Here, Oliver (Joey Lawrence) is a small orange kitten who finds himself all alone on the streets. In his attempts to stay alive and fed, he befriends a scruffy looking terrier named Dodger (Billy Joel). When he follows Dodger back to his home, he finds the dog is part of a small pack who stick together to help keep their master safe. And boy does he need it! Fagin (Dom DeLuise) lives on a houseboat and owes a lot of money to a local loan shark, Sykes (Robert Loggia).
The pack is comprised of Dodger, a Chihuahua named Tito (Cheech Marin), a Great Dane called Einstein (Richard Mulligan), a British Bulldog named Francis (Roscoe Lee Browne), Rita (Sheryl Lee Ralph), a Sakuki, and now Oliver. Every day, the gang goes out and finds new ways to pick pockets and steal the items they need to survive (and help Fagin pay off his debt). As Oliver learns his new trade, he also learns to listen to the natural music of New York City and get a feel for its rhythm and vibe.
In one such attempt to get some cash, Oliver ends up trapped in a limo where he is discovered and immediately loved by a young girl named Jenny (Natalie Gregory). It seems Jenny's parents are currently on the other side of the world, and she is being looked after by her butler, Louie (Frank Welker). The two quickly grow attached to the young kitten, but the family show dog, Georgette (Bette Midler) is none-too-pleased.
Realizing what's happened (well, thinking Oliver has been kidnapped), the dogs decide to storm the house and take back their friend. This, of course, leads to some very comedic moments, and they eventually get Oliver back, but does he really want to go? In the classic Disney manner, all will, of course, end well. Oliver will end up in Jenny's arms, Fagin will be cleared of his debt and become a good friend of the family and Tito might have a new love interest. Also in tune with the classic Disney cartoons is the musical aspect. Several great songs are present here. Everything from Billy Joel's "Why Should I Worry?" to Bette Midler singing "Perfect Isn't Easy" are songs that I remember loving 20 years ago when I saw this film in theaters.
Like most of Disney's anniversary releases, Oliver and Company has plenty of special features. Not only is there the "Making of" featurette that was released before the film went to theaters, but there is also a documentary about the various animated animals Disney has created in the past. Actually, this brief bit focuses on Oliver and Company's re-release to theaters back in 1996.
I've always had fond memories of Oliver and Company (long before I ever read, or knew of, "Oliver Twist"), and it was a great experience to re-watch this film from my childhood again. This is definitely a movie for collectors. While it doesn't fit in with the standard "classics" as far as Disney is concerned (Snow White, Cinderella, etc.), it very much goes in the grouping next to more modern classics like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. Disney fans simply won't want to miss seeing this movie again, and the special features on it should keep the new generation entertained enough to warrant the purchase of a simple rental.