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.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness
Positive role models