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Guys, I gotta confess.
I’ve been sitting here for like two hours trying write something about this movie and I got nothin’. I really, really don’t like Oliver and Company (sorry, spoilers) but my God if I’m having difficulty putting it into words why. I mean, it’s not like it’s the worst Disney movie I’ve had to review. But, Jesus, this one just rubs me the wrong way. Alright, well, no use beating around the bush. Let’s take a look at this thing.
By 1988 the Disney Animation Studios had survived their closest brush with death to date, the failure of the Black Cauldron. They had scraped out a modest win with Basil the Great Mouse Detective, a film that was quickly and cheaply produced and made a decent profit. But no one was kidding themselves that Disney was back to its former glory. It clearly wasn’t. This point was driven home very painfully when production began on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and hey! I could do a review on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Wouldn’t that be fun? Yeah, let’s do that instead!
Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #27: Who Framed Roger…
Well anyway, production had started on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which would prove to be one of the most technically accomplished animated films ever. But instead of using Disney’s own in-house animators, director Robert Zemeckis and animation director Richard Williams instead set up a new animation studio with international animators in London. The reason for this being that they simply felt the Disney animators weren’t up to the task. Ouch.
To add insult to…0ther…insult, while Basil the Great Mouse Detective did well on its own terms, it was absolutely trounced by An American Tail, created by ex-Disney apostate (and absolute dictator of at least one alternate dimension) Don Bluth. Losing to Bluth was the final straw. It was as if a massive “Shit Just Got Real” picture appeared in the sky over the heads of everyone working in Disney animation.
There is a tradition at Disney. Whenever they don’t know what to do, whenever they feel that they’ve lost their way and need to get back on the right path, they ask themselves one question: “What would Walt do?”
And somebody, apparently, answered “Oliver Twist. But with…like. Dogs.”