A clever kitten named Oliver teams up with a likable group of misfit mutts for extraordinary comedy, fast-paced adventure and musical merriment as Walt Disney Pictures' delightful animated feature, "Oliver & Company," returns to theaters everywhere for the first time in eight years. Initially released in 1988 and never available on video, the film was Disney's 27th full-length animated feature and the Studio's most successful animated feature up until that time. Significantly, the film signaled an exciting new period of growth and creativity at Walt Disney Feature Animation which would go on to produce an unprecedented nine new animated features between the years 1986-96. Thesuccess of "Oliver & Company" along with another 1988 release, Touchstone Pictures' wildly inventive "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" which combined "toons" with live-action characters and settings as never before, helped to generate new interest in animation andled the Studio to push the limits of their art form even furtherwith each successive project.
At the time of its initial release, Time Magazine called "Oliver & Company" "The snazziest Disney cartoon since Walt died in 1966"and described it as "a luscious comic valentine to New York City.' USA Today gave the film a 4-star review and noted that it had "the soul and technical expertise of such classics as 'Bambi' and 'Lady and the Tramp." Film critic Joel Siegel was equally enthusiastic and said "This movie is magic" while referring to itas "another Disney classic." Most importantly, moviegoers of allages embraced Disney's contemporary animated comedy and turnedout in record numbers to see it.
"Oliver & Company" also stands out for its innovative use of CGI(Computer Generated Imagery) and represented the first animated film to make such extensive use of this new technology. Disney's recent collaboration with Pixar on "Toy Story," the first animated feature to be animated entirely using computers, is the latest milestone for this exciting new animation technique.
Set against the skylines, streets and subways of modern day New York City, this contemporary re-telling of Dickens' classic storyintroduces a colorful animated cast of animal and human characters along with five outstanding original songs performed by such top talents at Billy Joel, Bette Midler, Huey Lewis and Ruth Pointer.
"Oliver & Company" follows the misadventures of an orphanedkitten (Oliver) who is taken in by a pack of pickpocket dogs, headed by Dodger, the coolest quadruped in Manhattan and their human master, Fagin. When a little girl from Fifth Avenue finds Oliver and takes him uptown to live among the swells, Fagin'sevil boss, Sykes, steps in and kidnaps the pair. His nasty plan to keep Oliver from having his customary nine lives is foiled however, when the ransomed kitty's "Bow-wow"-ery buddies decide to use their street savoir faire in order to rescue their feline friend.
With its contemporary approach and urban setting, "Oliver & Company" most closely resembles the 1961 canine classic "101 Dalmatians." The film also draws inspiration from the 1955 animated favorite "Lady and the Tramp" in its depiction of a world seen primarily from the animals' point of view.
Adding vocal definition to the film's animated cast is animpressive all-star ensemble of performers. Joey Lawrence("Brotherly Love") is the voice behind the naive but nervy title character while Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Billy Joel made his acting debut with the role of Dodger, a carefree canine who has a real New York state of mind. Multi-talented Bette Midler is perfectly cast as Georgette, a pampered pet poodle who thinks she's Park Avenue's gift to poochdom. Cheech Marin provides the volatile voice of an impulsive, hot-blooded Chihuahua named Tito.
Rounding out the vocal talent for Fagin's family is Roscoe Lee Browne as a high-brow bulldog named Francis; Sheryl Lee Ralph as Rita, a tough-talking but kindhearted "dog of the street," and Richard Mulligan as a mindless but lovable mutt known as Einstein.
The voice of Fagin himself is provided by comedian Dom DeLuise. Veteran actor Robert Loggia is the menacing tone behind the villainous Sykes and Natalie Gregory delivers the speaking voice for Jenny, a lonely little girl who finds "good company" with her new pet kitten, Oliver.
"Oliver & Company" marked the directorial debut of George Scribner, a 12-year Disney animator/storyman who originally developed the project with the late Pete Young. Under Scribner's guidance, six supervising animators and a team of over 300 artists and technicians worked for over 2 1/2 years to create this hand-drawn film in the time-honored Disney tradition. More than a million story sketches and drawings were required to produce the 119,275 hand painted cels which comprise the finished film.