Thoughts on storytelling and the world of animation. Caution! SPOILERS!

Oliver and Company

In searching for topics to discuss, I realized that there were a bunch of films I had missed.  Oliver and Company is one of them, so it stopped by to visit from Netflix.

I was somewhat surprised and a little put off by the ‘modern’ setting.  It’s quite rare in a Disney film.  It SCREAMED 80’s, from the music choices right down to the little girl named Jenny.  It seemed an appropriate choice, though, as my husband and I have been watching old episodes of MacGuyver on Amazon Prime, and the other night threw in The Neverending Story for fun.  So yes, there’s definitely lots of hair and oversized clothes in this movie.

Disney’s settings have always been deliberately vague.  Once in a while you get a sense of ‘where’ it takes place, but never when.  And I think that’s the important bit.  The deliberate lack of historical details forces the story into that uncertain ‘once upon a time’  time.  Which means everybody can relate to it.  Sure, I remember the 80’s, but I still missed a lot because I was pretty young.  Kids today will have very little clue about the time, except what their parents may have told them.  The Princess and the Frog is one of the few princesses who got a definite, pretty close to modern time period, but again, it was so long ago that only a handful of people are still around who can remember it.  Plus, a large portion of the story takes place in the swamp, which might as well have taken place ‘once upon a time.’

Other notes: I had a very hard time remembering that Oliver was a cat.  Hanging around with all of those other dogs, well, it got confusing for me.

I was very amused by Francis who wanted to be an actor.  Or possibly had been an actor.  In any case, he was VERY good at playing . . . dead.

I don’t think I referenced this movie in my post about animating animals.  It’s definitely an example of the first type of anthropomorphism – animals that act like real animals, but we get insight into their thoughts and problems.  They talk, but humans only hear them barking.  They can do things like open windows and operate machinery, but only in a way that their bodies allow them – using their teeth rather than their paws for holding, etc.

The characters were pretty stereotypically 80’s, too, the tough girl, the ‘cool’ guy that shows off by bullying the new/little guy, and the hyper hispanic, which was kind of stereotypically bad until I realized that it was Cheech Marin playing Alonzo, and that this was his schtick.  Still, awkward.  Also awkward is the whole street gang thing, which had a totally different outlook in the 80’s than it does now.

Did YOU spot Pongo from 101 Dalmations  in one of the street scenes?

Probably not something I would watch again, although it was a nice, simple, don’t need to think hard plot.  Just don’t get too distracted or you’ll forget you’re watching it.

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