Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #27: Oliver and Company

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

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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…

No?

Ugh.

Fine.

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.

Shit just got real

“Who’s that guy?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think he’s famous yet.”

 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.”

I fairness, I did end a lot of sentences with "but with dogs".

Wow. It’s like you know me.

Okay, so can we agree the eighties sucked? I mean, just, as a decade? Now stop, I know you’re already rushing to the comments to tell me about your favorite movie or music or TV show that came out in the eighties so let me save you the trouble. Yes. A lot of great stuff came out in that decade, just as it does in any decade. I’m just talking about the whole…feel of the decade. It was ugly, right? Is that just me? I’ve been thinking about it a lot since Margaret Thatcher died and trying to get a hold on my few fading memories of that era (I’m not THAT old). And I just remember it as an ugly time. Alright, let me put it this way. Imagine each period of history has theme music. The sixties sound great, right? The fifties sound classy. The forties are stirring. The twenties are swinging. The nineties would be all John Williamsy. And the eighties? They wouldn’t sound good, would they? All cheap synth and bland, sanitized jazz. I bring this up because that’s pretty much Oliver and Company’s opening credits, featuring the song Once Upon a Time in New York city sung by Huey Lewis. It’s not exactly a bad song, but it’s just so eighties and I have a real hate-on for that whole aesthetic.  Plus, Disney movies should be timeless, and this opening just marries the film to the time it was made so thoroughly. Hell, the only way this movie could be more dated is if it had long lingering shots of…oh…

Yeah. I ain't touching that one.

Yeah. I ain’t touching that one.

Alright, so anyway. Here we are in “contemporary” New York and we meet our hero, Oliver. Oliver is one of several kittens being sold from a cardboard box for five dollars.

"One caaaaaaaat!" "Caaaaaaaat for saaaaaale!"

“One caaaaaaaat!”
“Caaaaaaaat for saaaaaale!”

One by one the other kittens are bought until only Oliver is left. Night falls and it starts to rain and Oliver is washed out of the box and on to the street. Hang on a minute. Who the hell was selling those kittens? It’s not like they were just abandoned on the side of the street. They’re being sold at five dollars a pop. Who’s running this operation? Dude! Take care of your inventory! With all that cheap eighties Colombian cocaine flooding the streets, five dollars can get you high as a kite! So before you know it, Oliver is soaked to the bone and being chased through the streets by feral dogs and almost getting run over by Travis Bickle.

All the animals come out at night. Whores. Skunk pussies. Little Kit... OH HE'S ADORABLE!!!

“All the animals come out at night. Whores. Skunk pussies. Little Kit… OH HE’S ADORABLE!!!”

Okay, I have to say the feline animation here is really good. Little things, like how Oliver cleans himself or starts at loud noises are just perfectly rendered. The next morning Oliver tries to catch the attention of people going by but everyone ignores him.

Okay. A moment please, I just need to scale a mountain so I can call bullshit from a suitably high place.

BUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLSHIIIIIIIT!

“BUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLSHIIIIIIIT!”

No one walks past a kitten. Nobody. A small child? Sure. A burning homeless person? Absolutely. But nobody walks past a kitten. Someone once told me that the only reason cats don’t overthrow us is that they can’t operate can openers. But that’s not true. Cats don’t overthrow us because they are already our masters. I mean, we mock Egyptians for worshipping cats, but they just built idols to them. WE BUILT AN INTERNET TO LOOK AT PICTURES OF THEM.

It’s around this point that we meet Dodger, voiced by Billy Joel.

Ugh.

Look. I got nothing but respect for Billy Joel. I think he’s a great singer, a great songwriter and I even believe his claim that he didn’t start the fire.

Although it is a little suspicious that he's the only one in the room.

Although it is a little suspicious that he’s the only one in the room…

But by the unholy hordes of Bahia I can’t stand the Dodger. I mean, we’re not talking “Gurgi” levels of hatred here, but I really don’t like him at all. Which is a little odd, when you think about it, because he’s so similar to the Tramp who you’ll remember is one of my all-time favorite Disney leads. There’s just such a thin line between lovable rogue and insufferable asshole and Dodger is waaaaaaay over on the other side of that line.  When we first see him he’s blowing kisses and generally sexually harassing a passing girl dog in A manner that suggests he’ll shortly be getting a visit from Ms No-Means-No.

More Simpsons characters need to be real people.

The world would be a better place if Simpsons characters were real people.

He sees Oliver being yelled at by a hot dog vendor and says: “Could be time for the Dodge to turn this into a total cat-astrophe.”

Do I…do I really need to elaborate on why I hate this character?

Dodger talks to Oliver and says that if they work together, they can get some hot dogs off Louis the vendor.

In his spare time, he writes erotic fiction under the pen-name EL James.

In his spare time, he writes erotic fiction under the pen-name E.L. James.

Oliver wants to know how, and Dodger tells him that the city has a beat, a rhythm, and that once he learns it he can do anything. Dodger offers to take Oliver under his wing and teach him how to jive to the beat.

Okay, Dodger? I knew Baloo. Baloo was a friend of mine. And you sir, are no Baloo.

Dodger chases Oliver into Louis’ pants and makes off with a string of sausage links. Oliver tries to claim his cut of the heist, but Dodger tells him that the “Dynamic Duo is now the Dynamic Uno”.

He prefers "The Dark Knight".

He prefers “The Dark Knight”, thanks.

Dodger leads Oliver on a merry chase through New York while singing Why Should I Worry? You know, I didn’t like this song the first time I watched the movie but…damn it grows on you. Really catchy, and if Joel can’t make the character likeable, at least he makes him listenable.

Wow, he's wearing sunglasses! He's so cool!

Wow, he’s wearing sunglasses! He’s so cool!

Yeah. This whole sequence is pretty much designed to establish that Dodger is, in his own words “New York’s coolest quadruped” and it just reeks of effort. They try so hard to make Dodger seem cool, or at least the primitive debased eighties equivalent of cool. Look at him, wearing sunglasses and getting bizzay with his in-your-face extreme attitude wait just a damn minute here!

Oh my God. Groening, you whore!

Oh my God. Groening, you whore!

Regardless, it’s a good song and Dodger is joined by seemingly every other dog in New York including ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!???

Jock

Jock’s STILL alive??!!!

Okay. That’s it. Case closed. He’s Scottish. He’s immortal. And he ends up in New York in the eighties. Jock is a Highlander.

You talk funny, dog. Where you from?

“You talk funny, dog. Where you from?”

Excuse me

“Lots of different places.”

Dodger returns home to an abandoned barge where he lives with his owner Fagin and the rest of his gang. Okay, Dodger’s gang all have names but I’m not going to be using them as these are some of the laziest, clichéd stereotypes you can imagine. There’s Big Dumb Dog, Snooty British Dog and Girl Dog.

Why...why is she wearing mascara?

Why…why is she wearing eye shadow?

And then there’s the Cheechuahua, a chihuahua voiced by Cheech Marin. Okay, so what is the most obvious, laziest, most hackneyed and borderline offensive characterisation for a cartoon chihuahua? If you answered “hot-headed Latino”, congratulations! You get to join me as we get drunk together and weep softly in a corner. I wouldn’t mind as much but they already did this character in Lady and the Tramp. 

Chihuaha

And it was actually less offensive then. In the frickin’ fifties.

So Dodger arrives and shares out the food, telling them that he had to fight off a giant, savage cat to get it for them. Oliver crashes through the ceiling and tells the other dogs the truth and Girl Dog takes pity on him and tells him he can stay.

Seriously. Why is she wearing mascara?

Seriously. Why is she wearing eye shadow?

Cheechuahua and the other dogs rip on Dodger for needing help from a cat which leads a to a big brawl which gets broken up by the arrival of Fagin, played by Dom De Luise.

Take a shot.

Take a shot.

Take a shot girl?! What are you doing here?

We followed you across the multiverse. We thought you could use a hand.

We followed you across the multiverse. We thought you could use a hand.

We? You don’t mean…

'Sup dawg?

‘Sup dawg?

Gangsta Asia! You made it too?

Um, Mouse? What the fuck is this?

Um, Mouse? What the fuck is this?

Oh. Well, this is Gangsta Asia. He was a friend of mine in the Bluth Universe.

Gangsta...Asia.

Gangsta…Asia?

Yeah.

I don't get it.

I don’t get it.

Me neither, but people seem to like him so we’re stuck with him. Okay, moving on.

Fagin is a homeless guy who lives on this boat with his dogs, one of whom he apparently puts eye shadow on and we’re just supposed to pretend like that’s fine. In the book, Fagin is the leader of a gang of child pickpockets and in the movie he uses Dodger and the other dogs the same way. Fagin is desperate to pay off his loan to a shipping magnate named Sykes. I don’t understand Sykes, I really don’t. He seems like a pretty successful businessman. He’s got all the trappings of success; nice suit, big fancy CGI limousine etc. Hell, he smokes cigars, which is pretty much how you know someone is rich. And yet, what kind of successful businessman loans money to a homeless man who’s only source of income is canine facilitated petty larceny? Sykes really looked at this guy and thought this was a shrewd investment in the cutthroat world of eighties America?

Is this guy a shark or what?

Is this guy a shark, or what?

Sykes arrives and sends his two pet dobermans (dobermen?) Roscoe and Desoto to get Fagin and back up a minute here…

Does no one in this universe hire people? Has there been some kind of massive epidemic that killed off millions of people and so they’ve had to resort to training dogs to carry out menial tasks? Or is the economy just doing so well that there are no unskilled workers left for pickpocketing and low level mob work?

Wow. Reaganomics really does work!

“My work here is done.”

Sykes tells Fagin that he’d better have his money, bitch, in three sunrises and three sunsets.

What an Ursula-esque way of putting it.

Meanwhile, back at the boat Roscoe and Desoto are trashtalking Dodger and his crew. I really like Roscoe and Desoto, they give good menace. Desoto finds Oliver hiding under a box and tries to eat him but Oliver scratches his nose. Dodger and the rest of his gang leap to his defence and before the situation can turn into Michael Vick’s basement they hear Sykes sounding his horn. Girl Dog tells Roscoe and Desoto to run along because their master’s calling and WHY IS SHE WEARING EYE SHADOW????!

WHY?! WHY?!

WHY?! WHY?!

GIVE ME A FUCKING ANSWER!

GIVE ME A FUCKING ANSWER!

Fagin comes back, understandably a little upset about being given a death sentence, but he perks up a little when he sees that Oliver scratched Desoto’s nose and invites him to join the group.

The next day, Fagin drives Oliver and the dogs into town on a scooter (that could probably be sold for a decent bit of money to pay off a homicidal loan shark just saying) and sets them loose to skin the good people of New York to the bone of their cash and jewelery.

Okay, Oliver and Company was  originally going to be a sequel to The Rescuers featuring Penny, the little girl who they…um. Rescued. So instead of Penny, we now have Jenny. Who is a totally different character.

See? Jenny's eyes are blue.

See? Jenny’s eyes are blue.

 We first see Jenny being driven around in a limousine by her chauffer Winston, the last working human. It’s actually probably better that they did change Penny to Jenny as otherwise this could be kinda depressing. See, Jenny’s parents are at a conference in Europe and have just written to tell her that they won’t be coming back for some time. You see children, back in the days before the internet, business people would have to actually travel to different countries for business reasons. These journeys could be long and hazardous, and many never returned due to disease and the scourge of piracy. The reason I think it’s better that Penny and Jenny are different characters is because when we last saw Penny, she’d just been adopted after finding the most valuable gemstone in the world. It would be pretty harsh to realise that her new parents had basically dumped her with the help and run off to Europe with the money.

Meanwhile, Dodger and his gang have come up with their next scam. Snooty British Dog pretends to get hit by the limousine so that while Winston investigates, Cheechuahua and Oliver can steal the limo’s radio. Oliver accidentally turns on the engine, which electrocutes Cheechuahua and sends him flying out the window. Dodger and the rest of the gang make a run for it, accidentally leaving Oliver behind. Oliver gets found by Penny Jenny who is instantly smitten with him and wants to take care of him. Yes. THAT is how people react to kittens.

Jenny takes Oliver home with her over Winston’s protestations. Winston mutters that “Georgette isn’t going to like this”. Georgette, it turns out, is the family poodle voiced by…

Oh No! Bette Midler!

Oh No! Bette Midler!

Georgette is introduced with the song “Perfect Isn’t Easy”, one of the best Disney songs you’ve never heard. The lyrics are great, funny and inventive and Midler gives it everything she’s got. It also helps that this sequence sees a major bump in the animation quality, one moment where a flock of bluebirds encircle Georgette’s head is jaw-droppingly good.

After her big number, Georgette goes down to the kitchen and is none too pleased to see Oliver eating out of her bowl.

AND WHY THE CLOSE UP MOUTH WHORE FUCK IS SHE WEARING EYE SHAD...

AND WHY THE CLOSE UP MOUTH WHORE FUCK IS SHE WEARING EYE SHAD…

Yo Mouse. Let it go. Ain't no thang. You feel me?

Yo Mouse. Let it go. Ain’t no thang. You feel me?

Yeah…

Yeah, you’re right. Sorry. I shouldn’t let it get to me. Thanks A-Dog.

S'alright. Thug life.

S’alright. Thug life.

Oh this is bullshit!

*cough cough* BULLSHIT

BITCH, YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO ME!?

BITCH, YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO ME!?

YEAH! JOIN A GYM FATASS!

YEAH! JOIN A GYM, FATASS!

OH, IT'S ON NOW!

OH, IT’S ON NOW!

BRING IT!

BRING IT!

DON'T DO IT EUROPE! HE'S EIGHT TIMES YOUR SIZE!

DON’T DO IT EUROPE! HE’S FIVE TIMES YOUR SIZE!

Jenny…. Penny… Wait. Right the first time. Jenny tells Georgette that Oliver will be staying with them. Georgette immediately starts planning ways to get Oliver out of the picture.

Damn. That shit's cold, dog.

Damn. That shit’s cold, dog.

You said it, Gangsta Asia. Hey, where’s Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe?

Oh Jesus...I think he broke my Italy.

Oh Jesus…I think he broke my Italy.

Meanwhile Dodger and the gang decide that they have to rescue Oliver from whatever horrible torture he’s no doubt being subjected to. Said torture turns out to be listening to Pejenny doing her piano exercises. Oliver starts playing the keys alongside her and…oooookay. We need to have a talk movie.

Sit down.

You’re new to the blog, so let me give you some friendly advice: You don’t want to remind me of Aristocats. Ever. That’s just a good little rule for you to live by, movie. Now I won’t lie to you. I don’t like you. But you still have a decent chance of getting through this with a score in the low fifties. That ain’t too bad. But I swear to God, you pull anymore of this Aristocats-esque shit and THERE WILL BE BLOOD ON THE FUCKING WALLS.

GOT IT? 

Good.

Georgette sees Jepenny and Oliver bonding through the power of music is clearly a little jealous. A little “Othello in Act V” jealous.

Put out the light. And then...put out the light.

Put out the light. And then…put out the light.

We now get a sort of Pretty Woman montage with Pejennepy taking Oliver to see the sights of New York, visiting Central Park and buying him a silver milk bowl and a gold name tag that says “Oliver”. I thought this was a goof at first (how does she know his name?) but looking back I don’t think Dodger or any of the other characters actually ever refer to him as Oliver. It’s usually just “Kid” so…what IS his real name anyway?

THOR PUTNAM!

THOR PUTNAM!

Aw, can’t beat the classics.

The next day Pejennifer leaves for school and Dodger and the gang pull some Operation Entebbe shit right here. Snooty British dog distracts Winston and the rest of the gang sneak into the house.

Dodger finds himself in Georgette’s room and she freaks out screaming “Don’t come any closer! I knew this would happen some day!”

New spittake

Well.

That’s a rather horribly jarring statement for a Disney movie. Dodger calms her down saying “It’s not you I’m after.”

So yeah, just for the removal of all doubt she totally thought he was going to rape her. Jesus wept…

Georgette then gets huffy and asks “It’s not? It’s not?! Well, why not?!”

Sebastien

Shocked-Neytiri

 My Face

Okay.

Um.

Okay.

We are going to go away. We are going to come back. And then we will just pretend that whole exchange never happened.

Intermission

Georgette shows off her blue ribbon collection to Dodger, as well as her various prizes, trophies and a cover of TIME magazine.

"INSIDE: OSAMA BIN WHO? MEET AMERICA'S BEARDIEST NEW BUDDY.

“INSIDE: OSAMA BIN WHO? MEET AMERICA’S BEARDIEST NEW BUDDY.

Cheechuahua is pretty much instantly smitten with Georgette but she tells him to screw off. She does, however, agree to help them once she realises that they’ve come for Oliver. The dogs grab the kitty and head back to the boat.

Oliver is none too pleased about this, because friends are all very well but that place had a fucking jacuzzi, man. Oliver tells them that he has a new home now, and someone who loves him (and that jacuzzi, who loves sore backs and tired muscles) . Dodger says “What’re you talking about? You’re in the gang!”

Fuck man, you don't leave the agency.

Fuck man, you don’t leave the agency.

Dodger gets pissy about Oliver wanting to live in the lap of luxury because fuck Dodger. Oliver sadly makes to leave but he gets picked up by Fagin who notices his solid gold name tag. Fagin hits on an idea. He’ll ransom Oliver to his presumably stinking rich new owner for enough money to pay off his debt to Sykes.

Jenniferpendelton returns home from school to find a ransom note stuck through the door. Tearfully, she tells Georgette that Oliver’s been kidnapped but that they’re going to get him back. And Georgette becomes the latest in a long line to glimpse the realm of perpetual madness and blinding terror that lies just behind the paper thin skein of the material world.

BAHIA!

BAHIA!

Fagin and Dodger pay a visit to Sykes to tell him his plan to get the money. They walk into Sykes office as he’s in the middle of a phone call. We don’t know who he’s talking to, but we hear him say “Whaddya mean? You start with the knuckles.”

Oh. See, I was starting with the head.

“Oh. See, I was starting with the head…”

Never start with the head. The victim gets all fuzzy and he can't feel the next one.

“Never start with the head. The victim gets all fuzzy and he can’t feel the next one.”

Things go south quickly when Sykes realises that he doesn’t have the money and he siccs Desoto and Roscoe on Fagin. Dodger fights them off long enough for Fagin to Sykes the gold name tag on Oliver’s neck. Sykes calls off the dogs but Dodger is hurt pretty bad.

He's badly injured. Or possibly taking a nap.

He’s horribly injured. Or possibly taking a nap.

Jenpenneration X and Georgette arrive at the docks (here’s a thought, why doesn’t Fagin just cast off and float away downriver?). She comes across Fagin who’s waiting for Oliver’s rich owner to show up with the ransom money. She shows him her piggy bank and Fagin realises that he’s fucked. Like, proper fucked. Like before ze Germans get there.

Fagin, miserable wretch of a human being though he may be, realises that he might as well just give Oliver back to her and let Sykes do his worst. But it turns out Sykes has been playing Fagin. He’s been after the girl the whole time. He snatches Jentlypentlypuddingandpie and takes her back to his warehouse. Dodger, Oliver, Georgette and the gang sneak into the warehouse. Oh and we get a bit where Georgette complains that she broke a nail.

When I’m done with the review I’m taking this movie out and shooting it behind the chemical sheds.

Sykes calls Winston and gives him the ransom demands. Does it strike anyone else that this is odd behaviour for a wealthy shipping magnate? Hell, lending the homeless dog guy money was bad enough but why the hell would he jeopardise his entire operation (and judging from the size of his building it is HUGE) by committing such a serious crime as kidnapping. I mean, there are safer ways to make a little extra money.

Cooking meth springs to mind.

“Cooking meth” springs to mind.

They manage to free Pensburgh Jennsylvania and Fagin arrives on his scooter just in time. They leap on and drive away with Sykes, Desoto and Roscoe in hot pursuit in his limo. Sykes chases them down into a subway station and onto the train tracks. Oh damn. They’re on train tracks. Better set the timer.

Timer

Sure enough, a train hurtles towards them but Fagin is able to set the scooter to…leap on to a railing…or…something…I don’t really…fuck it. WIZARDS!

WIZARDS!

WIZARDS!

But Sykes is not so lucky and gets crushed like a bug but not before he flings Oliver out of the moving car.

We then get one of those pointless “Oh no he’s dead oh wait no he’s not yay” bits with Penjenamin Franklin and Oliver. God I hate those.

Cut to a few days later and Fagin and the dogs are helping Penjenalinacontessalouisafranchescabananafanabobesca III celebrate her birthday. They give her some presents…

Burn it. Burn it all.

Burn it. Burn it all.

…say goodbye to Oliver and the movie ends with Dodger and the Gang singing a reprise of “Why Should I Worry?”

***

You know, if I want to watch a mediocre animated film trying way too hard to be cool and starring celebrities cast more for their star power than any actual vocal acting talent I’ll check out the latest Dreamworks.

OH NO YOU DIDN'T!

OH NO YOU DIDN’T!

So. If it’s as bad as I say it is it must have flopped terribly and killed any tentative reversal of the Disney Animation Studio’s fortunes in the crib, right?

NOPE!

Huge hit! The movie-going public flocked to this thing! It beat Land Before Time. This. Beat. Land Before Time. Probably the greatest film of Don Bluth’s career, a beautiful, heartfelt, dark, gem of a movie. And it lost to this crap.

Well. As a great man once said.

You fucking people.

You fucking people.

 Well, never mind. The success of Oliver and Company did have one very important legacy. On the strength of this (and the success of Pinnocchio on VHS)  the decision was made that the Disney studio would release a new animated film every year.

The stage was now set for one of the most breathtaking artistic comebacks in the history of film…

Scoring
Animation 13/20
Pff. ‘Sfine.
The Leads: 7/20
Oliver is okay, Dodger is just obnoxious.
The Villain: 13/20
Sykes is a decent, if not spectacular villain
Supporting Characters: 3/20
Rakes
Music 10/20
A few decent songs, not particularly memorable overall.
FINAL SCORE: 46%
Next Update: 02 May 2013
Next Time: I don’t know when. I don’t know how. But I think something’s starting right now…

Breathe

Neil Sharpson AKA The Unshaved Mouse, is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger living in Dublin. Try to steal his blog and he will kill you with Care Bears.

32 comments

  1. Yes, we’re getting into the Disney Renaissance!

    And to think, Billy Joel, never acted in another film afterwards…I wonder why!

    I personally find “Why Should I Worry” to be THE MOST OVERRATED DISNEY SONG EVER, and can’t stand it! Also I find the “Good Company” song to be one of the most UNDERRATED Disney songs ever, and it’s probably the only Disney song that can make me cr…ALMOST cry! I know, scold me!

    While it’s true that “Oliver & Company” outdid “The Land Before Time” in terms of domestic grossing; “The Land Before Time” outgrossed “Oliver & Company” in terms of WORLDWIDE grossing, and actually became the highest grossing animated film of its time! It would hold that title until “The Little Mermaid” would break that record.

    Great post as usual, unshavedmouse! I’m ahead of you in my Disney Canon project (I’m at “Aladdin” already) 😉 , but in the the end, it’s quality and not quantity; and your posts are indescribably more qualified…umm…qualitified…umm…quality-filled…umm…have more quality than my posts!

    1. If it’s any consolation, it’s worth noting that Oliver only outgrossed “Time” domestically by about 5 million (53 mil vs. Time’s 48 mil).

      I actually read that Disney left Oliver in theaters longer than the norm specifically so that would happen.

  2. Aww, I’ve been waiting for you to do this one! This is the first Disney movie I remember watching in a theatre, so I’ve got a bit of affection for it, only it’s that exasperated kind of affection you feel for a painfully socially-backwards child — “Please, please, for your own sake, just stop. Just . . . just stop.”

    But for all its flaws, I have no problem with the fact that this movie beat out “Land Before Time.” I’m not saying “Oliver” is better — it clear is not — but it does right a great wrong: that “Fievel: An American Tail” beat out “Great Mouse Detective.”
    GMD is cerebral and funny and heartfelt and scary; it has freakin’ VINCENT PRICE and hell, they even got in an audio clip of BASIL RATHBONE as Sherlock Holmes! And yet Basil of Baker Street lost to Durpty Durp “Look, Papa, smoke, is the boat on fire?” *snort snarl rage* . . . sorry. My Sherlockiana is showing. Anyway. Point is, Disney unfairly lost to Bluth, Bluth unfairly lost to Disney, the balance is restored. (And now, onto the movie that made hundreds if not thousands of girls under age 10 try to mimic Ariel’s “Part of Your World” reprise in the bathtub only to flood out the entire bathroom in the process. *whistles innocently*)

    BTW, if Jock is the Highlander, what are Peg and Trusty? Because they’re in the street shot too behind Jock. And let’s not forget — Trust was originally supposed to have died in the carriage accident. 😉

    1. Trusty is a mutant with an accelerated healing factor. Peg is a daywalker. Pongo (who we also see) is the final regeneration of the Doctor. American Tail is not as good as Basil but it tries and it’s a very interesting film. I’m okay with it beating because it means the public took a chance on something new. I’m a big Disney fanboy (please, no gasps of astonishment) but LBT should have eaten this thing like a lawyer in a theme park bathroom.

      1. But then again, Disney can always threaten to have its layers eat them up in their theme park’s bathroom, remember that.

  3. Great review. 🙂 That’s kind of funny about their original plans to reuse Penny for this film, since like you said back in The Rescuers review they’d originally planned to reuse Cruella as the main villain in that film. It’s crazy to think that, if things had gone a little differently, 101 Dalmatians, The Rescuers, Oliver and Company, and The Rescuers Down Under would all have existed in some bizarre sub-canon within the Disney Feature Animation lineup. Makes me wonder if there’s an alternate continuity out there where it actually happened… maybe it’s near the Bluthiverse. 😉

    1. Hmm. It may be time to construct a map showing which Disney movies share characters and exist in the same universe. Alice in Wonderland and Basil do (Bill the lizard is in both). Ditto Hunchback and Beauty and the Beast (you see Bulletin a street scene). Can anyone think of others?

      1. That’s easy…thank to Who framed Roger Rabit and Disney’s House of Mouse, they all exist in the same universe.

      2. Well…a hint for the next movie..pay attention to the paintings in Erics Castle…looks like he is related to Aurora.

      3. Isn’t Pumbaa seen dead in Notre Dame at some point? In which place, Hercules would be in the same universe as the two French Renaissance movies as well as the Lion King.

        Also, I think Merlin’s sugar bowl somehow found his way to the Beast’s castle. And of course there’s Professor Porter owning Mrs. Potts in Tarzan.

        On another note, poor Bill. It appears that in his attempts to heroically investigate that beast who stepped on my mother once, he was subsequently blasted out of Wonderland, heh heh… forever.

  4. I grew up with almost all the Disney films, and I really enjoyed each one. But even as a kid I couldn’t get into this film. Oliver bothered me as well, the only part I liked was Georgette. I haven’t seen this film for at least 10 years, but I doubt I’d like it any better now.

    And was that an Animaniacs reference I saw there? Yay!

  5. I sooooo share your feelings…this is the movie which nearly put me off Disney alltogether. And it is still my last favourite Disney movie. Forget the Black Cauldron, forget Home on the Range, those movies are bad, at least for Disney Standart, but at least they have a narrative which makes sense. With this movie, nothing makes sense. I don’t get the motivation of any of the characters, with the exception of Oliver and Jenny…that’s right, the blandest characters in the whole movie are the best ones on the virtue of not being stupid egomanes with stupid plans. I don’t get why Dodger is happy with leaving Oliver behind the one moment, but worried about him the next. And yes, this is one of the few Disney movies I DO consider offensive and a little bit racist. I also think that all the cameos underline the impression that the character design is based on unused scetches from “Lady and the Tramp” and “Aristocats”.

    I don’t even like the music, I think “Why should I worry” is overrated. And all the 80s references make the movie look horrible dated. And I actually like the 80s….I mean, I know how New York looked in the 80s, and yes, the was a bad, bad time for this town. But for me, on a more personal level, the 80s were a great time. Not jazz, but Neue Deutsche Welle, the end of the RAF (not that one, the German one which terrorized the land for a decade), a time, in which everything seemed to be allright with the world and it just became better and better. It was the time which ended with the wall of the Berlin wall. The ninties – that was a shitty time, and even worse fashion-wise with all the neon. But when it comes to Disney animation, the 80s were horrible, and the 90s finally brought them back to top.

    1. Oh and Disney might have done Oliver Twist with dogs…but he would have done it good! He wouldn’t have shyed away from the darker parts of the book, he would have created Dodger and Fegan as the somewhat dark characters they are, or he wouldn’t have done this movie at all. (I actually like the basic idea of the movie, but you con’t do this book without getting dark.

    2. See, I associate that feeling of optimism with the nineties more than the eighties. Berlin Wall coming down (eighties technically i know but just barely) end of the Cold War and apartheid. And over here we had the start of the Celtic tiger and peace in Northern Ireland. Good times.

      1. The thing with the Wall coming down is that it was initially a moment of elation…but when the dust settled, all the problems cropped up. It became obvious very quickly that it would need a long time to destroy what we call “the wall in our minds” (and no, still not gone…perhaps the next generation will be able to heal what we can’t). The need to somehow accomandate the need of the former DDR put a large strain on the social system of the BRD. A lot of social problems which were surpressed under the old regime of the DDR came back full force…it lead to Unemployment, to racism, to Asylums in Rostock and other eastern towns getting set aflame.
        The 90s were also the time of the Kosovo war, and the war in Croatia aso…. It was like all the countries around us were falling apart. And since Germany was no longer under the control of the Allies, it was the first time for a very long time that our soldiers were sent out, even if it only was for so called “peace mission”.
        I can see that is was different for ireland, but for us it was basically the end of peace…ironically. It should have been a new beginning, and it wasn’t, which was one of the biggest let-downs ever. And might be an explanation why the Disney movies during that time worked so well. The promoted hope in a moment when it was really needed.

  6. *LadyPlague walks in, wrapped in bandages, dripping small trails of blood, with a limp in her step, uttering something about a demon*

    So…*pants heavily* what did I miss- *sees Oliver and Company*

    Oh…this film.

    This isn’t my least favourite Disney film, but it’s definitely around there. I liked Fagin, (then again, I’ve mostly liked Dom De Luise’s work) and sometimes Georgette would interest me (when she wasn’t being unlikeable), but this film’s mostly forgettable.

    OH! And before SHE kicks in again, if you look at Georgette’s wall of dog portraits carefully during her song (around the top left area), you should see Ratigan. (yet another one of this film’s cameos)

      1. *calms down and sighs*
        Well it’s not exactly easy dealing with your demonic inner-fangirl.
        I mean it took tons of salt and days of prayers *2 weeks to be exact, which funny enough is how long it took for your next review to come out* but I finally stopped her assault and I shoosh-papped her right back into the box. *where I normally keep her, because as you can guess, she’s dangerous*

        But yeah, that’s what I thought when I first saw the cameo.
        I can’t wait for your next review!

  7. Yeah, this movie is pretty bad. I watched it for the first time two weeks ago, and I felt very manipulated. Like NostalgiaCritic said, it feels like they were merchandising it by saying “These dogs are so cool, one of them wears glasses, so rad” type of thing, and it seems like than was a movie to sell a bunch of toys and merchandise.

    This movie moves way too fast to get invested in any of the characters, and all of the 80’s stuff seriously dated the film. Not a lot of the characters are not memorable, and are we supposed to believe that Dodger wanted to protect Oliver like a father when just earlier that day, he was ready to ditch the cat? This movie had the “This is cool” feeling which really worked against its disadvantage. Everything in this movie is rushed and unbelievable. Great review

  8. Great review as always, I don’t like this film that much either. Just one thing, it Colombian, not Columbian. Colombia’s the country, Columbia the district

  9. Oliver and Company… Yeah, I guess this is another one of those forgettable-mourning-era movies. I don’t have much to say about it either. My main memory was for some reason right after watching it repeatedly pretending to tell DeSoto to wake up at dinner for some reason. Childhood memories are weird.

    Ha ha, I like the lampshade hanging of that quote not being from anywhere at the time. And obviously the directors were out of touch. The answer to the question “What would Walt do” has only one answer and that is “BROOOOOOOOMMS!!!”

    …Or I guess glean stories from Cosmo or something.

    Cue Edgar, it’s spit-take time. Billy Joel is in this movie?!?!? Why am I just learning this obscure Disney movie’s got one of my personal favourite musicians in it? Also, does Ms. No-Means-No supply fixing procedures?

    So if Jock is the Highlander, does that make Oliver the avatar of Thor Putnam who apparently gets himself a new stray animal for a body every decade? Does that make one of the alleycats an avatar of Thor’s too? I wonder which one he is.

    Also, am I the only one who always mixes up Cheech’s chihuahua with the chihuahua in Lady and the Tramp? Maybe I just haven’t seen the two movies recently/in a short enough time between to pick up differences, but I can’t think of any. And I wonder how much less broke Fagin (I can’t hear that name without finding it really weird Disney would even have a character called that. I guess he’s not the only one whose name might be censored in some sensitive sites, but his is kind of… in your face) would be if he didn’t sink so much money into Rita’s eyeshadow.

    As for Sykes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he only made the loans knowing that Fagin couldn’t pay them back just to get an excuse to abuse some guy. A lot of money to Fagin’s probably barely anything to Sykes, and Fagin’s in no position to drop charges without getting it much worse from the authorities what with stealing and having no bail, which Sykes could probably use to get off scott free. A perfect crime to scratch that sadistic itch. Though kidnapping Jenny was kind of dumb then. Though maybe he was hoping to pin the crime on Fagin, then make like he saved Jenny from him and rake in a reward. Maybe even take advantage of the head-fuzzying he mentioned earlier.

    Love Europe’s extremely confused reaction to Gangsta Asia. Poor continent. Right in the foot/soft underbelly. Is Gangsta Asia a Yakuza? That’s the first kind of Asian gangster that comes to my mind. Though I somehow doubt most Yakuza quote Snow Queen Elsa. Though then again, Japan does seem to love Disney.

    Hmm, I wonder how casting Penny as Oliver’s foster owner would’ve gone. There’s something kind of endearing having the orphaned child who seemed to never be able to sell herself to people adopting the kitten with similar problems. But then again, you’re on the nose with how much of a bummer it would be for Penny’s adoptive parents to basically take the diamond and bugger off with it. Though then again, maybe that could add to some bittersweet lesson to Penny to be sure to give the cat the love she still never got. I wonder if that would suit this movie being the tail-end of the mourning era. Maybe it was for the better to be less bleak to set the bar for the Renaissance a bit more.

    …Wait, didn’t Bette Midler sing the Peggy Lee songbook once? Hmm, it says here she actually sang “He’s a Tramp”. Wow, it really is a small world after all. And now I have that song stuck in your head because I am a dastardly waterfowl, mua-ha-honk-honk!

    Hey, wouldn’t it make more sense to call the sightseeing sequence Annie-esque? Didn’t Warbucks take Annie on a similar tour? I think Annie is more like Oliver Twist both being orphans from stories which have classic songs as soundtracks, right? And why would a cat care about a jacuzzi? Cats hate water! I think I need a fleabath, Nit seems to be biting me again. But of course he says that will not do anything because a Nit is a louse, not a flea. Argh.

    And if Fagin’s in before-the-Germans-get-there deep, why not just sic the magic armour on ’em? Well, I guess he didn’t make a deal with Panchito soon enough. Too bad too, Cheech probably had the connections, didn’t he?

    Hey, no joke, when I saw this movie I thought Georgette was upset at breaking a nail because that would hinder her ability to best the other dogs in a claw fight. Being too young to have a full grip on prejudices was nice while it lasted.

    Ha ha ha, your reaction to Jenny’s birthday presents made me picture Fagin going “great idea!” and making him and his dogs a classic street campfire.

    And yeah it was ridiculous that this movie beat Land Before Time, but I guess that’s what Bluth gets for being an animator-of-the-night, eh? And oy, did Oliver and Company do anything else Aristocats-y to not make fifty-something? I somehow don’t feel too sorry for it. I’m not too partial to this one.

    I guess the best thing about this movie is that it’s the last of the dark ages! Yay, Renaissance time!!

    …Is It’s A Small World still stuck in your head? Now it is. The Horned King’s final revenge.

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