The Walt Disney Animation Studios takes on the classic British author Charles Dickens in this unique version of the tales of “Oliver Twist” called “Oliver and Company.” Joey Lawrence plays Oliver an orphan cat who is taken in by Dodger, voiced by Billy Joel. While trying to help a thief rob a rich girl, Oliver gets trapped in the car and the girl takes him home to take care of him. This leads to what the Dodger thinks is a rescue, the thief realizing he can ransom Oliver, the girl showing up and the thief having a change of heart and a bigger crime boss kidnapping the girl until Oliver, Dodger and their friends rescue her.
This is the final film of what’s considered Disney’s Bronze Age of Animation. And while it’s not a bad film to end an animation era, it could’ve been better. The film was a lot of fun and featured some great songs from Billy Joel and Bette Midler. It also had some great comedic moments from Cheech Marin who voiced Tito. But, given the film follows the excellent “The Great Mouse Detective,” it feels like kind of a letdown.
The time between the death of Walt Disney and the launch of the Renaissance is also called Disney’s Dark Age because many of the films took on darker, more serious tones. While there’s a lot of lightheartedness early in the film, it definitely turns darker. And the themes of abandonment, kidnapping and the villain dying when his car is hit by a train is definitely something that I would describe as dark.
I enjoyed this film, but I didn’t necessarily love it. It had its great moments, but a lot of those were carried by the talents of Billy Joel, Bette Midler and Cheech Marin. It’s definitely better than “The Black Cauldron,” but not as good as “The Great Mouse Detective.” It’s a middle of the road film, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Ranking: 2.5 stars
What did you think of “Oliver and Company?”