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Toon Talk: Oliver & Company Special Edition DVD
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Oliver and Company Scrapbook:
DVD Gallery displaying Concept Art (visual development for NYC, Jenny’s house), Story Development (storyboard art for the ‘Oliver versus the dobies’ scene), Character Development (early sketches and model sheets for the cast, plus some characters not used in the final film), Behind the Scenes (production photos, with captions this time, of the various members of the creative team), Voice Talent (only Dom DeLuise and Cheech Marin apparently had photographers on hand), Publicity (preliminary poster concepts that make Oliver look like … horrors! … a Don Bluth film) and Merchandise (one gets the impression they only released a soundtrack album and two storybooks from the looks of it here).

Again, this section leaves more to be desired. For example, concept art for a (by me at least) previously unheard of abandoned sequence referred to as a ‘Jungle song fantasy’ is displayed, with no further explanation. Ditto for a panda (!) character in the early character sketches. And what’s with storyboard art for only one scene?

Sing Along Songs:
These apparently will be appearing on all future DVD releases, but one wishes they would clean up the prints before doing so. Included here are “Why Should I Worry?” and “Streets of Gold”, which is the full song not heard in the film, with extra scenes added.

Publicity Materials:
Features a 1989 TV spot, the original 1988 theatrical trailer (which includes the ‘Sixty Years of Mickey’ header), the 1996 re-release trailer, and the presumptuously titled Return of a Classic two minute preview, also used to tout the re-release.

Fun Film Facts:
This all-text feature reads like the script to the unproduced ‘making of’ featurette that should have been included on this disc. Mentions such tidbits as how the art directors took reference photographs of New York City … from a dog’s eye view of 18 inches off the ground; how Bob Fosse was the inspiration for the dog’s ‘choreography’; and how the dogs were always shown on all fours, so as to not compromise their canine characters.

Animated Shorts:
Two vintage shorts that carry on the ‘cats and dogs’ theme of the main feature are included: the 1941 Academy Award-winning Lend a Paw (featuring Pluto’s conflicting consciences arguing over the presence of a stray kitten) and 1950’s Puss-Café (a couple of doofy alley-cats tread on Pluto’s home turf).

Toon Talk Rating: C+

•  •  •

Toon Talk Trivia:

  • Roscoe Lee Brown also appeared in The World’s Greatest Athlete and Muppet Treasure Island.
  • Dom DeLuise voiced Bacchus in the Hercules animated series.
  • Joey Lawrence went on to star in the Touchstone television programs Adventures in Babysitting, Blossom and Brotherly Love, where he co-starred with his real-life brothers Matthew and Andrew. They have also appeared together in several Disney Channel original movies, such as Brothers of the Frontier and Horse Sense.
  • Both Joey Lawrence and Sheryl Lee Ralph have guest-voiced on Recess.
  • Robert Loggia starred as the title character in the early Disney television program The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca.
  • Cheech Marin also voiced the hyena Banzai in The Lion King and the spider Chili in the It’s Tough To Be a Bug attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks. He also co-starred in Touchstone’s The Golden Palace sitcom and Dimension’s Spy Kids and its upcoming sequel, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams.
  • Bette Midler’s career was revived with Touchstone’s Down and Out in Beverly Hills, followed by Ruthless People, Outrageous Fortune, Big Business, Beaches, Stella, Scenes from a Mall and Disney's Hocus Pocus. She also sang the pop version of “God Help the Outcasts” for The Hunchback of Notre Dame soundtrack, introduced the “Steadfast Tin Soldier” segment in Fantasia 2000, and starred in the Disney-MGM Studios attraction film, The Lottery.
  • The late Richard Mulligan won an Emmy for his role in Touchstone Television’s Empty Nest.
  • Director George Scribner also directed the 1990 Mickey Mouse featurette The Prince and the Pauper.
  • “Why Should I Worry?”, written by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight, was nominated for a Best Song Golden Globe.
  • “Once Upon a Time in New York City” lyricist Howard Ashman would go on to write the timeless songs for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, garnering six Oscar nominations and two Oscars for these modern masterpieces.
  • “Perfect Isn’t Easy” lyricist Jack Feldman returned for similar duties on Newsies and A Goofy Movie.
  • In 1997, The Wonderful World of Disney presented a more traditional take on the Dickens classic. This Oliver Twist starred Richard Dreyfuss as Fagin and Elijah Wood as the Artful Dodger.

Final Word:
“As remarkable as they are, don’t look for computers to replace human animators at Disney. Because here, electronic trickery is just one of many artistic tools kept strictly in the hands of living, breathing, imagining people.”

-- Prescient words, emoted breathlessly by the narrator, in The Making of “Oliver and Company”.

•  •  •

Coming Soon in Toon Talk:

  • Oscar winners Cuba Gooding Jr. and James Coburn go to the dogs with the Disney DVD release of the box office hit Snow Dogs.
  • Return to deep in the Hundred Acre Wood with the Collector’s Edition DVD of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, now available.
  • Also available, Disney DVD presents the new “Vault Disney” collection with four certified live action classics: Swiss Family Robinson, Old Yeller, Pollyanna and the original The Parent Trap.

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-- Kirby C. Holt

Kirby, a former Walt Disney World Resort Cast Member (and Trivia Champ), is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ...

Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.

The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted May 14, 2002

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