Disney Marathon: ‘Oliver & Company’

I didn’t see this movie when it came out. I’m not sure I’ve seen it yet. I think we watched it before Wreck-It Ralph and I forgot to write about it. I’m not yet sure I remember enough of it to write a review. Let’s find out.

For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 10 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 7 year old princess wannabe) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: Oliver & Company

Released: 1988

Director: George Scribner

Cast: Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Natalie Gregory, Cheech Marin, Bette Midler

Plot: Oliver is an orphaned kitten on the mean streets of 1980s New York. He falls in with a group of miscreants and learns about living day to day.

Review: So this movie is forgettable. I think part of the problem is the lack of clear protaganist. We open with Oliver, and mostly follows him through the course of the movie, but he rarely instigates or has any control over what happens around him. He’s just there. The movie is very heavily padded with the little actual story beneath it all. We have Oliver learning the way of the streets with Billy Joel Dog, we have Fagan living in some kind of domestic scenario with the dogs, the Bette Midler Dog celebrity, the parentless kid…and little of it goes anywhere.

Ok, let’s pull the camera back a moment. Although Oliver & Company is heavily leaning into Charles Dicksons’ ‘Oliver’, but that’s not what it’s about. This movie is about New York. It was designed capture the look and spirit of the world’s biggest city, and in hindsight locked itself in to a particular era. This is a dirty, dangerous New York of yesteryear, where only the rich and powerful thrive. It has wound up being more of times capsule that intended, highlighted in part by the casting of Billy Joel as the ‘cool guy’ character.

It’s difficult to the pin down what part of the story we’re supposed feel a connection to. Initially they set-up Oliver as a very tragic figure, and it looks like it’ll be a buddy story. Then Oliver takes a back seat to the character of Fagan, there’s an adoption mix-up, a kidnapping, a subway chase…it’s a mess of narrative. None of the characters are particularly likeable. Billy Joel’s signature characteristic is that he harasses women and that makes him charming somehow. Fagan tries to exploit a child. You don’t care much for what happens to them.

Um. I don’t remember anything much about the movie. The Bette Midler dog was uncomfortable. What’s weird is that I remember the TV ad for a kid and being really intrigued, but never got around to watching it until now. It’s not especially problematic except that it’s got little worth committing to memory. It managed to slide under the radar upon release, as it was competing with The Land Before Time and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Maybe that was for the best.

Best Song: ‘Why Should I Worry’, performed by Billy Joel, is something of an earworm.

Coolest Easter Egg: There’s a couple of Lady and the Tramp cameos in the mix, such as Jock, Trusty and Peg, plus Pongo from 101 Dalmatians and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty for some reason.

Weirdest Trivia: This was written to be a sequel to The Rescuers.

Rating: FIVE out of TEN



The movie lands low down the list. I expect it to wind up about half way by the end of all this.

You can click on those titles below if you want to see what we said about those films.

  1. Robin Hood
  2. Aladdin
  3. Wreck-It Ralph
  4. Big Hero 6
  5. Tangled
  6. The Sword in the Stone
  7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  8. Mulan
  9. Emperor’s New Groove
  10. Fantasia
  11. The Three Caballeros
  12. The Princess and the Frog
  13. Oliver & Company
  14. The Aristocats
  15. A Goofy Movie
  16. Treasure Planet
  17. Chicken Little


Well, yeah. Halfway. Nothing especially good or bad.

  1. Emperor’s New Groove
  2. The Three Caballeros
  3. Mulan
  4. Wreck-It Ralph
  5. A Goofy Movie
  6. Tangled
  7. The Princess and the Frog
  8. Robin Hood
  9. Oliver & Company
  10. The Aristocats
  11. The Sword in the Stone
  12. Aladdin
  13. Treasure Planet
  14. Big Hero 6
  15. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  16. Chicken Little
  17. Fantasia



  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Aladdin
  3. Emperor’s New Groove
  4. Treasure Planet
  5. The Three Caballeros
  6. Wreck-It Ralph
  7. Mulan
  8. The Princess and the Frog
  9. Robin Hood
  10. The Sword in the Stone
  11. Oliver & Company
  12. Tangled
  13. A Goofy Movie
  14. The Aristocats
  15. Fantasia
  16. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  17. Chicken Little