When I think of Disney Animated movies, one of the last ones I remember is Oliver & Company. This in spite of Oliver being one of the Disney movies I saw theatrically as a kid. Its not too funny, the animation isn't too great- in fact it has a dirty grungy look. Oliver isn't that cute, the music isn't too memorable. You can see where this is going. Oliver is not a bad film, its just so plain all the way around.
Oliver (voiced by Joey "Whoa!" Lawrence) is an orphan cat that finds himself in the company of a bunch of dog thieves including the Piano Man Billy Joel as Dodger and Chihuahua Cheech Marin (Bette Midler also voices a rich "female dog" later in the film). But even though the dogs are thieves, they aren't bad, they are trying to help out their master (Fagin) who has gotten in too deep with some loan sharks. It probably all seems familiar if you have read Oliver Twist, on which this is based. Oliver is adopted by young Jenny, but good things in Disney movies never last (except for the happily ever afters). The dog pack "rescue" Oliver from the nice home he had found and then are offended that Ollie preferred the mansion to the dog's New York dump. Fagin decides that Oliver could bring in a nice ransom so he sends his demands to "the very rich cat owner person." Will she pay the ransom? Will Fagin turn over a new leaf? Will the loan sharks break Fagin's knee caps? I'll never tell...
Earning $53 million in 1988, this film was considered a pretty big success for Disney (at least until The Little Mermaid made huge waves in 1989). Surely songs by Billy Joel, Bette Midler, and Huey Lewis helped fuel the film's box office. Actually though, I found that while the songs are pleasant enough, I won't soon be humming them while riding the subway, or even remembering them for that matter. There are just far too many Disney movies with far better tunes. Having said that, there is nothing here that offended my senses or totally sucked either and that's worth something. So, if you love Disney you better check this one out too, but if you are just looking for a good film to watch, there are probably better ones out there. Sorry Ollie, you get a C.
Oliver & Company (Special Edition)