The reasons for Disney to re-release Oliver & Company seem more fiscal than artistic -- to tout the inevitable video sale of this as-yet-unreleased cartoon, and maybe to tweak MGM as it releases its cartoon All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. In Disney history, Oliver & Company falls in that twilight region of Disney's fallow years. It was the last film released before the Eisner-Katzenberg resurgence started with Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid. Oliver & Company features one of Disney's first uses of computer animation, and it shows a few inklings of the good work about to come. But the movie itself is largely bland and unexciting.
Oliver & Company is a retelling of Dickens' Oliver Twist, with an orphaned kitten falling in with a street-savvy pack of pooches -- led by the crafty Dodger (voice of Billy Joel). Dodger and his pals pilfer money for their hapless human pal Fagin (Dom DeLuise), who owes money to the nasty businessman Sikes (with the voice and facial mannerisms of Robert Loggia). Along the way, kitty Oliver is adopted by a lonely rich girl -- a move that upsets the girl's reigning pet, a pampered poodle named Georgette (Bette Midler).
The story is trite, the songs are blah, and the animation on the tacky side -- there are even some product placements for Coca-Cola and Ryder trucks. The only character that ignites any fireworks is a feisty Chihuahua with the voice of Cheech Marin. Oliver & Company is a snooze, for diehard Disney fans only.
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