom in the middle of the night and shot her dead where she slept and killed the mother, too when she ran downstairs. Eventually, he would wind up killing himself as well.
(The poster for All Dogs go to Heaven appears again.)
MarzGurl (vo): This was all approximately a year and a half before All Dogs go to Heaven was even released; it's the part that, knowing that information ahead of time, makes watching the movie all that much more painful because the character of Anne-Marie is portrayed as this amazingly picture perfect child, the heart and soul of pure innocence and childlike bewilderment. Supposedly, the end credits song, Love Survives, is dedicated in Judith Barisi's memory.
There, that was...incredibly painful for me to say at all. I suppose all I want to say at a time like this is...I don't know...
(A sign saying, "Prevent Child Abuse" pops up.)
MarzGurl (vo): ...to be mindful of anyone you think is being abused; report it to the proper authorities if you ever notice it, donate to child abuse centers, contact somebody at preventchildabuse.org, do something! I don't know, I can't just leave it all on this fact without mentioning something you could do after hearing something like that. And at this point, I barely know how to properly end the video because we all know I can't end it like this.
(The DVD cover for Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp is shown.)
MarzGurl (vo): I suppose all I can do is move on from All Dogs go to Heaven and lead into what would be Don Bluth's next big production. After the success of his two previous Laserdisc games, it was only natural for people to want more, and that's where Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp comes in, but I'm not going to get ahead of myself right now, you're just gonna have to wait until next time.