Oliver & Company

1988, G, 73 min. Directed by George Scribner. Starring Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, Richard Mulligan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Dom Deluise, Taureen Blaque, Robert Loggia, Bette Midler.

REVIEWED By Marie Mahoney, Fri., Nov. 18, 1988

There's a lot right with this updated version of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, in which abandoned kitty Oliver (Lawrence) falls in with a streetwise band of canine pickpockets in Manhattan. Billy Joel (who performs a song early in the movie) makes a very respectable movie debut, lending his voice to the production as the fast-talking leader of the pack, Dodger. Dom DeLuise, his voice drooping with style, plays Fagin, the sadsack human “patron” of the group, with world-weary resignation. The Divine Miss M. is deliciously campy as the voice of a pampered poodle who controls the Park Avenue household that adopts Oliver. Cheech Marin gives the film some local color with his spunky interpretation of a likeable but hyperactive Chihuahua. So what's wrong with Disney's 27th full-length animated feature? Its biggest problem is that it's too short -- a cheap shot, I suppose, given the high cost of animated features. But the point is Disney's always prided itself on sparing no expense for the sake of a good story, and this one's pretty skimpy: The characters, though colorful, are not fleshed out, and the doggy pickpockets' milieu is given short shrift in favor of the show-off computer animation techniques that surround the villain Sykes (Loggia) and his digs. Worse, the movie suffers from a subtle but crucial failure to engage. The evil here, personified by Sykes, is pedestrian; He's too ugly and too mean to be really frightening. Danger's never clear and present, but rather a convention. Simply put, Oliver & Company didn't work for me not because I'm many years past my sixth birthday but because it never scared me into forgetting that fact. ///Excerpted from Marie Mahoney's Austin Chronicle review than ran when the movie was originally released.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Joey Lawrence Films
My Brother's Keeper
Pray the PTSD away!

March 19, 2021

Urban Legends: Final Cut
Recently, in the Chronicle letters column, it was suggested that I was perhaps not the world's biggest fan of the horror film genre, based on ...

Marc Savlov, Sept. 22, 2000

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Oliver & Company, George Scribner, Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, Richard Mulligan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Dom Deluise, Taureen Blaque, Robert Loggia, Bette Midler

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle