This Don Bluth film tells the story of a dog named Charlie B. Barkin, who ends up getting murdered by his gangster business partner, Carface Carruthers. He ends up in Heaven, but decides to return to life and take revenge upon Carface. After he returns to life, Charlie frees a young orphan girl, Anne-Marie, from captivity at the hands of Carface. At first, Charlie exploits Anne-Marie's ability to speak to animals, but he soon comes to like the little girl and eventually undergoes a change in character.As perspective: the story of All Dogs Go to Heaven, an animated film about cute dogs, revolves around a dog who dies — and for some reason, people find this premise strange.All Dogs landed in theaters on 17 November 1989; on the same day, Disney sent out The Little Mermaid, resulting in one of the worst cases of Dueling Movies in film history Explanation
This was shortly after Don Bluth's An American Tail had won a victory over Disney's The Great Mouse Detective, so Disney were determined to make up for it. As well as the stuff outlined below, The Little Mermaid is less popular today because of Unfortunate Implications, reversing the result. Following this movie, Disney would produce Treasure Planet and Bluth would produce Titan A.E., and the two movies destroyed each other.
. At first, The Little Mermaid was decidedly more remembered and popular, but now, All Dogs Go to Heaven is remembered for standing out among movies of the time and even today. Despite being savaged by critics and being a box office flop, the film ended up selling very well on home video and thanks to those numbers, the film received a sequel (par for the course for every animated film ever during that time) and a TV series adaptation. (As usual, Bluth had no involvment with either of those projects.)Due to their loose following of canon and their Lighter and Softer tone, fans widely consider the sequels and the series as disappointing and inferior to the original film. Only three things stay consistent with the sequels and the series: the amount of time between the second film and the series (two years), David's age (ten years old), and Charlie's age (four, in human years). However, among audiences, the sequels are often more popular for the same reason. Competition with The Little Mermaid stopped this movie from being a commercial success.
When the heavenly whippet looks in Charlie's records, his mother and father are named "Loni" and "Burt", and look like canine versions of Loni Anderson and Burt Reynolds (who were together at the time.) Loni also appears in the film as one of Charlie's "close friends".
All Dogs Are Purebred: According to one song, Charlie is about as mixed as they come, yet he looks like a German Shepherd through and through. Itchy identifies himself as a "wiener dog" which implies he's most likely a Dachshund, and Carface appears to be an English Bulldog. Apart from that, a number of minor dog characters look ambiguous enough that they might be mutts, but it's a bit tricky to tell with the art style.
Amazing Technicolor Puppies: The puppies Flo is looking after are all bright unnatural colors compared to all the other dogs who have more natural looking fur colors.
Anne-Marie can't always fully understand some creatures if they speak in a different 'language', as she stated to Charlie when King Gator's rat-minions, who she says "talk too funny", are carrying them to him in their cages. She probably only recognizes and understands English since most animal characters are interpreted/translated in her view as being English.
As well with the horses at the race track. The dogs don't understand what the horses are saying, but the horses understand when the dogs are insulting them.
It's plausible an animal can learn another language.
Author Allusion: Don Bluth's birthday is also September 13, 1937. The idea that every human year is seven dog years is a myth - Charlie is about 25. Even though he seems older.
Ascended Meme: The Blu-Ray cover dedicates an awful lot of space to the big-lipped alligator.
Big Damn Heroes: King Gator pulls this at the end of the movie, showing up just in time to free Charlie and eat Carface.
Even Evil Has Standards: Even before his Character Development kicks in and Charlie truly grows to care for Anne-Marie, he is utterly indignant when she compares his treatment of her to Carface. Furthermore, many of Carface and Charlie's employees and customers at their casino remark that Charlie treats them better than Carface does.
Family-Friendly Firearms: Another bout of Executive Meddling turned Carface's Tommy Gun into "a RAAAAAAAY gun!" Apparently they thought the real gun was too scary. The official story is this: Midway through production there was an incident where a man attacked a school in LA with an automatic weapon. Many children died and the studio did not want to recall the episode, so the tommy gun was changed to something out of fantasy.
Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Two-legged Charlie, a German Shepherd/Collie mix, contrasts with Itchy Itchiford, who walks on all fours because of his Dachshund anatomy.
Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted - Charlie and several other dogs are shown drinking mugs of beer and clearly getting drunk. Getting Charlie drunk was Carface's first phase of murdering him, as he becomes unable to suspect anything odd.
Hell of a Heaven: Heaven's nice and all, but Charlie isn't happy about staying there right yet as he misses things from his life. Carface obviously hates it as well, and breaks out at the end.
The Hero Dies: Unusually, Charlie dies at the beginning of the movie, only to cheat his way back to life. He dies again at the end while saving Anne-Marie, finally doing a good deed which would actually earn him a place in Heaven. Due to his earlier stunt with the watch, when he dies this time, it is heavily implied he is going to go to Hell. He doesn't.
Second, towards the beginning, after Charlie dies, Itchy has a nightmare that Carface is strangling him, but then hears Charlie's voice telling him, "Itchy, it's okay! It's okay, little buddy! It's me, Charlie!" and wakes up to discover Charlie, alive and well, shaking him awake.
Recognizable By Sound: The Big-Lipped Alligator has Charlie Barkin between his jaws when Charlie howls in terror. The sound is so melodious to the alligator that he set Charlie free. Later in the story, the evil Carface has captured Charlie, and has caused Charlie to howl in pain. Miles away, the Big-Lipped Alligator hears this cry, and comes to Charlie's rescue in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
Series Continuity Error: The scene with a certain alligator violates the rules of the movie: animals can only speak to members of their own species, with Anne-Marie being the only being who can communicate with everyone. Yet the Gator and Charlie can share a cross species musical number. This only adds to the sequence being completely out of place in the film.
A horse also seems to respond to Itchy implying that it is stupid.
Not to say you can't, y'know, learn another language. Or just read body language or tone of voice; it's not like Itchy's trying to be subtle about it.
Shark Pool: Carface uses the piranha-filled version of this trope to dispose of Killer after he fails him twice. That is, until Killer mentions he has a gun.
Shopping Montage: Used to cheer the disillusioned Anne-Marie. We're not supposed to ask what the dogs were going to do with all the money otherwise.
They used it to get Charlie's casino off the ground.
Anne-Marie's outfit and hair are much like Disney's Snow White's.
If you watch the King Gator scene closely, it starts out as an homage to King Kong, including the fact that King Gator was so taken with Charlie; it turns into the trope-naming BLAM once the singing starts.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: How Carface kills off Charlie. By getting him sloppy drunk, blindfolded and lining him up to be hit by a car on a pier. It wouldn't be enough to just lead him into a busy street or drown him, he does both to be one of the few animated villains to actually kill the protagonist early on and would've won had Charlie not scammed his way out of Heaven.
Watching Troy Burn: Itchy returns to the monastery to chew Charlie out for wasting too much time with the girl (and nearly getting him killed), just in time for both of them to look over the junkyard and see their new casino go up in flames.
Wild Take: Killer springing in mid-air, his eyes bulging in and out, and screaming, after he retrieves and puts back on his glasses, when he sees Charlie and Itchy are out of prison clearly enough the second time.
Carface gets two. The first is when Charlie is freed from the anchor. The second is when he sees King Gator swimming towards him.
Almost Kiss: After Charlie and Sasha sing "I Will Always Be With You", they're about to kiss, unfortunately the sun sets and the collar Red gave Charlie wears off (the collar allowed the wearer to be visible until sunset on the next day), and Charlie becomes a ghost again. Doubles as a Moment Killer.
Back from the Dead: Charlie, permanently at the end...or at least he's given 20 years, which is very generous for a large dog. Itchy's given the same offer, but declines; he lived a full life and is content to stay in Heaven.
Cats Are Mean: Red and his minions are all cats. Apparently, cats are not only mean but also The Legions of Hell. Despite appearances, it's implied that Red is not Old Scratch himself, but an Elite Mook. Charlie makes mention of "his boss" yanking his leash, which could be a reference to the dragon in the first film being Satan.
Deadpan Snarker: Charlie's in fine form in this movie, especially after he sends Red back to Hell:
Charlie: "Hello... double chili CAT burger with onions and pickles!"
Also when he tried to retrieve Gabriel's Horn from the police station but couldn't fit it through the bars.
Charlie: "It couldn't have been Gabriel's Flute, or Gabriel's Kazoo, nooooo..."
Deal with the Devil: Carface makes a deal with the Big Bad demon cat Red, a collar allowing him to be physical on Earth in exchange for his soul (though in his defense, he didn't know what Red meant by soul at the time). When Red is finally defeated and sucked into Hell, he decides to cash in on the deal and sends his minions to drag Carface into Hell with him.
Donut Mess with a Cop: when David and Charlie need to distract the cops in the police station, David announces a truck with fresh donuts has arrived. All cops immediately run outside to get some.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Played straight in the end of the movie when Charlie is granted life (at least until he dies again), where he gets together with Sasha and both live with David and his family.
Frothy Mugs of Water: Played straight in the sequel, in which the drinks at the bar is "root beer" (which is purple for some reason).
Gonk: Oh boy, look at most of the humans in this installment. Some of them have huge noses, angular heads, awfully skinny bodies and stuff like that.
The Great Depression: The first film is set in 1939. The sequel seems to be set in more modern times, which would be fine and dandy given the lifespans of angels, but it begins with Itchy having been recently deceased. Must have been a really long timeskip somewhere in there.
Hell of a Heaven: After the events of the first movie the dog Charlie B. Barkin is in Heaven. However, he's bored with the place and wants to return to Earth. He gets his chance when Carface steals Gabriel's Horn and goes back to Earth. Charlie is sent after him on a mission to retrieve the Horn.
Honor Before Reason: After Red's first collar wears off, Charlie is so desperate to fulfill his promise to David that he bargains Gabriel's Horn to Red in exchange for another corporealization collar... only to realize he has been duped when Red reveals himself.
Hostage For Macguffin: Red and Carface kidnap David in order to force Charlie to hand over Gabriel's horn, though unlike most other examples, Red willingly lets David go with no strings attached after the trade is complete.
Karma Houdini: Averted to Karmic Death. Two minutes after Red gets dragged to Hell, Carface shares the same fate. Itchy's words at the end of the scene poked at the saying and title of the movie.
Itchy: Well, what do you know, and I thought all dogs go to heaven.
Lighter and Softer: The sequel certainly had lighter tones to it. However, some people seem to forget that, while the original had a power-hungry crime lord for a villain, the Big Bad in the sequel is a literal demon.
Magic Kiss: Charlie does this to Sasha to give her the ability to talk with David.
Mood Whiplash: The "Easy Street" number starts out bright and cheerful, but towards the end, instantly turns into a heartwrenching Tear Jerker melody.
My God, What Have I Done?: When Red gets hold of Gabriel's Horn due to Charlie's bartering, he kidnaps all the dogs in Heaven, including Annabelle, and imprisons them on Alkatraz Island. Charlie soon realized in horror what his actions have caused and quickly tries to reverse it.
Refusal of the Call: Charlie initially only undertakes the mission to retrieve Gabriel's horn because he's gotten bored with Heaven and wants to go back to Earth; when he arrives, he immediately makes his way to a dog bar to goof off, only to discover that he is a ghost and unable to interact with the physical world.
Restraining Bolt: The collars that Red gives Charlie to make him visible and tangible also serve as a means of controlling him. During the final confrontation, Red magically tightens said collar around Charlie's neck twice to prevent him from blowing Gabriel's horn.
Reunion Kiss: Charlie and Sasha share this at the end of the movie when Charlie is brought back to life once again after saving Heaven from Red.
Satan: Though he doesn't appear this time, this installment has Red, an anthropomorphic red cat who seems to be the lap-demon of Old Scratch.
Setting Update: Seems to take place in the 90's rather than the 30's, calling Itchy's extreme longevity into question.
The Shadow Knows: When first meeting Charlie, Red appears in his dog disguise, but his shadow on the wall is that of his true demon cat form.
Sidekick Song: "Easy Street," despite not being sung by the sidekicks.
Heel-Face Turn: Charlie's character growth could be considered this to some degree. He ultimately invokes this on Carface to turn him good so that Belladonna's plan could be stopped.
Mood Whiplash: Practically invoked in "Clean Up Your Act" in the Christmas Carol. It goes back and forth between visions of Heaven and of Hell. It works because its done by the Ghost Of Christmas Future (played by Charlie) and is showing both possible outcomes to Carface's future.
The Rashomon: "He Barked, She Barked" combines this with a Courtroom Episode where Belladonna accuses Charlie of abusing his miracle dog tag for selfish gain to take a canine widow's steaks while leaving her to presumably die in a sewer pit as it collapsed. Carface's testimony portrays Charlie as a thug more like his pre-Character Development self and himself as a goody two-shoes. Itchy's testimony makes Charlie into an overly heroic figure (complete with a Stetson) and Carface as a Dastardly Whiplash villain. Killer's testimony portrays Carface as his lackey and Charlie as dropping the widow when the "rescue failed". And Charlie's own testimony portrays him as trying to save the widow but dropping her when the miracle dog tag fails to levitate her. The truth is that Belladonna was the widow dog and it was all an obvious scheme to get Charlie's angelic status revoked. And miracle dog tags don't work on hellish beings like her.
Sdrawkcab Name: Subverted with Belladonna and Annabelle. The syllables are reversed, not the letters.
Villain Song: Belladonna, Anabelle's demonic cousin gets one in both appearences. In the first one, it's Take The Easy Way Out, which is an attempt at luring Charlie to her side and it works...for a bit. In the Christmas Special, where she's the Big Bad, she sings I Always Get Emotional At Christmas Time, a song about how much she loves ruining Christmas.