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Oliver & Company
1988 - - 72 Mins.
Director: George Scribner
Written By: Roger Allers (story ), Jim Cox, Timothy J. Disney, James Mangold
Starring: Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, Richard Mulligan, Roscoe Lee Browne
Review by: James O'Ehley

Eh, all we could find was this B&W pic . . .
Talk about a low point in Disney’s oeuvre.

This largely forgotten 1988 animated effort by the mouse house has been released as a “Disney classic”.

Do they have no shame? ALL of Disney’s movies are tagged as being “classics” according to the DVD and video box art!

To qualify as “classic” something must at least be of good quality and/or remembered with fondness. At the very least it must be old. Releasing last year’s “Treasure Planet” as a classic doesn’t apply. Now, 1988 may seem long ago to some of today’s youngsters, but take my word: it isn’t really, sonny. So “Oliver & Company” doesn’t qualify in that department either.

Nor does it qualify in the quality department. This is an amazingly bland movie, especially when one considers that the year before saw the release of “The Little Mermaid”, which heralded a change in the company’s fortunes.

The plot is a reworking of Dickens’s Oliver Twist – sort of. Oliver is a cute little furry kitten that is orphaned. He is taken in by a gang of dogs led by the Dodger (as in Artful), voiced by Billy Joel.

Yeah, crooner Billy Joel. Other voice talents include those of Bette Midler and Cheech of Cheech & Chong fame. Joel is okay, but not particularly good, maybe because his character isn’t all that memorable. Come to think of it, none of the characters are particularly memorable or funny or interesting.

I bought the "Oliver & Company" DVD for cheap at a sale for my little daughter. To be honest I’m not quite sure whether I’ll show it to her soon though.

On the one hand there are some excruciatingly cute characters. On the other, there is the villain and his two vicious dobermann sidekicks. They seem too intense, too out of place. Then there’s a homeless person (Fagan of course) who takes care of the gang of dogs. Try explaining homelessness to your little ‘uns one day. “You see, sweetie, capitalism creates an unequal society, because by enforcing a depressed work force huge corporations can save on labour costs and thus increase profits. Marx called it surplus of value . . .”

Members of the lumpen proletariat aside, seeing a little girl being threatened by vicious attack dogs might just be too much for very young kids.

This aside, kids probably will like “Oliver & Company”. Kids under the age of eight will watch any animated feature – a fact ruthlessly exploited by Disney and its endless series of direct-to-video sequels.

Parents will however not want to watch this one with them. The songs featured (pure ‘80s drivel) will annoy, the animation is only a notch above those of Saturday morning ‘toons, the dialogue is unfunny and all the characters are underdeveloped.
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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