I received 30 followers on 18 Cinema Lane two weeks ago! It’s time for me to review a film that was released 30 years ago (in 1988)! Because I’ve never reviewed a Disney animated film on my blog before and since the last time I reviewed an animated film was Rugrats Go Wild (for my 15 follower thank you review), I chose Oliver & Company for this milestone post. Oliver & Company is a film that I’ve only seen bits and pieces of, so I was looking forward to seeing this movie in its entirety. While choosing which movie I would talk about for this particular post, I realized that Oliver & Company was released the year before the start of the “Disney Renaissance”: when The Little Mermaid made its film debut. I came across a review of Oliver & Company from the blog, Reviewing All 56 Disney Animated Films And More!. In that review, Rachel, the creator and author of the blog, provided some insight into the importance of Oliver & Company. This insight made me interested to see the type of foundation that this film possibly put in place for the “Disney Renaissance” and beyond. Keep reading my review of Oliver & Company to see how I felt about the movie as a whole!
Things I liked about the film:
The characters: There were several likable characters in Oliver & Company! I liked how they each had their own unique personality and it was fun to see the various interactions between the characters. Some of the creative choices that were made in relation to the characters were interesting. For instance, there are times when a character who is a bulldog could be portrayed as a mean-spirited and tough individual. In Oliver & Company, however, Francis (who is a bulldog) is an aspiring actor who has a deep appreciation for the theater. This character stood out to me because I had never seen a bulldog, in television or film, portrayed this way before.
The animation: The animation style in Oliver & Company felt very reflective of the art styles and pop culture that could have been found around the film’s release (mid to late ‘80s). This reflection made the movie feel like an idea of what the ‘80s might have been like, shown to the audience as if they were looking at a snapshot. There were a lot of bright colors in this film that I felt complimented the movie overall. The use of light and dark colors was also well done. An example can be found toward the beginning of the film, when Oliver is left by himself in the middle of a rainstorm. In this scene, Oliver’s bright orange fur stood out against the dark blue background of the city. These choices relating to the use of specific colors added to the artistry of the animation!
The music: I really liked all of the music in Oliver & Company! While “Good Company” is a sweet and gentle song, the rest of the songs are upbeat and fun to listen to! To me, all of the music added to the entertainment value of this film. I can definitely see myself listening to Oliver & Company’s soundtrack long after the credits have rolled!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Lack of character development for the human characters: In Oliver & Company, there are only four human characters within the story. As I was watching this movie, I found myself wanting to know more about these characters. How Jenny felt about her parents, apparently, putting more emphasis on their dog, Georgette, than her was something that I was curious about. I also wanted to know more about how Fagin ended up in his particular situation as well as see him move out of poverty in order to achieve a comfortable life for him and his dogs. I understand this story is primarily about the animal characters. But, when it comes to character development for the human characters, I felt there was more to be desired.
A limited presence of the villain: When it came to the villain in this movie, I thought that Sykes was unsettling. However, compared to other Disney villains (and even some non-Disney villains), he wasn’t as terrifying as he could have been. In fact, I found his Doberman side-kicks, Roscoe and DeSoto, to be scarier than Sykes himself. This is because Sykes has a very limited presence on-screen and doesn’t receive a lot of character development. For these reasons, Oliver & Company doesn’t seem to have a lot of high stakes.
The run-time: There were a few times in Oliver & Company where situations seemed to happen too quickly. An example of this is when Oliver learns, at a fast pace, how to steal hot-dogs alongside Dodger. This issue is a result of the film’s shorter run-time. The other aforementioned things that I didn’t like about this film are also the results of a shorter run-time. Oliver & Company is one hour and fourteen minutes, which, as I look back on the film, made me feel like the movie went by very quickly. If this movie would have been an hour and 30 or 35 minutes, the human characters could have received a little more character development and the villain could have been featured more in the film.
My overall impression:
As a Disney animated film, Oliver & Company is fine. As a movie in general, it’s good for what it is. I know that there are other Disney animated films that are stronger than Oliver & Company, but I would never consider Oliver & Company to be the worst or weakest movie from the Disney animated catalog. I like to think of this film as the older sibling to The Little Mermaid. While Oliver & Company was the pioneer for what a Disney animated film could and should be (at that time), The Little Mermaid was able to enjoy the fruits of Oliver & Company’s labor because of those important building blocks that were set in place before the “Disney Renaissance” began. Oliver & Company’s efforts should be celebrated, which is why it’s receiving a “standing ovation” on 18 Cinema Lane! As always, thank you to each and every one of my 30 followers as well as my readers! 18 Cinema Lane and this review would not be the same without you!
Overall score: 7.4-7.5 out of 10
What is your favorite Disney animated film? Which movie from 1988 do you like the most? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
The link to Rachel’s review of Oliver & Company: https://54disneyreviews.com/2014/09/11/movie-27-oliver-and-company/