Before I begin, can I say a massive sorry for not getting back to this sooner Bit of a mad time, but the DC is back on track…and here we go
Oliver and Company
Director: George Scribner
Before I begin, can I just make one thing clear…I hate Oliver Twist. I hate the book, film, musical and anything relating to the titular character who goes through so much shit, but is never corrupted in anyway shape or form, even if he had this sort of “mother worship” thing going on. However, this film has a kitten…and let’s face it kittens are cute.
Opening up with an image of New York City and the oh shit the World Trade Centre…I really miss it too.
As we see this sadly unintentional period piece, also known as New York in the 1980’s and oh my god what a shithole, the film doesn’t even bother trying to hide what the city looked like, which on some level I give them credit for.
It’s dirty, too many advertisements, and none of the companies paid anything to have their products advertised. But the animators realised earlier on that an ad-free New York, no one would take seriously so even though from the opening, the film is dated, in perhaps the worse way possible, I at least give them kudos for doing something new.
As we zoom in, on the little box of kittens, on the street corner which are all being sold for $5, until little by little are all gone apart from Oliver. Right I call bullshit on this already, he’s a kitten ever one loves kittens, he would have gone straight away…unless it’s because he was the only ginger one.
Perhaps that is the reason why the original owner never took him home or gave a shit, when the rain begins to fall and poor little Oliver is almost drowned in his box, which disintegrated because of the rain, and then down the gutter before being chased by dogs, and then having to hide under a wheel of a truck which naturally has the potential to kill him the next morning.
Oliver really is, having a shitty day isn’t he?
In the harsh light of day, courtesy of a “boom box” (remember them?) Oliver finds his rhythm whilst desperately trying to get attention, and not getting killed because as he’s already learned it’s a tough world out there and seeing it all from a cats perspective is very original but no one pays any attention to the kitten apart from a small child…oh come on really!
Almost on cue, after Oliver sees and tries to get some sausages from a stereotypical hot dog vendor, we finally meet Dodger who after he’s sexually harassed a pair of bitches because their “uptown dogs” he sees Oliver and actually used the word “cat-strophy”. Really, they went there!
First impressions of Dodger, he’s a bit of a bastard, he has some of the same aspects of the Tramp from…Well guess? However none of the charm as he spies Oliver, and decides to use the kitten to abuse the poor, ok the vendor is a bit of a dick (but voiced by Frank Welker…all hail!) but still the hot dog stand is still his livelihood, even if Oliver is interrupting the human, but he’s still a kitten after all.
Dodger is just a scheming bastard as he approaches Oliver and tells him he’s going to “teach him some moves, to liberate those all beef kosher francs”, this is a genius line since for many dogs, pork is toxic to them…I personally know this to be true.
In the ensuing melee Dodger gets the sausages, and because he’s a bastard doesn’t want to share as we laugh into an education song about “Street savoir faire” and my god this song is catchy, it’s not that good and for some reason both animals manage to defy the laws of gravity…But it’s catchy even if it’s very 80’s. As Dodger proves once again, he is a slick bastard (he even has groupies) but you have to give Oliver some dues for never giving up and we get some sweet cameos from other (better) Disney films as we see Peg, Jock and Trusty from Lady and the Tramp and Pongo from 101 Dalmatians.
As we now cut to a dilapidated boat…somewhere on the Hudson, we meet the dogs that make up Fagan’s gang who are all stereotypical on a level that hasn’t been seen since Lady and the Tramp. But that was ok since they were all bit character, these guys aren’t. Let me break them down by character.
Tito the Chihuahua, a hyperactive Mexican, so is Speedy Gonzales in canine form and quite annoying
Einstein the Great Dane, who is ironically named because he’s a total dipshit and is the strongest of the group
Rita the Saluki, the only girl in the group, does remind me a little of Peg from Lady and the Tramp, and for some reason wears purple shadow. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it. And why is she wearing eye shadow? She’s a bitch, that’s obvious. Does she do something else on the side, which should never be mentioned in a Disney film?
Francis (Frank or Frankie) the Bulldog, ah very British, hates being called anything other than Francis and is first seen watching Shakespeare on a crappy TV. Disney so missed a trick not putting on The Sword and the Stone, because that would have been both meta and funny!
We quickly learnt that it was Francis’s turn to get the food, and because he didn’t or couldn’t or was too distracted by the “arts”, awww now all the poor dogs are going to starve.
Well until Dodger walks in with the goods and claims that he had to fight off a street cat, and pretty much describes Shere Khan…well until Oliver falls through the roof, and Tito’s first reaction is the scream out that “It’s a gang war”. A Gang War…seriously!
In the melee Oliver is discovered, Dodger is rumbled and for some reason Tito can use a knife and fork like a human would! Dodger is deliberately nonchalant to Oliver, as for some reason this all ends in a “dog pile” and we finally met Fagan.
Ahh the famous Fagan voiced by Dom DeLuise (which brings a whole separate issue, which I’ll get into at the end), the owner, protector and crime boss of these street dogs, who is distraught that the pickings of his dog thief crew aren’t enough.
Maybe because their dogs and brought home a load of shit, would be an indication to get out of the game as quickly as possible , but he doesn’t have the time to lament the situation because immediately afterwards we meet Sikes.
In this incarnation of Oliver Twist if Fagan is a lovable (debatable) loser of dogs, Sikes is a moneylender with dogs as his hired muscle. I know there was a recession in the 1980’s, but this really is a step in logic, like what the hell possessed Sikes to lend Fagan money in the first place? Seriously, he trains dogs to commit crime, ergo he’s not that bright. End of the day you can’t whine about your investment being paid back, when you lend money to the village idiot!
Fist impression of Sikes, as he sits in his glaringly obvious CGI car, as he smokes cigars…Ahh, good old evil smoking. What we learn about him which isn’t much because his motivation is that he lent Fagan money, Fagan cannot pay up so he’s screwed. If he pretty much wasn’t threatening Fagan with concrete shoes and being a total bastard, he’ll be unforgettable, in a sense though he already is.
Sikes gives Fagan three more days to come up with the money, as in the boat Sikes guards dogs (Roscoe and DeSoto) decide to harass the street dogs until Oliver is spotted and I give the kitten full kudos for hitting DeSoto across the snout, a kitten went toe to toe with a Great Dane, this kittens got more balls then Dodger.
Naturally this leads to a standoff, the TV is broken and of course Tito being Tito has to get the last word as the wet and disheveled Fagan walks in and we see why the dogs love him so much since he takes care of them, so they take of him. However, even though this scene is cute with them assisting their master, and putting a blanket around him. It doesn’t change the fact that Fagan has taught these dogs to commit crime, their trying to present him as life’s victims when at the base level he’s just an asshole. Ok, he loves the dogs, I’m not disputing that but what he does, what he has trained them to do is just sickening. I know in the context of the film it can be argued that at least these dogs are safe and have a home, in comparison to the dog pound or death. But at the same time, it’s just jarring.
Fagan immediately lets Oliver into the gang, after learning that he was the one who took a paw to the dogs face and after telling them how screwed he all is, he gives the dogs a bedtime story, in a scene that I guess is meant to distract what type of person he really is.
Cute scene, however…yes, I guess everyone loves Fagan, who is an asshole but not 100% a dick!
This scene however is clearly filler, even if it clearly does illustrate the bond that is developing between Oliver and Dodger. The next morning we see Fagan dropping the dogs off on the street like a pimps telling them to make money whilst Rita, (the one wearing eye shadow) introduces Oliver to what they do, through the magic of song. Even in song format everything seems to have it in for Oliver as we get “Streets of Gold”. It’s shot like an 80’s music video clearly intentionally, and it is jarring that Rita’s voice goes from the softness of Sheryl Lee Ralph to the stunning but loud and aggressive Ruth Pointer. The song is catchy. However, it’s not that good and very similar to “Why should I worry”.
As soon as the song ends we see exactly how Fagan teaches these dogs to make a living and that is to use Einstein, the dipshit one to throw himself into a car…maybe that name wasn’t ironic. Prehaps he was once a genius, before he was concussed over and over again? They then use Francis and his overacting skills to “play dead” so Tito can slip through the open door and steal the radio…and this is insane
n this fateful day however Oliver is assigned the job of being lookout whilst Tito pulls the wires, and these dogs could be killed easily every day pulling this stunt, so has Fagan left a trail of dead puppies along the streets of Manhattan?
Are we still meant to feel bad for Fagan…well fuck that?
As look out Oliver being a kitten and all proves to be a pretty useless one since there is a little girl in the back called Jenny, and oh my god its Penny from The Rescuers! Right let’s do some research on this…thank you imdb!
Early in the film’s development it was decided that it would be a sequel to The Rescuers (1977). The producers then decided that the story wasn’t convincing and started from scratch. The only things left are the New York setting and a few similarities between Jenny and Penny.
A few similarities seriously, although so they missed out on a trick not having this a sequel to The Rescuers since they actually did a sequel to the 1977 film!
However it would be a bit upsetting to learn that the little girls parents have pretty much dumped her, with her chauffeur Winston whilst they travel because of their work, which leaves the little girl depressed since they’re going to miss her birthday. Imagine that being Penny and you have a slew of issues however because of the similarities I’m going to call this girl Jpenny from now on.
So Jpenny is upset that her parents are going to miss her birthday, when she sees Oliver and reacts like anyone would when they see a kitten and adopts him on the spot…finally. Due to the chauffeur seeing sense, the rest of the dogs have to leave empty handed and after seeing that the cat isn’t with them decide to mount a rescue for him, whilst Jpenny takes the cat home brushing aside her Wilson’s concern that her parents will mind the cat staying. I think there trying to paint Jpenny as the lonely child, but I’m really not buying it, as the Winston laments rather ominously “ Georgette won’t be happy”. Straight after this we meet Georgette, a narcissistic bitch of a French poodle, a show dog who has her own pimped out bed which she rises from and launches straight into “Perfect isn’t easy”.
Things to know about Georgette, she also wears eye shadow and in her own song which is a tribute to Cinderella and I do think someone on the staff just thought “Screw it, let’s go Broadway-style” with this song. However, it is forgettable and does not fit in with the content of the film yet Bette Midler is having a blast with this moment and you cannot fault her for that.
Ok at the word count so back in two days, see you then xx