It’s time for the Disney Animated Marathon to pick back up again with film #28, well, maybe pick back up was the wrong choice of words…
Screenplay By: Jim Cox, Tim Disney & James Mangold
Directed By: George Scribner
Recently I suggested that we consider “films that are the location they take place in” as a topic for the Dictator’s Club over at Filmspotting. I was thinking of films like Manhattan, Annie Hall, 28 Days Later…, and more that obviously take place in one location, and with Oliver & Company I have been presented the exact opposite. This is a film that wants you to know it takes place in New York, it wants to feel like, breathe like, sleep like and move like New York, but it ends up being any city, USA. If there weren’t a few songs telling the audience that we are watching scenes taking place in New York the locale of Oliver & Company could be anywhere in the world, that’s how plain and nondescript it manages to be. This in a nutshell is what plagues Oliver & Company, it’s a giant glob of plainness with nary a speck of spice in sight.
I’ve never claimed to be a big fan of ’80’s pop music, specifically the synthesized (I don’t even know if that’s the right term) brand of pop music that Billy Joel was a part of. This presented a big problem in my viewing of Oliver & Company, I could never shake the feeling that this was a Disney animated outing made to showcase a specific genre of music from the ’80’s, story be damned. Every character is a stereotype, but they can break into song at a moment’s notice so they serve the purpose the film wants them to serve. But, the music isn’t good, much like the animation and the look of the city, the music found in Oliver & Company is highly generic, the type that drips with leftover grease from the assembly line that birthed it.
I know I’ve been awfully harsh to Oliver & Company, but outside of a few funny moments there wasn’t anything that made me want to sing the praises of this film. Oliver & Company is the worst entry in the marathon so far, and a decided step back from The Great Mouse Detective, and a massive step back for the Disney Studios as they make their way into the ’90’s. If you’re like me the Disney completest in you won’t let you skip Oliver & Company, and because of that the only solace I can offer you is that it is a mighty short film, so at least a lot of your time won’t be wasted.