Inspired by Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, which has been adapted many times for the screen. In this version, Oliver is a cat and Fagin's gang is made up of dogs (one of which is Dodger), and Sykes is a loan shark. After Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1942), One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and The Rescuers (1977), this is Disney's fifth animated feature to take place in the present day of its release, with New York City as the film's setting.
The film is set in 1980s New York City. An orphaned kitten named Oliver is left alone after his fellow orphaned kittens are adopted by passers by and he wanders the streets by himself. The next day, he is tricked into assisting a laid-back dog named Dodger into stealing food from a hot dog vendor. Dodger then flees the scene without sharing his bounty with Oliver. Dodger eventually arrives at the barge of his owner, a pickpocket named Fagin, along with his meal, to give to his friends: Tito the Chihuahua, Einstein the Great Dane, Rita the Saluki and Francis the Bulldog. Oliver sneaks into their home, located below the city's docks, and is discovered by the dogs. After a moment of confusion, Oliver is then received with a warm welcome. Fagin, owner of the dogs, comes in and explains that he is running out of time to repay the money he borrowed from Sykes, a ruthless shipyard agent and loan shark. Sykes' Dobermans Roscoe and DeSoto attack Oliver but the cat is defended by Fagin's dogs. Sykes tells Fagin the money must be paid in three days, or else.
Fagin and his pets, now including Oliver, hit the streets to sell some shoddy goods and perhaps steal money. Oliver and Tito attempt to break down a limousine but the plan backfires when Oliver accidentally slipping on the ignition key and falling over the dashboard and Tito being electrocuted by the cars' wires, causing the car's electrical system to go haywire, and Oliver is caught and taken home by the limousine's passenger Jenny Foxworth and her butler Winston. Jenny's parents, being rich, are away traveling the world and she adopts Oliver out of loneliness. Georgette, the family's pompous and pampered poodle is enraged and jealous by Oliver's presence and wants him removed. Dodger and the others manage to locate Oliver, and with help from Georgette they remove him from the house. Oliver later explains that he was treated kindly and did not want to leave, much to the shock of Dodger who felt that Oliver was ungrateful, but allows him the opportunity to leave. However, Fagin arrives, having surrendered to his fate, happened to have held Oliver who was about to leave. Fagin then discovers Oliver has been taken care of by a "very rich" owner from Fifth Avenue, and attempts to ransom Oliver so he would finally pay back Sykes, whom he later informs of his plan. Meanwhile, Jenny discovers Fagin's ransom note, and attempts to meet Fagin's demands, escorted by Georgette. Jenny then meets with Fagin, initially oblivious that he had ransomed Oliver. Fagin, bothered by his conscience after realizing how downhearted Jenny was, changes his mind about the ransom and gives her Oliver back freely. Suddenly, Sykes comes out of the shadows and kidnaps Jenny, intending to ransom her.
Dodger rallies the dogs and Oliver to rescue Jenny from Sykes, but the animals are confronted by Sykes and his Doberman dogs after they free her. Fagin then arrives at the scene and saves the group with his scooter and a chase follows through New York, and right into the subway tunnels. Sykes, driving like a maniac, pursues Fagin through the subway. Jenny accidentally ends up on Sykes' hood, and Oliver and Dodger attempt a rescue. Roscoe and DeSoto fall off the car in a struggle and die when they fall onto the train tracks. In an almost suicidal move, Tito takes control of Fagin's scooter as Fagin attempts to retrieve Jenny, and Tito drives the scooter up the side of a bridge as Sykes' car drives straight into the path of an oncoming train, obliterating Sykes and sending him and his car toppling into the Hudson River. Dodger and Oliver managed to survive the train collision and are reunited with Jenny and the others. Later, Jenny celebrates her birthday with the animals, Fagin and Winston. Oliver opts to stay with Jenny but he promises to remain in contact with Dodger and the gang.
English voice castEdit
- Joey Lawrence as Oliver
- Billy Joel as Dodger
- Cheech Marin as Ignacio Alonzo Julio Federico de Tito
- Richard Mulligan as Einstein
- Roscoe Lee Browne as Francis
- Sheryl Lee Ralph (Ruth Pointer, singing) as Rita
- Dom DeLuise as Fagin
- Tauren Blacque and Carl Weintraub as Roscoe and DeSoto (respectively)
- Robert Loggia as Sykes
- Natalie Gregory (Myhanh Tran, singing) as Jennifer "Jenny" Foxworth
- William Glover as Winston
- Bette Midler as Georgette
- "Once Upon a Time in New York City" - Narrator
- "Why Should I Worry?" - Dodger, and Chorus
- "Streets of Gold" - Rita, Dodger, and Chorus
- "Perfect Isn't Easy" - Georgette
- "Good Company" - Jenny
- "Why Should I Worry?" (Reprise) - Company
Oliver & Company theatrical release historyEdit
- November 18, 1988 (original release)
- March 29, 1996 (re-release)
- Despite its financial success at the box office, Oliver & Company does not come out on home video until after its re-release in 1996, when it was part of their Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection line. In 2002, the film was re-issued on VHS and released on DVD for the first time, and in 2009, the film was re-released on DVD to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary.
- In anticipation of the movie's upcoming spin-off series of approx. 8 entirely-animated theatrical short films, as well as an upcoming entirely-animated TV series adaptation based on the movie itself, "Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment" has plans to re-issue the movie itself directly to DVD & Blu-ray Disc and Movie Download, when being part of the Walt Disney Special Editions line of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and "Digital Download" releases around August 7, 2018.
- The working title of this film during production was Oliver and the Dodger.
- To watch a behind-the-scenes Q&A with Oliver & Company Director George Scribner, go to Q&A: George Scribner