Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Oliver & Company

Go To

"Why should I worry?
Why should I care?
Yeah, I may not have a dime, but
I got street savoir-faire."

Disney Animated Canon entry number 27 released in 1988, about talking animals, very loosely based on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. The setting is contemporary New York City, and Oliver is an unwanted ginger kitten who isn't even called Oliver yet. Fagin's gang is now made up of dogs, including a mongrel named Dodger (as in the Artful Dodger). Fagin himself is still human, and he's a good guy this time; in fact, he's just some poor schmoe trying to pay off Loan Shark Bill Sykes (based on Bill Sikes), the Big Bad; here a sinister gangster/Mafia type. The part of Mr. Brownlow is taken by Jenny, a 7-year-old girl who adopts Oliver.

The film is somewhat notable for some early use of CGI (mostly to create New York's traffic), and for being the last film of Disney's pre-Renaissance era — it came out just one year before The Little Mermaid. It staffed many new artists who would rise to popularity with Disney's future releases. It was one of the first projects that writer/director James Mangold (Walk the Line) worked on before going on to earn an Academy Award nomination for the film Logan. It's also important to note that the moderate success of this film brought back Disney's will to animate musicals, so if it wasn’t for "Why Should I Worry", we likely today wouldn’t have songs like "Under The Sea", "Beauty and the Beast", "A Whole New World", "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?", and so on, and so forth, etc., ad nauseum.

Oliver & Company contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: New York City's traffic, Sykes's car, Fagin's cart, Georgette's stairs, etc. are CGI. The final chase sequence makes really heavy use of this as well.
  • Abandoned Pet in a Box: The film opens with a box full of kittens being sold on a Manhattan sidewalk. All the kittens are sold except for one — our hero, Oliver — who is callously left in the box in the rain.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Gender reversed — Tito falls head-over-heels for Georgette at first sight, while she's disgusted and wants nothing to do with him until they have to work together (along with the rest of the gang) to rescue Jenny, during which she winds up falling for him. At the end though, when he realizes she wants to change him, he decides she's not worth it and flees.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Age Lift: The animal characters' ages don't quite match their human versions from the original story. While Oliver is still a child, Dodger has been aged up into an adult, as have the rest of Fagin's gang. Jenny, the loose equivalent of Mr. Brownlow, is also a little girl instead of a middle-aged man.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has "Oliver" by Chami Satonaka as its theme song.
  • Angry Collar Grab: Sykes meets with a destitute, desperate Fagin to exact a loan payment, and seizes Fagin by his collar to issue an ultimatum: repay every cent in three days, or "get hurt." The collar grab further acted to position Fagin's neck in the path of Sykes's car window, where it began squeezing his throat.
  • Animal Talk: The animals can talk amongst themselves.
  • Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation: A loose one of Oliver Twist. Compare with Saban's Adventures of Oliver Twist.
  • Anti-Hero: Fagin's dogs are... morally questionable, to say the very least. Trying to steal cars for their owner, using a Wounded Gazelle Gambit to achieve such theft, etc. And then there is Dodger, who tricks Oliver into helping him steal human food (which Dodger keeps for himself), subjects Oliver to a series of increasingly humiliating pranks as he tries to get it back, then when Oliver does show up at Fagin's place, the rest of the dogs don't believe Oliver's story and are threatening to kill him. Nevertheless, they ultimately do become Oliver's friends and they help save Jenny, proving their hearts are in the right place.
  • Anti-Villain: Fagin. He does thievery and has the dogs do his dirty work, but he does care for them. Plus he's justified in his paranoia of his dealings with Sykes and the welfare of the dogs if he gets "sleepin' with the fishes".
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: It's implied Georgette thinks Dodger's going to do to her when he breaks into her room, and she is quite offended when he assures her he isn't.
    Dodger: Whoa, whoa, take it easy, it's not you I'm after!
    Georgette: It's not? It's not? Well, WHY not?! What's the problem, Spot? Not good enough for you?
  • The Artful Dodger: Dodger, naturally, being based on the Trope Namer himself.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care:
    • Providing the trope's page image, Jenny feeds ice cream to Oliver. A few licks from an ice cream cone or a little bit of milk is not going to affect a cat that much, but it's still not a good idea given the sugar and other things ice cream is loaded up with, especially since Oliver is a kitten and his digestive system is not as resilient as an adult cat's (as any cat owner or animal shelter worker who's worked with kittens for long enough can tell you).
    • Jenny also gives Cocoa Krispies to Oliver. Chocolate is even more toxic to cats overall, not just kittens but also full-grown cats.
    • When Fagin's dogs go to Jenny's house to find Oliver, Einstein can be seen eating a chocolate meant for Georgette, this despite the fact that chocolate is poisonous to dogs as well.
  • Audible Gleam: Oliver's license, on his new collar.
  • Ax-Crazy: Sykes. Not so much for wielding an axe to stop the gang from escaping his warehouse, but for the fact that he drives his car onto the subway tracks without regard for oncoming trains as he pursues the gang to kidnap Jenny once more.
  • Badass Adorable: Each dog that's a major character probably qualifies as badass, with varying levels of "adorable". Oliver, on the other hand, is Badass Adorable with the emphasis on "adorable." The "badass" part comes from his occasional awesome moments.
    Fagin: That reminds me, I saw DeSoto's nose; who did that? [Dodger presents Oliver to Fagin] You... you? [Laughs]'' That took a lot of guts! We have never had a cat in the gang before... we can use all the help we can get.
  • Badass Fingersnap: You really don't want to be in the same room with Sykes when he snaps his fingers, because chances are Roscoe and DeSoto are there and all too willing to tear you to shreds at their master's command.
  • Beauty Is Best: Georgette the show poodle is totally absorbed in her appearance, justified in that she can rightfully boast being "six-time Grand National Champion!" As part of the rescue party aiming to recover Jenny from the villain's clutches, she's mostly The Load except when she incapaciates the Dobermans.
  • Big Applesauce
  • Big Bad: Bill Sykes. His aggressive actions towards Fagin and threatening on Jenny drive the plot of the film.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Einstein.
  • Big Rotten Apple: Somewhat of a mixed example, as while things are going well for Jenny, Oliver and Fagin are both struggling to survive in NYC, with Oliver getting abandoned and chased by vicious dogs and Fagin having to live on a rundown boat on the docks while being forced to work Sykes just to make ends meet. The opening song "Once Upon a Time in New York City" says it all really.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with an elevated shot of Lower Manhattan.
  • Bound and Gagged: Sykes makes sure Jenny can't escape by tying her wrists behind a chair and having his dogs surround her.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: While waiting for Oliver's owner to arrive with the ransom he needs to pay Sykes, Fagin stumbles on Jenny and finds out that she is Oliver's owner. When she angrily asks what kind of person would kidnap a kitten, Fagin starts trying to make her understand his actions in third-person, saying that whoever did this may have been a desperate man too poor to have any other options.
  • Call-Back:
    • The reprise of "Why Should I Worry?" has Dodger jumping onto the roof of a yellow taxi like he did earlier in the movie when it was just him singing the song. The reprise also has a Call-Back to Oliver hitching a ride on the outside of a truck, but this time with Dodger being the one who hitches a ride on the outside of a truck.
    • During their first meeting, Fagin accidentally breaks the driver's side mirror off of Sykes' car. Later, when Fagin is in Sykes' office, he proceeds to do the same thing to a model of the same car.
  • The Cameo:
  • Canine Confusion: When Fagin's dogs go to Jenny's house to look for Oliver, Einstein eats a piece of chocolate that was supposed to be given to Georgette the poodle. Chocolate kills dogs in real life.
  • Canines Primary, Felines Secondary: Zig-zagged. On one hand, Oliver is the only cat in a movie with multiple dog characters. On the other hand, he's also the main character.
  • Cars Without Tires Are Trains: This happens to Sykes' limousine in the climax as he chases Fagin's scooter into the subway. Roscoe and DeSoto fall off the car in the struggle and land on the subway's third rail, electrocuting them. Sykes' car eventually drives straight into the path of an oncoming train, killing him and throwing him and his car into the East River.
  • A Cat in a Gang of Dogs: Oliver is the only cat of the group, all the rest are dogs. Unusually for this trope, though, he's also the title character and the main protagonist.
  • Cat Stereotype: Oliver is orange, and is one of the nicest characters in the movie.
  • Catchphrase: Dodger: "Absotively Posolutely".
  • Cement Shoes: Discussed when Fagin peeks on Sykes instructing someone on the phone on how to do the cement shoes killing method.
  • Chase Scene: The climax.
  • Cool Car: Sykes owns a black Lincoln Continental with custom vanity plates. He even has a miniature model of it in his office.
  • Cool Shades: Dodger during the "Why Should I Worry?" number.
  • Cowardly Lion: Fagin spends most of the movie scared out of his mind, as he desperately tries to get out from under a sadistic loan shark. However, when Jenny is kidnapped by Sikes, he steps up to help his dogs rescue her.
  • Crash in Through the Ceiling: When Oliver pursues the crafty Dodger to Fagin's derelict boat. Oliver spies on Dodger and his cohorts through a hole in the roof. Suddenly, Oliver's patch of roof buckles, dropping this kitten and some canvas into the middle of the cabin, startling the five dogs.
  • Creator Cameo: The man in the pawn shop that Fagin tries to bribe a pocket watch to, only to have said watch break is a caricature of Disney executive Peter Schneider.
  • Cute Kitten: Oliver, natch.
  • Dark Reprise: During the subway chase scene, as Oliver dives into Sykes' car to save Jenny, an instrumental version of the passage "Don't be scared, they're getting your place prepared, where you wanna be" from "Once Upon a Time in New York City" can be heard.
  • Darker and Edgier: Well, for 1980s animation, anyway. One critic noted that Oliver and Company was "the grimiest Disney release ever."note  All things considered, it is noteworthy that, while New York City had been portrayed in animated films many times prior to 1988, it had always been depicted as either glamorous or only "nostalgically" gritty, as in An American Tail. Considering the urban setting, only Dodger and Oliver being the sympathetic animals drawn to be remotely "cute", and Fagin's remarkable lack of attractiveness for a sympathetic human character, one may wonder which Oliver Twist adaptation — this or the live-action film — would be more frightening for children.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Several characters have their moments, but Dodger is the most apparent.
    Oliver: So when are we gonna eat?
    Dodger: We?
    Oliver: Yeah, I'm starving!
    Dodger: Listen, kid, I hate to break it to you, but the "dynamic duo" is now the dynamic uno.
  • Destroy the Security Camera: When Fagin's dogs sneak into Mr. Sykes' warehouse to rescue Jenny and Oliver, they get spotted by one of Sykes' security cameras. Tito chews the wires to shut off the camera, but gets comically electrocuted as a result.
  • Determinator: Oliver continues to pursue Dodger after getting dipped in cement, sprayed with water, and humiliated in a wide variety of ways.
  • Disney Creatures of the Farce: Georgette is surrounded by a flock of birds like a Disney princess... except the birds appear to have the hots for her!
  • Disney Death:
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: When Fagin is first visited by Sykes, who he owed money to and is implied not to be able to pay it back in time; he tries to put off admitting this by talking about the weather and about Sykes' dogs. Sykes won't have it.
    Fagin: Oh, lovely evening, I was just saying this to your two lovely, pure-bred...
    Sykes: ...the money, Fagin.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: No one wants to adopt the orange cat. Like the Red-Headed Stepchild who was originally going to be Penny.
  • Dog Stereotype: Several, most obviously Francis the English Bulldog who is pompous and British.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Icelandic dub, some of the names of the supporting cast were changed. Dodger was named Hrappur, Rita was named Beta, Georgette was named Súsanna, Roscoe and DeSoto were named Rosti og Sóti, and Winston was named Jónas.
    • Some character names are also changed in the Finnish dub. Dodger became Filuri, Fagin became Pultsi, Georgette became Rusetti ('bowtie'), Sykes became Jysky and Roscoe became Rosso.
  • Dumb Muscle: Einstein
  • Dude Magnet: Georgette. Just look at how many boyfriends she has had and still has.
  • Ears as Hair: During "Perfect Isn't Easy", Georgette uses her ears as if they were hair, such as when she wakes up her ears look how they would when a woman has bed hair, and when she rolls a curler down her ear making it curled, among other things in the song.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Tito and Dodger during the "Why Should I Worry?" reprise as the truck the two are riding on top of passes by a car with two female dogs in it.
  • The '80s: It's pretty obvious to tell this film came out in the 80's and takes place in the 80's. Most notable evidence includes the way people dress, the style of Rita's hair, and of course, the songs. This does make the film seem very dated, which is likely one of the reasons why Disney (who's known for making timeless films) did not release this film on video until after its 1996 reissue.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Sykes' car, which should have wrecked and/or derailed the subway train, explodes in a spectacular fireball when hit and the train continues completely unimpeded as if the blast vaporized it on impact.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor:
    • The trope's "macabre sense of humor" variant is hinted at with Roscoe, who thinks kicking someone's TV is funny.
      Dodger: Roscoe, Roscoe, is this us losing our sense of humor?
      Roscoe: Nah, I ain't lost my sense of humor. [kicks the TV at the wall, breaking a few things and sending sparks flying] See? I find that funny! [chuckles maliciously]
    • For being one of the most serious and realistic Disney Villains, Sykes also does show a sick and twisted sense of humor. When he kidnaps Jenny for ransom and as he's tying the poor frightened girl to a chair, he cruelly jokes that he'll have his dogs eat her if her parents don't pay the ransom.
      Sykes: Now don't cry, little girl. They only eat when I tell them to. [chuckles sinisterly]
  • Evil Plan: The plot of the movie is driven by Sykes trying to get Fagin to pay back the loan. The lengths he goes to are what make him a villain.
  • Expy:
    • Jenny was originally going to be Penny from The Rescuers and it shows. Notice how they creatively changed one letter in her name.
    • Dodger's characterization is pretty much the same as Tramp from Lady and the Tramp, another sassy, dirt-poor, streetwise dog.
  • Family of Choice: Fagin's canine posse survive aboard a derelict boat as a band of scroungers and thieves. They even extend their circle to include the kitten Oliver. When Oliver becomes stranded in the limousine, Tito insists upon a rescue: "We got to do something, man. He's family. He's blood." Since the dogs are completely different breeds and Oliver, the he in question, is a cat, Tito is clearly speaking about the strength of their bonds rather than any literal blood relationship.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Sykes' dogs are knocked off the speeding car onto the subway tracks and electrocuted to death (you actually see Roscoe die on-screen), followed by Sykes plowing head-first into the train, killing him in a fiery blaze. After this, and Ursula's impalement in The Little Mermaid (1989), "The villain falls to his/her doom" (frequently as the result of their own treachery) was used for many years afterwards.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: In one of the more startling moments, one of the dobermans confront Oliver and the kitten slashes him across the nose and for a split-second, you will see up close that he's drawn blood.
  • Fluffy Dry Cat: Current Trope Illustrator, showing what Oliver looks like after getting drenched by a fire hydrant — courtesy of Dodger — then walking over a subway air vent.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Most of the humans are depicted with five-fingered hands. The only character to avert this rule is Louie the hot dog vendor, who for some reason only has four fingers on each hand.
  • Friendship Song: In the song "Good Company" Jenny sings about how her and Oliver will always be friends.
  • From Zero to Hero: Oliver starts out with a giveaway kitten in a cardboard box. Evening rain destroys the box, leaving this kitten a street urchin. He happens upon Jenny Foxworth, who adopts him and names him Oliver. When she falls into the clutches of the villain, Oliver is the first one of Fagin's crew to make an insane leap between speeding vehicles to effect Jenny's rescue.
  • Funny Animal: It's... complicated. The animals can understand humans, but possibly not the other way around. The animals do a lot of human poses, and Tito manages to drive a motorbike in one scene, but they stand on four legs rather than two.

  • Hakuna Matata: "Why Should I Worry?", a particular case of this trope written way before the Trope Namer. Dodger isn't a comic relief character in the end, but it's very much a "let me astonish you, young stranger, with tales of my carefree lifestyle" song.
  • Handy Mouth: Tito is the hot-wire expert of Fagin's gang. He's seen pulling wires from underneath a limousine's dashboard with his teeth, and jumping the connections by holding select wires in his mouth and letting his saliva act as the conductor. He would later activate a freight elevator in Sykes' lair by pulling a wire with his teeth, then pressing the exposed end against the circuit board.
  • High-Voltage Death: Sykes' dobermans are knocked off a speeding car onto some subway tracks. One of them, named Roscoe, dies of electrocution when he falls onto an electrified subway third rail. While another dog who is killed is only heard not shown, and Sykes, who dies by being crushed by a train, is only barely shown.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sykes' crazed pursuit of the gang on the subway lines proves to be his undoing as he is caught completely off guard when sure enough, an actual subway train appears heading right for him.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Fagin, but instead of pigeons he has dogs.
  • Hood Hopping: Dodger eludes Oliver by jumping over cars. Oliver follows, but falls through the sunroof of one car.
  • "I Am" Song: "Why Should I Worry?" for Dodger.
  • "I Am Great!" Song: Georgette's first scene, "Perfect Isn't Easy", is a classic example. It even provides the page image for that trope.
  • I Broke a Nail: Georgette — her scream and discomfort at this is actually a justified use — as a dog? She's actually lucky that all it did was take off hard tissue.
  • I'll Kill You!:
    Tito: All right, Frankie, that's it! You've insulted my pride! That means death!
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • Billy Joel, as Dodger, in one of the first major celebrity-voice turns in a Disney movie.
    • There's a lot of Bette Midler in Georgette as well.
    • Dom De Luise as Fagin—almost no difference.
  • Insistent Terminology: As he will constantly remind you, Francis goes by his real name. Not Frank or Frankie... Francis.
  • Inspired by…: Some people have no idea this film has anything to do with Dickens' Oliver Twist until it's pointed out to them.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Oliver the cat befriends Fagin's dogs.
  • Interspecies Romance: Doesn't actually end up happening, but the birds that assist Georgette during "Perfect Isn't Easy" literally have their tongues sagging at the sight of her, which has some pretty interesting implications.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: Georgette accidentally scares off the Plucky Comic Relief/Chew Toy Tito, who's been hitting on her for the whole movie, with this trope.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A number of them — Dodger and Fagin at times, as well as Georgette, near the end.
  • Just A Kitten: Subverted repeatedly with Oliver.
  • Just Train Wrong: There's no way Sykes could drive his limousine into the subway. The entrance likely wouldn't be wide enough for his car to fit and he'd have a hard time getting past the turnstiles. Lastly, it'd be nearly impossible for Sykes to drive his car off the platform at an angle and land with his wheels perfectly aligned onto the rails. From there, this turns into Cars Without Tires Are Trains (see above).
  • Kick the Dog: Sykes definitely does this when he has his dogs beat the crap out of poor Dodger (who was protecting Fagin).
  • Kill the Creditor: Inadvertently. Fagin, while joining his dogs and Oliver in saving Jenny (whom Sykes had captured in lieu of the money Fagin owed him, telling Fagin to "Consider our account closed."), flees on his scooter and is pursued by Sykes in his car, even through the subway and onto the Manhattan Bridge. It's there that the group sees an oncoming train and dodge out of its way, while Sykes (who was otherwise preoccupied until it was too late) is hit and killed by the train, thus permanently solving the issue of the debt Fagin owes him.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Sykes, Jesus Christ!
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The aforementioned picture of Scooby-Doo.
  • Lives in a Van: Fagin lives in a beached and derelict trawler underneath a pier beside the Hudson River. It doesn't help that a sign before we first see it says the area is condemned by the Port Authority of NY and NJ. The boat has no plumbing, no heat, and gets electricity by mooching from a dockside light pole. Fagin and his canine cohorts scrounge for a living.
  • Loan Shark: Bill Sykes. Disney makes it very clear that he's willing to kill and throws in a few possible links to the Mafia.
  • Look Behind You: Dodger does this to Tito in order to pounce on him, starting a dog fight.
    "Hey, Tito, look!"
  • Match Cut:
    • A shot of the Manhattan skyline at night is held for a transition to the next morning, especially considering the Twin Towers are in the shot as well.
    • Oliver's shiny new collar dissolves into a star in the night sky.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: A downplayed example. The gang sees Winston swinging a rolling pin, and assume that he's using it to beat Oliver. In reality, he's just getting into the wrestling match on TV.
  • Mood Whiplash: This movie can pretty quickly go from cutesy to intense (sometimes combining the two) and from comedic to serious. Disney movies are known for Mood Whiplash, but this one takes it so far that after watching it one night you might be thinking next morning, "wow, all those scenes were really from the same movie?"
  • National Animal Stereotypes: Francis is a British bulldog, and Tito is a Mexican chihuahua.
  • New York Is Only Manhattan: The film takes place almost exclusively in Manhattan; the climax occurs on the Manhattan Bridge. Further, the opening scene is a slow pan of western Manhattan, and the closing scene is a zoom-out on Times Square.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When Sykes sics his dogs on Fagin (for being unable to pay his boss back) and Dodger aggressively defends the scraggly old man from the dobermans' wrath.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The look on Sykes' face right before he catches the train.
    • Georgette was snickering about about Oliver being "kidnapped"...until Jenny says she's going to rescue him.
  • One-Book Author: To date, this film remains Billy Joel's only voice-acting credit.
  • Parental Abandonment: Jenny's parents are away on business. In the movie itself, they were mentioned by Jenny and Winston, but never appeared.
  • Parental Bonus: Practically a small-scale Running Gag with Georgette:
  • Prehensile Tail: Dodger uses his tail to grab a batch of flowers and toss them to some female dogs during the "Why Should I Worry?" number.
  • Product Placement:
    • The many, many billboards and logos seen in backgrounds are real brands, for authenticity's sake. The junk Jenny gets from the dogs as birthday presents even includes a GMC hubcap.
    • Jenny did mention "Cocoa Krispies" in the meal she made for Oliver as well.
  • Psycho Poodle: Georgette greets Oliver with condescension, finishing with an outright screech: "It may be Jenny's house, but everything from the doorknobs down IS MINE!" She dials back her Alpha Bitchiness when she must team up with Fagin's gang to rescue Jenny and Oliver from Sykes, but dials it back up at the ending, causing Tito, her Stalker with a Crush, to flee from her in a panic.
  • Race Lift: Again, Fagin, who's never said to be Jewish in this film.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Oliver.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Sykes has a pair of vicious Dobermans.
  • Sausage String Silliness: Dodger takes off with a long string of sausages while Oliver distracts the hot dog vendor.
  • Say My Name:
    • Sykes' final line.
      Sykes: FAGIN!!!
    • Georgette screams Tito's first name ("Alonzo") in panic as the subway train approaches.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • The New York skyline was recreated in perfect detail, as was the streets, subways and bridges. The Twin Towers were a vital part of the city skyline, so of course they're there too. Dodger's travel during the song "Why Should I Worry" goes through an accurate map of the city. That includes the building sites and road repairs he passes through — well, at the specific time they took the 'snapshot' for the city — and most of the shops and banks, although mostly renamed, are at least accurate in what they sold.
    • There's also the insides of Jenny's house, Fagin's boat, and Sykes' building.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After finally winning Georgette's affections, Tito finds himself completely at her mercy when she tries to doll him up into an overly proper, goody-two-shoes house dog; after about ten minutes alone with her, he immediately bails.
  • Second-Face Smoke: Sykes does it to Fagin.
  • Sensational Staircase Sequence: The finale for Georgette's big number, "Perfect Isn't Easy", has her strutting down a grand spiral staircase topped by a crystal chandelier.
  • Setting Update: On Oliver Twist.
  • Shaking the Rump: During the song "Why Should I Worry?", two female chorus dogs briefly give Dodger a sexy look while shaking their butts in a "suggestive" manner.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The birds that dress Georgette during "Perfect Isn't Easy" do the same thing the birds did for Cinderella during "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" (at least the ones with the animal print scarf).
    • And, y'know, Tito's song. "Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go..."
    • One of the watches that Fagin is wearing is a Mickey Mouse watch. Mickey Mouse also turned 60 the same day this movie was first released.
    • During the "Good Company" montage, Oliver jumps on the carriage rider's head.
      • Also, the orange cat playing the piano, and the motorcycle thumping down the steps of the subway...
    • Jenny's special birthday dress looks a lot like Little Orphan Annie's iconic wear.
  • Shown Their Work: The Product Placement throughout the movie and Sykes's behavior as a loan shark.
    • Also, the fact that Georgette is wearing hair curlers. Show poodle hair is a bitch to look after, often needing hot oil and hair curlers to make it look show perfect.
    • Georgette also has a lovely set of teeth, accurate for a dog.
  • Shrine to Self: Georgette.
  • Sinister Car: While most motor vehicles are routine traffic and Fagin's scooter-cum-shopping cart is rather laughable, Sykes' matte black Lincoln Continental is portrayed as ominous, like a V-8 version of Darth Vader. When Sykes pursues his fleeing quarry into the subway tunnels with this car, it heightens this effect.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Einstein is the only one of the main dogs to not appear on the original VHS cover.
  • Sleep Cute: Oliver curled up next to Dodger.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: With dogs.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Roscoe, who suavely takes to Rita.
  • Street Smart: Everyone in Fagin's gang, contrasted with Naďve Newcomer Oliver.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Georgette's voice tends to spike unexpectedly. The best example is when she first meets Oliver.
    "It may be Jenny's house, but everything from the doorknobs down IS MINE!"
  • Tagalong Kid: Oliver, unless you see him as The Hero.
  • Talking Animal: Level 3 or Level 6 on the Sliding Scale of Animal Communication. It is unknown whether or not the humans can understand the pets talking, but most of the time it's because the animals don't usually talk at all when the humans are around.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Fagin's reaction the "ransom" Jenny brought to the docks. The look on his face illustrates the realization that the outcome of the night will not end well at all.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: It's very brief, but Georgette has one of these as she deals with the trauma of the gang's flight from Sykes, before sagging over the wheel of Fagin's scooter.
  • Tied Up on the Phone: Winston is watching a wrestling match on TV and getting caught up in the action when the phone rings, and he swings around so hard when answering it that he gets tangled up in the cord.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl:
    • Georgette, a poodle, is the huge girl to tiny guy Tito, a chihuahua.
    • You could also say that Dodger and Rita fall under this considering Rita is much taller than Dodger, and the two of them are often shipped together by fans, due to their romantic chemistry.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sykes. Driving a car through the New York Subway tunnel is just ASKING to be killed!
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Once Upon a Time in New York City" has two, and they're both instrumental. The first is during the Sleep Cute scene in which Oliver cuddles with Dodger, and the other is over the ending credits, as the end title track.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Streets of Gold" starts in E major and ends in F♯ major, and "Perfect Isn't Easy" has the beginning sung in C major, the middle sung in B♭ major and the ending in B major.
  • Unwanted Rescue: The gang's "rescue" of Oliver from Jenny's house, which he's clearly upset about after they get him back to the barge.
  • Vehicular Kidnapping: Sykes abducts Jenny by driving up to her and quickly pulling her into his car.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sykes. While he's mainly calm throughout the movie, in the climactic car chase, he follows Fagin into the subway tunnel in his car, pulls down the gear stick so hard it breaks off, and punches his hand through his car's window to get at Jenny.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Sykes — he's a Loan Shark / mafia boss, and he is most certainly not Played for Laughs. In fact, at no point does the movie portray his occupation as child-friendly.
  • Villain Song:
    • Despite Dodger not being a villain, "Why Should I Worry?", coming immediately after he takes advantage of Oliver, qualifies.
    • "Perfect Isn't Easy" sung by Georgette would qualify as well, as it's probably the closest thing to a villain song in the film, though she's actually much more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Tito and Francis are at each others' throats almost constantly, but on at least one occasion, you see Tito curled up between Francis' paws and using his jowls as a blanket. Tito also gets extremely agitated when Roscoe menaces Francis.
  • We Will Meet Again: "You guys are gonna pay for this, starting with that cat."
  • Wet Cement Gag: Oliver and Dodger walk across wet cement after stealing hot dogs.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Or rather what happened to the owners who put Oliver and his litter up for adoption? And neglected to take Oliver back to the safety of the indoors when he was the last one left? The implication seems to be that, after interest in the kittens dwindled to the point that they were being given away for free, the owners just decided to forget about him, but it's never explained in-film.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Apparently, Disney finds it easier to portray theft, breaking and entering, and attempted murder if the culprits are animals; in that respect, this movie isn't too different from The Lion King (1994).
  • What You Are in the Dark: Fagin ransomed Oliver on the belief that a rich man owned the kitty briefly. He balks on learning that Oliver's owner is actually a little girl who came out in the middle of the night with her piggy bank. Fagin refuses to even tell her that he ransomed the cat, and pretends to have found Oliver in the street. He gives Oliver back to her, never revealing that he was the kidnapper and demanding no money. Then when Sykes kidnaps Jenny, he follows the dogs and has them escape on his motorscooter, despite knowing it's a death sentence.
  • Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Sykes shows these eyes just before his death.
  • Wolf Whistle: The wolf howl variation is done by Georgette's enamored fans when she appears.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The main difference between Fagin and Sykes is that Fagin will not hurt a little girl, emotionally or physically. Fagin returns Oliver on learning his owner is an eight-year old child, without demanding any money or revealing he was the kidnapper.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Sykes tells Fagin he's proud of him for starting to think big (demanding a ransom for someone's beloved pet), you can see in Fagin's look that he takes this as anything but a compliment.


Video Example(s):


Oliver Joins The Gang

A little orange kitten who would later be named Oliver impresses a rough-and-tough gang of dogs and their master Fagan, who allows him to join their gang.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ACatInAGangOfDogs

Media sources: