Oliver & Company

  • Review Date: May 8, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 74 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Can't compete with Disney classics, but still fun.
  • Review Date: May 8, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 74 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This rag-tag bunch of dogs represents all corners of New York City's diverse neighborhoods. But some of the one-liners, particularly from Tito can seem stereotyped, though not necessarily offensive.

Positive role models
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

Youngest viewers might be frightened by some of the threats that Mr. Sykes puts forth. He's even shown loading an automatic weapon with a cartridge of ammunition.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Some signs in the city backdrop look like recognizable
brands, but nothing is discernable. Georgette is very pampered. Jenny is a
privileged child, but her parents are never home to care for her.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mr. Sykes smokes a cigar. The smoke wafts about, surrounding him in a yellow haze.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some scary moments, but kids will appreciate the way that Oliver takes care of himself and the way that the dogs take care of him, each other, and their human friend, the hapless Fagin.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Loosely based on Dickens' Oliver Twist, this animated Disney release is the story of an orphaned cat named Oliver who is befriended by vagabond dogs led by the dashing rapscallion, Dodger. Oliver is adopted by lonely rich girl Jenny, whose prize-winning poodle, Georgette (voiced by Bette Milder), has a world-class case of jealousy. First Oliver and then Jenny are kidnapped for ransom, but are saved from wicked Sikes by the clever animals.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

While not up there with the Disney classics, OLIVER AND COMPANY has real pleasures, especially Dodger's "Why Should I Worry" musical number (written and sung by Billy Joel) with Dodger leaping and dancing through Manhattan traffic.

There are also some scary moments, but kids will appreciate the way that Oliver takes care of himself, and the way that the dogs take care of him, of each other, and of their human friend, the hapless Fagin (Dom DeLuise).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this animated story compares to the Dickens classic about Oliver Twist.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 18, 1988
DVD release date:February 3, 2009
Cast:Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, Joey Lawrence
Director:George Scribner
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Friendship, Music and sing-along
Run time:74 minutes
MPAA rating:G
MPAA explanation:some mild violence and characters in peril

This review of Oliver & Company was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Teen, 17 years old Written bySynchronicity March 6, 2011
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

The most underrated Disney film of all time - and one of their absolute best

I've loved Disney films since I was born. No, really. I was born in '93, and the first film I saw in a theater was The Lion King. I think of all the films I saw in the theater during the first few years of my life, The Lion King and Oliver and Company hold the most special place in my heart. I've seen TLK and other Disney classics many times over, but I've only recently rediscovered Oliver. The status of the film is a bit like its central character - this was originally a very popular film back when it was released in 1988, and even got a rerelease in 1996 (where I was first exposed to its greatness), but it took 7 years for it to get on home video, had mostly mixed-to-negative reviews, and went from popular to criminally overlooked. In the 80s, the dark period of Disney history, Oliver and Company was the light at the end of the tunnel, and it helped pave the way for the best films to come out of Disney since the "Golden Age" period that began with Snow White (1937) and ended with The Rescuers (1977). The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and other films of the Disney Renaissance period (the 90s) were all created by the artists who started with Oliver and Company. But it doesn't give off the impression of being an experimental film; it ends up being a true classic. Oliver is an orphaned kitten living on the streets of New York City. He fights to survive until he meets Dodger, a dog (voiced by the always-cool Billy Joel) who is initially resistant to Oliver, but ends up liking him quite a bit. So much, in fact, that he introduces the kitten to his group of ragtag stray dogs, including the dumb Einstein, the smart Brit Francis, the sassy Rita, and the hilarious Tito. All of them help out a homeless man named Fagin, who owns a large debt to a loan shark named Sykes, one of the scariest villains in Disney's history. He owns two intimidating Dobermans, and they're both hostile towards Fagin's gang. Then, when Oliver learns how to survive, he's adopted by a little rich girl named Jenny, whose poodle Georgette is anything but pleased about. It all ends up becoming a tale of friendship and loyalty that's on par with anything Disney did during the Disney Renaissance. But the tone of this one is very gritty and realistic at points - a shock for Disney, but still counterbalanced with happy songs and what not. For example, the opening few minutes will make even the most hard-hearted cry at least a little, when Oliver is simply left alone in a dark and scary New York at night. But, the song playing during this scene, Huey Lewis' "Once Upon a Time in New York City", is sad yet uplifting, pointing towards better things that are yet to come. And that they do. The only other things to worry about are some mildly scary scenes (when Jenny gets kidnapped by Sykes, when the characters are threatened by Sykes' Dobermans, and the intense chase scene in the New York subway). Overall, though, CSM is wrong; they've got the same biased opinion on this as the film critics who haven't appreciated it for what it is: one of Disney's best classics. The music is awesome, the animation is awesome, the humor is awesome, the voice acting is awesome...so yeah. In only a little bit over an hour, Disney accomplishes more than most films of three hours can! Just see this one! You won't regret it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 3 year old Written bywonderwoman September 5, 2010
AGE
3
QUALITY
 
My son is 3.5 years and I thought it would be okay for him, but he was quite scared in parts. The dobermans with the big teeth were scary and the chase scene at the end. I had to keep telling him that I think it would be okay. It's too bad because I'm trying to find movies that we can watch with our son and thought this would be good, but maybe in a year or two...
Kid, 12 years old April 14, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

A Cool Movie, Darn You Rotten Tomatoes, you jerk, backstabbing murderer, and rat!

This is a fun film. It has unbforgettable songs. It's a cool movie. I recommeded it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models

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