All Dogs Go to Heaven Blu-Ray Review
Twentieth Century Fox Home Video’s All Dogs Go to Heaven Blu-Ray is a disappointing release of a highly underrated Don Bluth film. 3.5/5.
Like his debut The Secret of NIMH, Don Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven got little respect when it hit theatres in 1989. It didn’t help that the former Disney animator’s flick was overshadowed by The Little Mermaid, the movie that re-established the Mouse House as a force in animation during the early 1990s.
That said, All Dogs Go to Heaven hit big on home video, becoming one of the best-selling VHS releases of all time, which makes it highly surprising that Twentieth Century Fox Home Video gave this cult classic such a cheap-ass release on Blu-Ray.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Video Presents Don Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven on Blu-Ray
Set in 1939 New Orleans, smooth-talking confidence hound Charlie B. Barkin (Burt Reynolds) breaks out of the dog pound, accompanied by his sidekick Itchy Itchiford (Dom Deluise). Returning to the casino, he runs with his partner Carface (Vic Tayback), Charlie finds out the hard way that Carface wants to sever their partnership. Permanently.
Charlie finds himself in Heaven, despite the fact that he’s never done a good deed in his life. However, he restarts his life by stealing his “life watch” and returns to Earth in order to get revenge. He does this by stealing Carface’s secret weapon: an adorable orphan named Anne-Marie (Judith Barsi) who can talk to animals. Will Anne-Marie teach Charlie how to love and find redemption? Ya think?
Storywise, this film is highly predictable, and most kids will be able to call the twists before they happen. This movie was deemed too intense for younger children back in the day. It’s not as bad as its reputation, but parents should definitely scope out a few scenes (such as a hellhound menacing Charlie in a dream sequence) before showing this flick to the wee ones.
Visually, All Dogs Go to Heaven was no masterpiece. Disney Animation had caught up with Bluth, and it didn’t help that he was dealing with a much smaller budget ($13 million). That said, the animation is in line with the era and demonstrates Bluth’s proven ability to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Where Bluth really innovated was in his character design. While most animation of the era was highly regimented, Bluth stretched the boundaries of caricature, especially in using Reynolds’ well-known mannerisms to influence Charlie’s character.
A big plus with this film is how Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise play off each other. Like John Goodman and Billy Crystal in Pixar’s Monsters Inc., Reynolds and Deluise recorded their voice tracks together, instead of the traditional method that has them record their tracks separately. Their ad-libs and hilarious riffing make one wonder why other studios don’t make their voice talent record together.
All Dogs Go to Heaven Blu-Ray Extras
Ordinarily, if I see zero special features in a home video release, I make fun of it by adapting a quote from The Princess Bride or Star Wars. However, Fox Home Video deserves a new one for not adding any special features to this release.
It would be understandable if All Dogs Go to Heaven was a complete bomb. But this film was a massive cult classic (did I mention one of the top VHS releases of all time?), which means there’s a huge built-in audience. Compare this to Disney’s release of another film that only found its audience on home video: Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Mouse House piled on the extras for that DVD release, knowing that fans of the film wanted them.
Why couldn’t Fox give a proven title like All Dogs Go to Heaven the same respect?
Twentieth Century Fox Home Video’s All Dogs Go to Heaven a Wonderful Film But Zero Extras
Is All Dogs Go to Heaven a classic? No, but it is a very good animated film and deserves a place on your shelf if you’re an animation fan. However, serious boo-urns to Fox Home Video for not giving this title, and its considerable audience, any respect.
For that reason alone, the All Dogs Go to Heaven Blu-Ray gets downgraded to a 3.5/5.
Interesting fact: The song “Love Survives” was dedicated to actress Judith Barsi, who was murdered by her father a year and a half before the movie came out.