Walt Disney's Oliver & Company

Oliver & Company
Rating: G
Release Date: May 14, 2002
Version: Special Edition
Running Time: approximately 74 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: An orphaned cat falls in with a gang of thieving dogs, only to be redeemed in the eyes of a poor little rich girl.

  • Production notes
  • Theatrical trailers
  • The Making of Oliver & Company
  • Return of a Classic: re-release featurette
  • Disney's Animated Animals
  • Art Gallery
  • 2 Sing-along Songs: "Why Should I Worry?" and "Streets of Gold"
  • Two Pluto cartoons: Puss Café (1950) and Lend A Paw (1941, Oscar-winning short)

    Oddest Scene in a Disney movie: An English bulldog watches the most existential soliloquy from Macbeth.

    Tech Specs: Widescreen, aspect ratio 1.66:1, English, French and Spanish Dolby DTS 5.1 surround sound, English subtitles
    Type of disc: Dual Layer Format

    Not quite the "classic" that the extras on this disc would have you believe, Disney's Oliver & Company still has its charms and its importance in the Disney canon. Jeffrey Katzenberg had not yet stepped in and figured out how to put it all together (including how to whip children everywhere into a frenzy of recognition for its characters), but all the pieces that would allow Disney to re-take its animation crown are here in this 1988 effort.

    Loosely based on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, the film turns the English orphan boy into a lost New York kitten (Joey Lawrence). After a day on the streets, he falls in with The Dodger (Billy Joel), a raffish mutt slightly updated from The Tramp mold. The two make their way to a dilapidated boat in the harbor, inhabited by The Dodger's dog gang and their owner, Fagin (Dom DeLuise). (Among the dogs is a feisty Chihuahua voiced by Cheech Marin, early in his transition away from Tommy Chong.)

    Before long, the kitten joins the gang in its daily thieving, a necessity for Fagin to earn enough money to pay back the villainous Sikes (Robert Loggia). And then they encounter a lonely rich girl, Jenny. All paths cross, Jenny gets endangered, wacky hijinks ensue, and everybody gets their just rewards, joined along the way by the girl's absent parents' showdog Georgette, played by Bette Midler.

    So you see the pieces there: classic story given a Disney twist, celebrity voices (though before it had become cool to do), and oh, yes, music. Unfortunately, Oliver & Company doesn't have the sense of a cohesive musical, as each song is written by a different team, and clearly intended to be a hit single. While that worked for Disney in the fifties (until the Sherman Brothers came along, most of the music to their animated classics was a huge team effort), it ends up being embarrassing for 1988. Why? Because quite simply, the eighties was not a decade for timeless music. Does anyone still listen to The Pointer Sisters? If you watch Oliver & Company, you'll have no choice.

    On the technical side, though, the film marks a breakthrough. The studio had been on the forefront of using computer animation techniques in the earlier The Great Mouse Detective (a.k.a. Basil of Baker Street) and of course Tron, but each digital effect looked done on computer. Sikes' Cadillac has the slightly too-smooth lines of CG, but not the rough look of rotoscoping that plagued Detective. But several sequences utilize computers so smoothly that it seems a shame that Disney didn't really get credit for it until Beauty and the Beast. I wouldn't have known if not for the Behind The Scenes featurette on the disc.

    The rest of the extras offer little more than publicity hype instead of insight. That feeling may be just because Oliver & Company doesn't have the history of the earlier films or the weight of some of the later ones. (That Beauty and the Beast package coming in the fall is going to be massive, and worth it.)

    However, for the little ones the inclusion of two Sing-along Songs will be fun (one being that Pointer Sisters song, so if you're a parent, you may want to leave the room). And wisely, Disney dug into the vaults and included a couple of Pluto/Mickey Mouse cartoons that really are entertaining and a nice surprise.

    Though still a fairly recent development in Disney's DVD efforts, they have gone all out with the digital re-mastering of this film. The print looks sharp and clean (easily compared to the unremastered theatrical trailers), and the soundtrack, too, is free of mud.

    Buy Oliver & Company here.

    Derek McCaw


    Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001 by FanboyPlanet. If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
    Movies Comics Wrestling OnTV Guest Forums About Us Mystery Sites

    Click Here!