VIDEO: All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)

A special addendum to the review:

It’s time to take a look at one of Don Bluth’s strangest films! Set in the late 1930s, the movie is about a German shepherd voiced by Burt Reynolds who gets killed by his business partner, but leaves Heaven and goes back to Earth to exact his brutal, violent revenge. With the help of a cute orphan!

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  • Muthsarah

    Hey Pal Joey,

    While I don’t consider All Dogs… to be Bluth at his best, I do still cherish it as the end of an era, and as a fantastic accompaniment to The Little Mermaid.  Sure, they don’t have ANYTHING in common, but much as Bluth made American animation in the 80s, this movie was (unintentionally, obviously) passing the torch to the Disney Renaissance.

    Bluth’s films (the good ones, anyway) always had a grittiness to them that Disney never woulda touched.  NIMH dealt with a small child facing death, mysticism, captivity and torture, genetic manipulation, possible mutilation, etc. in a way that adults could clearly appreciate more than children could (at least, I appreciated it more than I did when I first saw it as a kid).  At most, Disney’s 90s films had brief jokes that would fly over a child’s head but would still make them laugh (most kids don’t know who William F. Buckley is, but how many still laughed or at least smiled when The Genie made yet another joke based around a goofy impression?).  There’s pitching jokes at adults, and then there’s pitching whole themes at adults.  All Dogs, from the murder subplot, to the 1930s casino/gambling atmosphere, to the rather complex and very believable Charlie/Itchy relationship, especially Itchy’s monologue about their friendship, feels like it’s actually pitched primarily at adults, but children are still invited along for the ride, because it’s animated, and it’s about dogs, and there’s songs and some silly characters, etc.  To me, All Dogs is probably the best combination of a kids’ and adults’ animated movie, at least as Bluth or Disney are concerned.  The Fleischer comparison is very apropos, and something I will admit I hadn’t noticed before.  I’d always thought of Looney Tunes with these zoom-out-circle-thingees, and I didn’t think much of it (because they aren’t similar in any other ways), but the 1930s cartoon comparisons are right on the mark.  And those cartoons were also pitched at adults just as much as at kids, even to the point of occasionally being so risque or borderline scary that censors had them…well, censored.

    Anyway, I think we all know, or can easily understand, that Little Mermaid beat the pants off of this movie back in ’89, bringing a very sudden end to Bluth’s era of prominence and returning animation to the bright, sunny, youth-orientated stories and away from Bluth’s focus on adult themes, adult protagonists (Mrs. Brisby, Charlie, even Disney’s Basil of Baker Street were all clearly adults, as compared with EVERY Disney character from the 1990s, who were really more like teenagers).  It’s a shame that happened, and that these darker, again grittier films were left by the wayside, but I suppose it couldn’t have lasted forever.  NIMH, An American Tale, and All Dogs Go to Heaven make a spectacular trilogy, and a HUGE departure from the usual Disney formula.  I actually don’t mind that this film came out the same year as The Little Mermaid.  I just wish it had come out a month or two sooner, so it could have had its place in the sun, however briefly, before it, and its creator, was buried by a Disney that had been chastened, had learned the lesson its competitor had been trying to teach it (that full-length, lavish animated films were still worth making, especially if you could appeal to kids and adults both), and was about to turn that newfound wisdom into its third (always brief) runs of spectacular films.  Disney in the 90s wouldn’t have been what it was without Bluth kicking Disney in the butt and beating it at its own game for the better part of ten years.  And while Disney didn’t exactly build upon Bluth’s grit, he nonetheless left his mark on the industry and proved that there was still a market – and not just among kids – for this kind of movie.

    P.S. I don’t visit these other sites of yours, but I think it’s unreasonable of them to give you $#!+ for not going out of your way to talk about the poor little voice actress’ story.  It’s not relevant to the movie, it shouldn’t have to be in your mind as you describe it as a piece of art, and you shouldn’t be made to feel that you have to address it.  Choosing to leave it alone is not the same as pretending it didn’t happen.  I hope you weren’t put under so much pressure that you felt you HAD to make a separate video about it.  You really don’t.  It has nothing to do with you, and it doesn’t reflect poorly on you that you chose not to pre-emptively address it.  This sounds to me like the work of nitpickers with delusions of righteousness.

    • Joseph Tedesco

      I still think that what Bluth wanted to do was make movies that the whole family can enjoy. By including the dark and edgy stuff for the adults would counterbalance between the lighter stuff with the characters and such. In some ways, it’s what Disney used to do a lot that Bluth wanted to recapture. I remember him mentioning what pride he took by using a lighting technique where a certain color through the cel would make the image look like an ominous glow… which was something he picked up from Frank Thomas! “All Dogs Go to Heaven” didn’t seem as memorable as “Land Before Time” which to me was a very good family film both for the kids and the adults.

      Thanks for watching 🙂

  • Thomas Stockel

    I confess when it comes to animated movies I did not give Bluth’s films too much attention; I think I was influenced by my younger brother, who is a hard core Disney fan.  He would drag me to Oliver and Company, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, etc.  So I largely missed out on much of Bluth’s run.  Sometimes I regret that.

    I think it was a classy thing to post the addendum, Joey; it shows you are sensitive to how people might feel.  But I think you should do the review how you want and not worry about finding out every little detail.  Everyone has their own way of doing things and if you try to include what you think everyone wants the videos might turn into a bloated mess that you don’t have fun putting together.  If people really need to know what the box office was for a movie, for example they can look it up themselves.

    • Joseph Tedesco

       Personally, I agree with you. However I think most of the audience expects me to know all these sorts of details. At some point, I think the video could serve as a way to set the record straight. Watch the movie… give my thoughts 🙂