Oliver & Company Reviews
The plot of Oliver Twist is essentially the plot for Oliver & Company but with animals in the main roles. It swaps the human Oliver and the human gang with a cat as Oliver and dogs as the gang. Oliver seeks shelter and friendship from a gang of dogs but at first is subjugated and treated unwantedly but as the bonds between them grow tighter, their friendship grows until Oliver is taken to a home to live with a young girl who adores him. The confliction Oliver therefore feels is quite an adult matter but the film does not explore this inner confliction adequately. Yes it is meant to be a film for younger viewers but the great Disney classics deal with adult issues more in-depth and effectively.
Even though there are both human and animal characters, it feels like it is more about the dogs and we tend to prefer it this way. The owner of the dogs just like the novel is Fagin who is of human form, and even though he is a thief we empathise with him because he is good natured and looks after the dogs, but in truth, he is not that likeable because his ruggedness and slack looking stature is quite repellent. Unquestionably, there is something about Fagin that tells you he could have been a better character. There are countless number of Disney films that are successful in partnering humans and animals in the same film together such as The Jungle Book. However, Oliver & Company‚??s problem is that it has too many humans and too many animals in it to even allow it to become intimate. Oliver & Company falls in to the Disney realm of Brother Bear rather than The Jungle Book because we are not able to mould a connection to the characters. Come on, tell me Mowgli and Baloo are not classic human and animal characters!
Animation-wise, there are lots of drab colours and plenty on the screen considering it is set in high-rise New York, but the visuals are not that strong compared to animated films made a quarter of a century earlier. The images are not that striking at any glance; they each don‚??t have any individuality about them making the pictures forgettable.
On the topic of voice acting, Billy Joel as Dodger, Cheech Marin as Tito the Chihuahua and Bette Midler as Georgette the Poodle are standouts amidst a crowd of chaotic voices and sounds. Well, Joel‚??s singing, especially for ‚??Why Should I Worry?‚?? is dizzyingly catchy, Marin‚??s Tito just never stops talking but does bring excitement and vibrancy to the proceedings, and Midler‚??s Poodle is majestically different and probably the most intriguing animal in the film.
Joel‚??s ‚??Why Should I worry‚?? is probably the only song out of all of the ones heard in the film that can actually make the annals of greatest Disney songs. It will play on your tongue over and over again that is how memorable it is. The overall flaw of Oliver & Company is that the first half builds up well and it is more about introducing and developing the animal characters. The songs are catchy and fun and it is representative of Disney‚??s best work, however, the second half of the film starts off to not live up to the first half with its sorrowful tone and disinteresting human characters and therefore the film does unfortunately take a descent into commonness.
Oliver & Company follows in the same steps of previous Disney films by recycling great literature for its storyline but regrettably does not follow in refashioning it in their own transcendent way. Nevertheless, still an enjoyable film for all the family.
Just go to YouTube for the songs.
The animation is adequate but a bit archaic, and the story has very little to do w the original story - IOliver Twist.
But all that aside, it's ok for bored kids on an uneventful rainy Saturday.
Better yet, just send the kids out to play in the puddles - much more memorable than this flick.
It'd used its flair to adapt a Charles Dickens story with nice animation in points and meaning well, but it was done with less magic. It's a rare film that shows that the audio is better than visual in most moments. (B)
(Full review coming soon)
I certainly didn't regret watching Oliver & Company because it was entertaining in parts and its flaws were not precisely too damaging, but they were enough to limit the film to being a half-decent experience at best. It was easy to isolate the flaws in Oliver & Company, particularly when compared to other Disney films. It is arguably one of the more forgettable ones because even as a version of Oliver Twist it ended up resorting to a lot of Disney cliches which got in the way of it trying to be a legitimate story and ended up losing sight of what it was doing. By that I mean that the film intends to capture the spirit of Charles Dickens' source novel and put in into the medium of an animated film, but in doing so it sacrifices a lot and doesn't bring too much to the table. I mean the story in Oliver & Company is very scattered with its intentions always changing as new characters are introduced to it, and there are so many times that this happens over the course of its short 73 minute running time that it really ends up being a bit too much for the film itself and the viewers to handle. It certainly has a surplus of characters to it and a rushed pace which tries to go past its narrative flaws at a quick pace, but the actual level of success that it endures is limited. As an adaptation of Oliver Twist, it only ends up being half assed, although I expected as much.
Oliver & Company is more important as a child friendly Disney film than it is as an adaptation of Oliver Twist, but even then it is not that much of a great film. It has all the childish spirit, but it is a scattered affair due to a cheaply conceived story which is not told all that well and a comically generic screenplay. I'll admit that I laughed enough during Oliver & Company for it to be semi-entertaining, but the jokes in the film were certainly not all that consistent and had to play out against the backdrop of a predictable plot which was full of sentimentality the whole way through while only managing to succeed at a rate which proves to be sporadic. I was able to sympathise for the characters well enough in Oliver & Company and was able to find some of them compelling, but again, it was inconsistent. Oliver & Company is a film full of inconsistencies in one way or another, and it is more about characters than it is about story which is obvious considering the lackluster narrative and storytelling, and its script is full of cheap gags. It is not difficult to see why people would consider Oliver & Company a lesser effort on behalf of Disney because its gimmicks can only go so far before its thin premise, surplus of plot dynamics and rushed pace all take their toll on the film as a whole. There is a certain level of enjoyment that viewers can get out of Oliver & Company, but it certainly does not come from the film being an adaptation of Oliver Twist or the story in general strictly because it is a very scattered affair which is all over the place in terms of plot dynamics while it rushes through the tale at a mad pace.
But there is still enough in Oliver & Company to warrant entertainment for some, and arguably enough to bring the young audiences in.
The colourful animation in Oliver & Company was a nice touch. It isn't precisely as detailed or organic as one might hope, but the fact is that it has a very broad colour palette which is able to give a charming design to its many characters as well as the fact that it has some creative moments making use of three dimensional techniques. All in all it has enough visual magic to suck in the young viewers which is its target demographic, but even I found myself with an appreciation for it because it had a lot of visual spirit to it which made it a charming visual affair.
Oliver & Company is criticised for the nature of its musical numbers. For me, I thought they were ok. The songs in the film certainly weren't among the best that Disney has ever crafted and lacked the same kind of uplifting spirit or originality, but as a whole they embraced the same form of childish spirit that the film did and helped it move along as well as the fact that the cast do a good job singing everything out. The songs in Oliver & Company do enough of a good job to make the film a treat on the ears as well as the eyes, and the voice cast manage to do the same by easily working with the script.
Cheech Marin is the finest member of the voice cast. In his first of many collaborations with Disney, he takes on the role for Ignacio Alonzo Julio Federico de Tito in Oliver & Company and he does it excellently because he manages to really heavily make use of his stereotypical comic persona and put it into the role easily. He fits the profile of the character's appearance and delivers all of his words with a lot of determined comic charisma which rubs off on the film easily. He puts a lot of easy comic spirit into his line delivery which is perfectly over the to pand hits every line dead on, so he makes a memorable and comically pivotal presence as Tito the Chihuaua.
Joey Lawrence is also a nice touch. He fits the profile of Oliver easily because he projects a lot of easily likable childish charm simply through his tone of voice, and he delivers his lines with the appropriate level of determination which means the he fits the profile easily. It is easy to sympathise for him because he has a naturally likable nature to him.
Billy Joel does a nice job in his part as Dodger and brings his singing voice to the role very easily, and Bette Midler easily takes on the role of Georgette while bringing her natural spirit to the musical numbers.
So Oliver & Company boasts a strong voice cast and some colourful animation which give it a certain sense of childish charm, but it comes up against a predictable and scattered story which is paced a bit too fast and lacking in originality altogether.
If you expect to be surprised, you won't find much here. But if you crave entertainment, Oliver is sure not to disappoint.