The Film (2/5)
Disney Animation by the mid to late 80's had reached a rather low period in it's history. The period from the late 60's onward had been a decidedly mixed period for the former animation giant with a number of classics and near classics mixed in with some films that were just really lacking that special Disney touch. It is well documented that Disney recovered for a well documented Renaissance period starting with 1989's The Little Mermaid, but the film they released the year before, Oliver and Company, was as far as the studio would get from any supposed comeback as they would get.
While the 80's offered quite a number of very decent films from the studio Oliver and Company may have been one of the most generic offerings the studio had to offer during that decade. The film is loosely based on Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist, and involves a kitten named Oliver, who finds himself getting involved with a group of thieving dogs. His failed attempt at stealing a radio, gets him taken in by Jenny, a rich young girl. However, his problems do not end there, and he ends up getting stuck between life a normal life with Jenny, and helping the dogs with a problematic loan shark named Sykes.
There are a number of issues with Oliver and Company from the narrative which tends to be a bunch of loosely linked set pieces that rarely come together to create a cohesive hole. The music in the film is some of the worst musical entries in Disney Animation's filmography. The music like the film itself is quite generic like it was written for a demographic, and not for a film. The overall look of the film while decent enough tends to be a derivative style mixing the 80's work of Don Bluth (All Dogs Go to Heaven, An American Tail), with a more Disney-fied version of Ralph Bakshi's style, and a continuation of the style Disney had been using during the mid to late 80's period such as had been seen previously in films like The Great Mouse Detective.
Allegedly, the film was supposed to be a spinoff of the Rescuers (which would see a sequel The Rescuers Down Under in 1990). The character of Jenny in Oliver and Company was apparently supposed to be Penny from the Rescuers, but that idea was scrapped in the earliest stages. I will say it is hard to find much to recommend in Oliver and Company. The film feels more like a the last gasp from a once great studio, than a studio on the verge of a second round of greatness as we were very close to seeing.
Disney has presented Oliver and Company in a serviceable, but largely unremarkable 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. This is my first viewing of Oliver and Company, so I do not have a comparison point, however colors are bright, black are solid and deep, and detail is quite nice for the most part. That being said for a film of this vintage there is a lack of film grain present, and often the film has more of a video-esque sheen to it then it should.
Disney has presented Oliver and Company in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track in track. The track is serviceable, with dialogue coming through nice and clear, as does the music and effects. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Disney hasn't provided much in the way of extras for their release of Oliver and Company. The disc has a 6 minute making of that is more of an EPK sort of thing than an actual in depth making of. We also get 15 minutes of classic animated shorts from the 1940's, a 2 minute archival featurette called Disney's Animated Animals and 6 minutes of trailers, and TV spots for the film. They have also included a sing-along mode for the film.
Far from a Classic Disney feature film, Oliver and Company would be there final feature film effort before their late 80's comeback film The Little Mermaid. The A/V on the release is not that great, but is more than likely an improvement on what came before, and the extras are slim. Recommended for Disney Completist, every one else can give it a pass.