(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Oliver and Company. Also, during this opening, several clips of the famous Don Bluth film, The Land Before Time, are shown as well. The song "Why Should I Worry" by Billy Joel plays in the background throughout)
Doug (vo): Okay, so in all honesty, it's a little hard to talk about Oliver and Company without talking about another animated film that came out the exact same weekend, The Land Before Time. When I was a kid, Oliver and Company was the movie I wanted to see. I heard the Billy Joel songs, I saw the animation, I saw the cool dogs, I saw New York. It just looked like an awesome movie. But it was sold out at the time, and my folks could only get tickets to The Land Before Time. So I said, "Okay. Well, I guess I can see that." And The Land Before Time, as most of you know, was a really great film. The animation was great, the story was great, and it was very Disneyesque. But we're not reviewing that, we're reviewing Oliver and Company, the film I really wanted to see as a little kid. So next week, we got our tickets, sat on down, and...after Land Before Time, this was really underwhelming. I know it's weird saying that, even as I'm an adult talking about this and reviewing it again, but...the reason I bring it up is because The Land Before Time was much more like a Disney film than Oliver and Company was. It did a much better job teaching life lessons with really heavy scenes and, well, really memorable characters. Oliver and Company definitely seemed like a marketing tool. Even as a kid, I sort of felt manipulated by it. In fact, I actually remember enjoying the toys much more than I remember enjoying the movie. [A photo of a plush Tito toy is shown] Yeah, I had a Cheech Marin dog. What about it? Though, anyway, let's get to the actual story.
Story and reviewEdit
Doug (vo): It's the basic Oliver Twist story, except with animals, and it doesn't take place in the time of Charles Dickens, it takes place in modern-day New York City. Here, that sketchy drawn style actually has a little bit more of a home. It sort of looks like an etching you'd see maybe in a New York store or a fine art store, something like that. In this version, Oliver isn't a boy, he's a kitten. And Dodger isn't a boy either, he's a dog. But not just a dog, a grown-up dog, voiced by Billy Joel. In terms of the Oliver story, I really find that distracting. I liked how Dodger and Oliver sort of had a connection and how they were sort of the same age, and, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. If I'm gonna connect this to the original Oliver story, I'm gonna be really disappointed. There's really no point in setting it in modern-day or in New York or with animals. So let's just ignore that for now and look at the story as it is. Oliver meets up with a bunch of tough dogs who are owned by this bum, voiced by Dom DeLuise. He does dealings with this gangster, but not because he wants to, more because he just got himself in a bad situation. Much like Oliver Twist, though, Oliver finds himself in the hands of a much nicer family, and he's constantly flip-flopping back and forth throughout the entire film. The nice family has a dog, voiced by Bette Midler. And, of course, she gets a song.
[Bette Midler's character, Georgette the poodle, and her song sequence, "Perfect Isn't Easy", is shown]
Georgette: [singing] Pretty is nice, but still, it's just pretty! Perfect, my dears...is me!
Doug (vo): Eventually, it ends up in this kind of complicated story about kidnapping the little girl, and now Oliver and the gang have to go save her. I guess it leads to kind of a neat climax and actually one of the best villain deaths ever. I literally remember nothing about this villain except how he dies. Watch this!
[During the climax, the villain, Sykes, turns to see a train heading straight for him just before his car collides with it, killing him in a fiery blaze and sending the remains into the East River]
Doug (vo): That is awesome. Aside from that, the movie only has a few things to offer. One is that goddamn catchy song, and it is catchy. You'll be humming it all day once you watch this review.
[The song, which served as the review's background music, "Why Should I Worry", performed by Dodger (Billy Joel), is shown]
Dodger: [singing] Why should I worry? Tell me, why should I care? Say, I may not have a dime. Oh, but I got street savoir-faire...
Doug (vo): But surprisingly, I don't think the other songs are very catchy. I think they just had this one big hit, and they just exploited it like mad. I do remember Cheech Marin as the Chihuahua, and, yeah, he gets a funny line every once in a while. It's funny thinking he'd come back as a hyena a few years later. [A photo of Cheech Marin's character in The Lion King, Banzai the hyena, is shown] And actually, I really do like the way they portray New York. After finally having been there, I gotta say, it's pretty close to accurate. It's big, but it's tight. There's a lot of attitude, but there's a lot of character, too. From an animation point of view, I think they got it down spot-on.
Doug (vo): But aside from that, it's surprisingly forgettable. I don't remember too many of the characters, and like I said, the songs don't really leave me humming much except for the one. And, yeah, for Disney to do a version of Oliver, I sort of expected a lot more than this, at least for it to make a bigger impact. But again, it's not awful. It's just strange thinking that the non-Disney film at the time was turning out the much better Disney product. If you're an animal person, maybe you'll get into some of the cutesiness of it, but aside from that, it's nothing to scream about. But let's face it. This was just the film that tied us over...before the next gigantic hit.
[The song sequence "Why Should I Worry" is shown again as we fade out]