Oliver & Company (1988)

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Released 21-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Puss Cafe
Gallery-Scrap Book
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Return Of A Classic:Theatrical Rerelease of Oliver & Company
Featurette-Disney's Animated Animals
Karaoke-Why Should I Worry?; Streets Of Gold
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 70:34 (Case: 74)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George Scribner
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Billy Joel
Cheech Marin
Sheryl Lee
Dom DeLuise
Bette Midler
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Billy Joel
Barry Manilow
J.A.C. Redford


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Portuguese
Hebrew
Croatian
Slovenian
Smoking Yes, seems to be a trademark of evil Disney characters
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I believe that Oliver & Company was the first movie signalling a new direction for Disney. Supposedly hip and up-to-date (and in some ways it is), it is obvious that this was the first of the new style and they had not yet fully come to grips with this new direction. Despite some problems, this movie was enough of a success for Disney to go on and make a whole new series of feature-length movies, starting with The Little Mermaid, then The Lion King and so on. It would appear that we have this movie to thank for all the great classics that followed. For this, we do owe it a debt of gratitude.

    Overall, I would place this film somewhere in between one of Disney's main feature productions and one of their second string sequels. The animation cannot be faulted (it apparently was in production for over two years). The music I quite enjoyed, although there are no 'classics' here such as you can find in later productions. I did not find myself humming any of the songs a couple of days later because none of them stuck in my mind.

    I suppose it is in the story where things fall behind the most. This is a nice little story based on Charles Dickens' classic tale of Oliver. In this version of the story, Oliver is played by a kitten and Dodger and his gang are a group of street smart stray dogs. Fagan is a tramp that looks after the dogs in return for the daily proceeds of their pick-pocketing activities. The antagonist in this film is an evil criminal with two nasty Doberman sidekicks. The film does not really follow the original story at all, but the feel is there in parts.

    They did bring in some very talented people to be the voice actors in this film. Billy Joel heads the list as the voice of Dodger, Cheech Marin plays one of the funniest characters, a chihuahua with real attitude called Ignacio Alonzo Julio Frederico de Tito. Cheech obviously has a ball with this part and this comes across clearly in the character, although due to an association I won't mention in the review of a children's film there was something that I kept expecting this little pooch to...ah...light up as it were. Bette Midler, Dom DeLuise and others continue the star line-up.

    Oliver first appears in this film in a cardboard box along with his brothers and sisters up for sale on a street corner in New York. As the day goes by, the other kittens are slowly sold off but alas, not even a price reduction can find a new home for Oliver. For some reason, he is left in the box after everyone goes home. After it starts to rain he is washed out onto the streets of New York to fend for himself. After a couple of near-disasters, he ends up in the company of the artful dodger, a cross breed mutt with street smarts. The story twists and turns a couple of times and Oliver ends up as part of Fagan's gang. The next day, while out on a heist, Oliver is 'captured' by the target of the sting operation. Luckily for him, this turns out to be a very lonely little rich girl who decides to adopt Oliver. This adoption does not go over well with the resident pet, a very pampered pooch called Georgette. The rest of the gang decide to rescue Oliver, not realising that he has found himself a very nice comfy home with a little girl that loves him. Georgette is only too happy to help get rid of this interloper but things get nasty when Jenny goes out looking for Oliver and falls into the clutches of our film's antagonist. It is up to this group of strays to rescue her before something terrible happens.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Overall, this is a pretty good transfer with only minor problems.

    Presented at 1.66:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this is somewhat less than the theatrical aspect ratio which seems to have been 1.85:1.

    The image is very sharp and shadow detail is very good. There is a very small amount of low level noise, mostly generated by the small amount of grain that is present in the transfer.

    The colours are very good overall with some lovely bright splashes and a nice overall palette. There is some very minor posterization in the large areas of single colour, again triggered partly by the grain. An example resides at 5:06.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts despite the fact that I suspect that this film is actually all on a single layer despite this being a dual layered disc. The extras are probably on the second layer, leaving the entire layer for the film. There is a tiny amount of aliasing in some scenes such as at 8:28 on the lower left of Oliver's face. Film grain is present, although if you are at a normal viewing distance to your screen it is practically invisible.

    The subtitles are reasonably accurate and easy to read.

    This is a dual layered disc but the layer change does not appear to be during the main feature.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The main English audio track is in Dolby Digital 5.1. There is also a Spanish track in Dolby Digital 5.1 along with Portuguese and Hebrew tracks in Dolby Digital 2.0. I only listened to the English track.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.

    The music is good, just not up to the standard Disney films can reach. Some of the songs are catchy while they are playing and as with all Disney films, the character actions and dancing are perfectly aligned with the music.

    The surrounds are active for pretty much the whole movie. While they are almost exclusively mono, they expand the soundstage quite nicely for both music and ambience.

    The subwoofer did not really have much to do.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    A very nice menu with the background separated into four sections. In each section is a scene from the movie. At first, the top left quarter plays the scene from the film. It then freezes and the next quarter takes over, showing its scene from the film and so on. Presented at 1.85:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Animated Short: Puss Cafe (6:54)

    I really like it when they include a cartoon on a disc - I miss that in the theatres these days. This is a very early Pluto cartoon. In this, he is pitched against a couple of cats that are after the milk and other food items in Pluto's master's house. The usual cat/dog thing ensues. Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Scrap Book

    Fourteen pages with a series of pictures on each, an average of four. Each picture can be selected and this then becomes full screen. You can navigate via the pages or select one to show full screen and then just keep hitting the right arrow key and step through the lot. The images are a collection that includes early concept sketches, model sheets, storyboards, production shots and promotional material.

Featurette: The Making of Oliver & Company (5:20)

    A short look at the making of this film with interviews, intercut footage from the film and some material shot while recording the voices and animating the cels and so on. Interesting up to a point, the best bit is where they jump up and down about the involvement of these new-fangled computers in animation. One chap expounds in a very excited voice that the motorcycle in the film was created in the computer and had sixteen moving parts - amazing! Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: Return of a Classic (1:56)

    I'm not quite sure what to make of this little extra. It is an ad for one of Disney's worst features, its removing from the market its product for decades at a time. They jump up and down about how good it is that the films are capable of being released again and again. Considering that kids do not arrive for everyone on the decade but throughout the years there are many that miss out on the classics because they are not available at the right time for their age. It is centred around the re-release of Oliver and Company but mentions the other Disney classics. Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    At this point I nearly stopped reviewing. The extras menu has a very small greater than symbol down the bottom next to the main menu entry. Hitting the right arrow brings up another menu with more special features - this second page could have been a little better flagged.

Featurette: Disney's Animated Animals (1:27)

    A very short piece talking about Disney's animated animal characters but focusing mostly on the characters in Oliver and Company. Really just an ad for the film, presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Karaoke: Why Should I Worry?; Streets Of Gold (2:49, 2:45)

    Two songs, in fact entire scenes, from the movie with subtitles and a bouncing ball. Well, actually it is a bouncing Mickey Mouse head silhouette.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this film misses out on;

    Looks to me like a marginal R1 winner , but it is really only a TKO. None of the extras are really that good and we are only talking an extra cartoon and a couple of pages of text, though the cartoon was an award-winner in its day.

Summary

    There are a couple of scenes in Oliver and Company where the bad guys get their just desserts that I thought were a little violent and unnecessary, although my co-reviewer (my son) did not even flinch so maybe I am being overly sensitive. If you have all the main Disney titles and are looking for your next purchase then this disc is not too bad, although I certainly think there are lots of better titles out there.

    The video is excellent.

    The audio is excellent for its age.

    The extras are little more than ads, other than the cute cartoon.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Monday, December 16, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
quite a good disney film - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)