10A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 1, 1996
Oliver and his friends are very happy to be back on the big screen after eight years.
Old 'Oliver' offers no new twin
By Ryan Posly
Daily Arts Writer
When "The Little Mermaid" came out in
a new era for Disney's animated features, I
such money-makers as "Beauty and the B
"The Lion King" and last summer's "Poca
did these films all become enormous block
redefined the meaning of a Disney anim
sleek new animation techniques and the k
characters that kids and parents alike car
new breed of summer 'toons have come a
And apparently to show us just how far
the past eight years, Disney has re-release
pany," one of their most obscure animated'
to see why it became Disney's most
successful animated feature at the time
of its release in 1988: It signaled Disney's
first tentative steps toward computer ani-
mation and includes some truly exciting
musical numbers. But when viewed in
the context of today's vastly superior
technology, the animation looks flat.
Moreover, the story is flat. Based on
Dickens' "Oliver Twist," the film tells
the story of Oliver (Joey Lawrence), a
helpless, orphaned kitten in New York
City. This fact is important, since the
film reminds you again and again where
it'staking place, apparently because New
York is such a scary town. But don't fear, I
real reason for the attention to location is ac
"Oliver & Company" does a good jo
the original character names from Dick
that's about the only real similarity. T
rehashed Disney: Oliver finds a home
rough, weary dogs led by the street-smz
Joel). Their master, Fagin (Dom DeL
likable guy who owes money to Sykes (F
random bad guy. It's never clear exactly,
judging by his so-slick-it's-ugly black(
ows he is always lurking in, it becomes
sort of evil personified.
Oliver gets taken in by a lonely little ric
Fifth Avenue, and the two become fast "fri
the plot shifts into high gear. Dodger and h
"rescue" Oliver from what most pets would consider heaven;
in the process, they discover a way to get the money Fagin
11989, it launched needs: They'll kidnap Oliver and ask for ransom from the
t was followed by little rich girl.
east," "Aladdin,". Of course, everything works out in the end. In contrast to
hontas." Not only the novel's characters, the film's Fagin, Dodger and the gang
kbusters, they also are not bad guys; they're just trying to survive. But the fili
ated movie. With does cleverly indicate that Fagin is not necessarily a symp-
ind of stories and thetic character either. The obvious bad guy, Sykes is
n enjoy, Disney's defeated, and we're left with that happy feeling that accor
long way. panies the rolling credits of all Disney movies.
they have come in The vocal talent behind the characters in "Oliver & Con-
d "Oliver & Coin- pany" thankfully breathes a great deal of life into the stldry
features. It is easy Joey Lawrence of "Blossom" fame ("Whoa!") was consider-
ably younger eight years ago, and .his
REVIEW voice is almost totally unrecognizable
But he suits a kitten just fine. Bill"Joel
Oliver & provides a thick N'ew York accebtfer
ompan Dodger, sounding more like Ton}Wnz1 a
at times than like himself. Joel is eair-
prisingly good actor, though, <qt'
lone song is the highlight of the incs
Directed by George Cheech Marin provides manic ,og
Scribner; with the voices of relief as a feisty Chihuahua in Dodger's
Joey Lawrence gang, and Bette Midler is typecast4
Georgette, a pampered pet poodle wikrya
and Billy Joel massive ego.
At Showcase Usually the showcase of an animatec
feature is the animation, but here t4n
East Coast-ers, the pictures are dull and lifeless. This is probably due to fact that
:tually to celebrate this was a transitional movie for Disney, using considerable
amounts of computer generated imagery and video-aidec
b of maintaining animation for the first time. At the same time, they chos*
kens' classic, but create the backgrounds using antiquated techniques, which
'he story is pure give them the undetailed, nondescript look of televisior
with a band of cartoons. This creates a confused look to the animation
art Dodger (Billy which was corrected and perfected in subsequent Disney
uise), is a poor, films.
Robert Loggia), a In 1988, "Oliver & Company" was a huge success, and'it
who Sykes is, but ushered in a new era for Disney in which anything coulk
car and the shad happen, even an Oscar nomination for Best Picture ("Beauty
clear he is some and the Beast"). At best, it is a glowing tribute to New Yoi
City, and at worst, it is merely entertaining. While it mayt
h girl who lives on live up to today's standards, "Oliver & Company" is stir
ends." From there adequate children's movie in the classic Disney style, com-
is gang attempt to plete with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
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