Reviews: All Dogs Go To Heaven

Heaven or Hell? Priest or prisoner? Acolyte or slave?

Me and this movie, we have a bit of a strange history. I was aware of its existence from an early age, and seeing as how The Land Before Time and An American Tail were such staples of my childhood, you'd think I'd be more interested in another Don Bluth film. But, ehhhh, I kinda got "this looks like some sickly schmaltzy crap" vibes. And it didn't really have the pop-cultural staying power of those other two films so it vanished from the video stores rather quickly, never to return. And when chance finally came... those vibes of mine were kinda right. But also...


Don Bluth, you a fucked up man! This movie would, and probably has, put the fear of both Hell (Brimstone and devil cat creatures tormenting you!) and Heaven (No surprises! The spice of goddamn life, man!) into a young 'un. Not to mention drinking, gambling, smoking, drunkenly singing songs on a rickety pier, and, lest we forget, sexually confusing, flamboyant big-lipped gator creatures singing perhaps the worst Ear Worm to ever worm its way into your head when you're sick with fever and a hangover. In other words... fuck you, Don Bluth! Fuck you up the nose with a rotten hose!

Even so, I kinda fucking love this movie. I can't explain. In fact, this is what Pete Townshend didn't know he was thinking about when he wrote The Who's power pop classic, err, "I Can't Explain". I can just picture him, drunkenly convulsing in his cinema chair some long-remembered night in 1989 going "Bugger and blimey, Don Bluth totally gets it!" Ain't no movie these days got the balls to so brazenly balance between soul-crushing darkness and schmaltz that would bring forth tears from a stone. And that's worth a lot.

"You're a bad dog."

FUCK YOU DON BLUTH I JUST PASSED OUT FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES OUT OF PURE CRYING OVERDOSE AND ONLY JUST WOKE UP! ...Seriously though, that's a real problem. Doctor says it's probably narcolepsy, but fuck that guy. I told him to forward my bill to Don Motherfucking Bluth and he gave me a knowing glance.

It premiered around the same time as The Little Mermaid and while I love that movie as well, I honestly wouldn't be able to choose between the two given the chance. What kind of movie has power like that? I love you, Don Bluth, but I also hate you.

For kids, apparently

I've watched this movie dozens of times throughout my life and have always enjoyed it. But my understanding of it has changed significantly over time. For instance, it wasn't until watching it last year that I finally realized the story was about mafioso dogs who murder one another for power whilst exploiting children for gambling profits. In a kid's movie? Just how is a kid supposed to understand all this?

Well the fact is they don't. They like the heroes because they are cute and funny, they sympathize with the girl because she is sad, they hate the villain because he is ugly and frightening. That is all a six year old needs to enjoy this kind of film. They won't notice all those explicit themes an adult can and would worry about, so there is no problem exposing kids to this sort of content. It just means that adults can enjoy a cross between The Cannonball Run and The Godfather whilst kids enjoy the colours and sounds. Whenever a critic whines about a kid's film containing themes too mature or complex for children, they are perfectly right. But that changes jack shit. All Dogs Go To Heaven is a great movie that can be enjoyed by all generations. Watch it again every few years and it'll have a different meaning each time. That is more that can be said for the likes of Madagascar, which will always be about prat falls and kooky expressions, whatever your age.

The Two Movies

It took me awhile, but I finally took the time to look at the work of Don Bluth. I picked up his allegedly last good movie alongside it's allegedly terrible sequel as a combo pack, so I'll review them together.

They say this movie was the last good movie Bluth made in awhile. Maybe it's Hype Backlash talking, but I think it shows. It is an excellent movie, no argument there, but it seems too ready to break it's established rules for the sake of a quick joke. The trope naming Big Lipped Alligator Moment for one, and the scene were a racehorse attacks Itchy for insulting him. There's also the Family Friendly Firearms scene. I know Executive Meddling played a part in it, but according to this wiki Bluth was Doing It For The Art, so it seems like a bit of a phone in. Still, complaints aside it's a very well put together movie and I would certainly recommend it, though I suggest that you don't read everyone's prasies of it beforehand.

The sequel seemed okay at first, but then I realized it's pretty much the same movie: Charlie goes back to Earth for selfish reasons and meets a child on the streets that can (eventually) understand him who he uses for what are ultimately selfish reasons, only this times there's a romance subplot and a bigger consequence when he screws up. I would call Aesop Amnesia, but Charlie seems to be less of a jerkass than in the first, so there's that. The songs are forgettable other than the excellent Villain Song by Red, and the animation is poorer. It's not as bad as this wiki made it sound, but it's still a pretty weak effort.