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Oliver & Company
20th Anniversary Edition

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 84 Minutes

Starring: Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, Richard Mulligan, Roscoe Lee Brown, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Dom DeLuise, Robert Loggia, Natalie Gregory, Bette Midler

Screenplay by: Jim Cox, Timothy J. Disney, James Mangold
Inspired by: "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens

Directed by: George Scribner

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Sing-Along Songs, Oliver's Big City Challenge, The Making Of Oliver & Company, Disney's Animated Animals, Oliver & Company Scrapbook, Original Theatrical Trailer, Re-release Trailer, TV Spot, Return Of A Classic, Fun Film Facts, Bonus Shorts 

Specs: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (24 Scenes)

Released: February 3rd, 2009


 

 

"Oliver & Company" is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's a rather fine transfer. Save for some blemishes and dirt pieces, as well as a little shimmering, edge halos and a little bit of noise, the rest of the image is pretty sharp. The movie is a little grainy, but it's more on the subtle side, giving the overall look to appear film-like. There is no edge enhancement, detail is pretty stupendous and color saturation is excellent. There is no smearing of colors, and everything comes off as rather bold with just the right tones - the New York City streets, Fagin's hideout and Jenny's apartment. There's a clarity to the image too - and the animation, with all the detail, seems to flow smoothly. The transfer could be slightly better, but as a whole, this still a worthy transfer for an underrated classic. 

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is pretty involving. The surround sounds were a lot more impressive and discrete than I anticipated, as they certainly sound very natural - and by no means forced and artifical - through the channels. A great example is after the first song, and Oliver is roaming the city sidewalks - just all the random noise going on and how it fills the soundstage: crowds walking, the chatter and all sorts of city noises. The more typical surrounds - namely when it comes to some chases and car accidents - are just as engaging, but in a different way. They're loud and have power, but are not overly bombastic. On the musical end, the 5.1 mix also delivers. J.A.C. Redford's score creates a fine ambience through the channels, while the songs are mixed well and have plenty of energy that wraps right around you (especially that showstopper "Why Should I Worry?").
 
Subwoofer use is pretty good, too. It's never overwhelming, but when it comes to some of the action, it pounds appropriately. Dialogue is always clear and easy to hear too (even with a lot of action is transpiring), while dynamic range is nice and tight. This is a very solid mix that really makes the most of the film's wide and varied soundscape.

Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish are included, as well as subtitles in English, French and Spanish.
 




All the supplements from the original DVD release of "Oliver and Company" are included, plus a few new goodies. Unfortunately, the new supplements aren't terribly exciting. There are two Sing-Along Songs - for "Why Should I Worry?" and "Streets Of Gold." That, of course, is a glorified karaoke feature. For the kids, there's Oliver's Big City Challenge. As per usual, it's a simple set-top game.

What's relevant to the film's production doesn't amount to much, and is all the hold over stuff from last time. The Making Of Oliver & Company is a short look at the making of the movie. Director George Scribner is interviewed, plus there's footage of Billy Joel doing Dodger's voice - and how he got the part. But most fascinating is the footage of the classic hand-drawn techniques, and the emerging technological advances at the time that helped the film's production. One of the last lines delivered in this short (5-and-a-half minutes) piece is pretty priceless when it comes to computer graphics - and woefully ironic, given how Disney closed the door on 2-D animation several years ago (and is now due for a comeback thanks to John Lassetter and Ed Camtull).

Disney's Animated Animals is really just an extended promo piece meant to highlight the movie's 1996 re-release (check out Cheech Marin though in the original recording sessions, with his Sid & Nancy t-shirt). The Oliver & Company Scrapbook has a nice array of art, while Fun Film Facts gives a few tidbits about the movie and the Dickens source material. Under Publicity Materials, there's the film's Original Theatrical Trailer, the 1996 Re-release Trailer, a TV Spot and Return Of A Classic - another promo piece from 1996 that plays up the film's supposed legacy.

Rounding the disc out are two Bonus Shorts: "Lend A Paw" and "Puss Cafe."
 

"Oliver & Company" is one of my all-time favorite Disney films, and while I wish there was a bit more heft as far as supplements in this 20th anniversary edition, this is still a decent DVD with a fine presentation of the actual film. Those who have the original Gold Collection edition won't find much new here to warrant an upgrade. But for families and Disney buffs who didn't buy it the first time, then Oliver and the gang should be more than welcome in your living room.