Oliver & Company (1988)

Directed by: George Scribner

Written by: Jim Cox/Tim Disney/James Mangold/Vance Gerry/Mike Gabriel/Joe Ranft/Jim Mitchell/Chris Bailey/Kirk Wise/Dave Michener/Roger Allers/Gary Trousdale/Kevin Lima/Michael Cedeno/Pete Young/Leon Joosen

Based on novel by: Charles Dickens

Huh. This is a Disney movie? This is the most Don Bluth of all non-Don Bluth movies. And Don left Disney years ago!

The movie is based, of course, on Oliver Twist. Kinda. Almost. This time, though, it’s mostly dogs with a kitty as Oliver.

Oliver (Joey Lawrence pre-WHOA) is the last kitty left of a litter that was left in a box somewhere in Manhattan. After he gets rained out of his box he meets Dodger (Billy Joel), a street-smart dog who cons him Oliver into helping him steal some sausages. Dodger runs off, but Oliver follows him to his club house where his gang live (Cheech Marin, Richard Mulligan, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Sheryl Lee Ralph). They all work for Fagin (Dom DeLuise) who, in turn, works for Bill Sykes (Robert Loggia), a cruel gangster who doesn’t care who he exploits.

Oliver ends up getting accidentally adopted by Jenny (Natalie Gregory), a rich little girl with a heart of gold and a spoiled poodle named Georgette (Bette Midler).

There’s a kitten-napping. Then a kidnapping. Then a rescue. Then a happily-ever-after.

The characters are all super cute. (Although, Dodger is the picture of toxic masculinity.) The story is…ok. I just didn’t really care too much because I felt like there wasn’t time to get to really know any of these characters. About the only reason I cared about Oliver is that he was a cute little kitty.

The animation was alright, too. Just kinda nothing special. It has more CGI in it than the previous two movies (cityscapes, car chases, etc) and that was good, but the humans (except for Jenny) hideously designed. Fagin moved like a Ralph Bakshi character. That’s not a compliment.

Overall, this was a really mediocre movie. I was really hoping that I would like it more because I’m a big cat person…and I still kinda like Billy Joel. It’s kinda worth watching, but maybe not a second time. Or, at least wait a long time between viewings.

Also, one of the songs was written by Barry Manilow. Because they wanted a pop soundtrack. Seriously. No…seriously. There’s just no reason for that.