Oliver & Company – 20th Anniversary
Edition (Disney DVD)
Sound: C+ Extras: C Film: B-
It is hard to believe, but there was a time when The Walt
Disney Company was not on top and until the 1980s, it was more of a mini-major
than a major studio. On the road back to
recovery and then some, they had to revive the animated features that helped
them hold their own against the majors and other mini-majors during the
Classical Hollywood period. Always an
expensive process, they did everything they could as they rebuilt, even when
the likes of The Black Cauldron and Tron (with some early CG animation) did
not perform as well critically or commercially well as hoped, but that changed
in 1988 with the all-animated Oliver
Though it was shorter than some would have liked, it paved
the way for their climb back to the top all the way by featuring the best songs
any Disney or other animated feature had in many years, a bold new graphic
style that left he past behind and an energy that made up and makes up for its
lack of budget and now, its age. The
story is another variant on Dickens’ Oliver Twist with a young Joey
Lawrence voicing the character as a young cat.
Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, Bette Midler and Ruth Pointer are among the other
voices in one of the most underrated of all animated Disney films.
The most important thing is that both Disney and animated
features in general found a way to be fun again, which saved them, and no silly
comments about Akira! I would add that some of the later hand-drawn
Disney animated features (like Little
Mermaid and Aladdin) did not
have the heart and soul this one did, but that is a debate for another
time. I wish Disney (or anyone) would
dare to try something like this again, but we’ll see.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is not a
restored edition, which is what we hoped wee might find, but a passable
transfer with detail and consistency issues.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix tries to upgrade the old Dolby A-type analog
sound, but lands up sticking too much of it in the center channel and the
soundmix we get is too much towards the speakers. Extras include two bonus animated shorts,
sing-a-long section, games and a making of featurette on the film.
- Nicholas Sheffo