Oliver and Company Review
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With its New York City skylines, its all-star cast, and its catchy pop soundtrack, Disney’s Oliver and Company is such a quintessential ‘80s movie that it’s easy to forget that it was inspired by the Charles Dickens classic, Oliver Twist—only it’s acted out by a lovable, four-legged cast.

Oliver and Company tells the story of a stray kitten (voiced by Joey Lawrence) who’s left to fend for himself on the streets of New York City. While scrounging for food, he meets a smooth, street-smart dog named Dodger (Billy Joel), who takes the kitten into his ragtag group of stray dogs.

While he’s helping his new friends steal to survive, Oliver meets Jenny (Natalie Gregory), a lonely little rich girl who takes him to her home on 5th Avenue. Finally, Oliver has a home—but his happiness and contentment are short-lived. Dodger and the gang decide to rescue Oliver from his young captor—and it gives their conman friend, Fagin (Dom DeLuise) and idea that could put Jenny in serious danger.

Though it isn’t my favorite Disney movie, Oliver and Company will always hold a special place in my heart—because, to me, it marks the beginning of the new Disney animated movies. I’ve always loved the older classics—and I always will—but there was just something about Oliver that, even when I first saw it as a kid, made me stop and pay attention. There was just something so modern—so updated—about it. It was hip. It was up-to-date. It was stylish. And the music was cool. After all, while previous Disney movies had some catchy music, they didn’t have the rockin’ music that Oliver did. And they definitely didn’t have Billy Joel and Huey Lewis performing on the soundtrack (nor did they have rap music playing in the background). It also took place in the present day, in a big city. No princes or castles or magical fairy tales here; it was real and gritty and…now.

Now, all these years later, while Oliver and Company definitely has an ‘80s vibe to it, it’s still pretty cool. The story, while a bit complex, is filled with action and adventure (as well as plenty of laughs). The characters (like Roscoe Lee Brown’s Francis: “Not Frank…not FrankieFrancis.”) are brimming with personality. The New York City scenery is spectacular—even though the animation isn’t quite as crisp as it could be. And the music (especially Billy Joel’s “Why Should I Worry?”) will have you singing along—and even dancing in your seat—in no time.

For children of the ‘80s, this rockin’ animated Disney adventure is well worth another look—and it’s sure to win over a whole new generation of fans.

Blu-ray Review:
It’s been a quarter of a century since the release of Oliver and Company—and Disney is celebrating the event with a 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo release.

Extras on the Blu-ray disc include the shorts, the making-of feature, and others from the DVD release (see more on that below). There are also a number of marketing pieces, including Disney’s Animated Animals, which was used for the film’s theatrical re-release. And, instead of picking and choosing sing-along songs, you can watch the entire film in sing-along mode, complete with close-captioned lyrics for all of the rockin’, rollin’, sing-along-worthy songs.

The Blu-ray add-ons aren’t particularly noteworthy (except, of course, for the hi-def picture), so if you already own the film on DVD, it might not be worth doubling up. If you don’t already own a copy, though, don’t miss this hip Disney classic on Blu-ray.

DVD Review:
The 20th anniversary edition of Oliver and Company may consist of just one disc, but that one disc still contains plenty of short special features. There are sing-alongs, storyboards, film facts, and a pair of classic Disney shorts, starring Mickey’s four-legged pal, Pluto. There’s a short but fascinating making-of feature (circa 1988) that discusses the film’s innovative computer animation. And there’s a new game, called “Oliver’s Big City Challenge,” which tests players’ street smarts through counting, matching, and other tests (some of which are actually quite tricky).

While there may not be a huge bonus features menu (one that requires its very own map), filled with games and interviews and behind-the-scenes features, the extras on the Oliver and Company DVD are short and sweet—and they’re well worth a few extra minutes of your time.

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