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All Dogs Go to Heaven

MGM // G // March 29, 2011
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 19, 2011 | E-mail the Author


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All
Dogs Go to Heaven
style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: times new roman;">
centers around a mischievous but ultimately goodhearted dog named
Charlie (Burt
Reynolds). The film begins with him escaping from prison along with his
best
friend, a fellow dog named Itchy (Dom DeLuise). They return to a Casino
which
is run by a ruthless head-honcho dog named Carface (Vic Tayback), who
isn't too
happy about Charlie's return. Charlie ends up being murdered by some
goons
working for Carface. Charlie then arrives at Heaven and seizes an
opportunity
to sneak out of death by grabbing his life's stopwatch to rewind time.
Upon
returning to life he hears a voice tell him that he can "never go
back", and
then he decides to seek revenge on Carface using the help of his close
pal Itchy.
The funny pair discovers a little girl named Anne-Marie (Judith Barsi)
who can somehow
speak to animals and they decide to use her as a way to make some
money, open
up a Casino, and get back at Carface for what he did. Over the course
of the
film, Anne-Marie and Charlie grow increasingly closer. Anne-Marie is an
orphan
girl in need of love and a family. Can Charlie help her out and find a
way to
return to Heaven someday? Those are the biggest questions found in this
particular story.

style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">I
remember what it was like to be a
young kid. Unfortunately, that's the kind of thing that some people
learn to
forget over the course of their lives. Not everyone fondly
reminiscences on
those youthful days either. For those individuals who do reminiscence,
however,
I would expect many of the generations of the 80's or 90's to remember
the
experiences that were had watching some genuine animated classics by
the unique
animation master Don Bluth. Bluth directed some of the all time
greatest
animated features: An American Tail, The
Land Before Time
, The Secret of Nimh, and (of
course) All Dogs Go to Heaven. Upon the initial
release of All Dogs Go to Heaven
critics were generally negative towards the film and indeed audiences
did not
seem as receptive to the work as some of Bluth's earlier efforts. The
film is
widely considered as one of the greater achievements in his career
amongst loyal
fans and has a strong following that remains passionate about this
unique
animated project despite those unfairly negative critical stances found
early
in the films ongoing history.


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">style="font-family: times new roman;">I have heard the complaints
several times.
There are many viewers who feel the film is too dark for young children
(thematically, as well as through the way the film presents violence,
smoking,
gambling, etc.), that it features too many unremarkable songs,
disappointing
animation, and even religious undertones that might alienate some
viewers with
those elements. The curious thing for myself to contemplate and examine
is:
"When did a children's film have to become something sanitized?" The
story is
truly dark for a children's film, and that is something I will not
deny.
However, the story also focuses primarily on giving a positive message
to
children about the important power of love and friendship. The 'bad
guy' dog
characters do exhibit some unlikeable traits throughout the film, as do
the
flawed 'good guy' dogs featured in the story. Yet the thing that makes
the
threads weave together into an entertaining and meaningful way are how
the film
portrays its characters as being more understandably human: everyone
has flaws,
and no one is perfect. Here is a film that doesn't try to mask that
from
children. It acknowledges the fact that life isn't always something
squeaky
clean and works within that foundation of honesty to explore characters
that
are heading towards redemption.style="font-family: times new roman;">


style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">


cellpadding="10" cellspacing="2">






style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">

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height="400" width="257">


style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">style="">style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: times new roman;">The
film is directed in the same
style as most Bluth productions as the stylistic choices are purely his
own and
are not readily seen in other animated efforts. Excellent storytelling,
a focus
on the characters, offbeat stylistic choices in animation, and a unique
eye for
presenting the visuals are normal expectations for one of his films. style="">All Dogs Go to Heaven delivers in those
areas. The film is never uninteresting to watch, and it zips along
quickly
while maintaining a balance that allows for the film to not feel
watered down
or underdeveloped. The animation is on par with most other Bluth films,
and
should not disappoint audiences who have appreciated his stylistic
preferences.
The songs featured in the film may not work as well as I remembered
them when I
was young. Indeed, to some viewers it could be understandable for that
element
to overshadow some of the other successes found in the film. The
singing itself
is less polished than anything ever featured in Disney animated
efforts. I'd
argue that the songs actually blend nicely with the surprisingly more
realistic
tone established for the bulk of the film and that it enhances the
overall
mood founded by the story.



style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">style="font-family: times new roman;">This film was made back in 1989
and
it is just as old as I am in years. The story it tells is clearly a
timeless
one. All Dogs Go to
Heaven
holds up
even better today than it did when I was a child. The thematic nature
of the
story has even more relevance to me now than it ever did in the past.
It was
always clear that I enjoyed this film, and now I can understand why
with more
grace and knowledge. This is a film that has important themes for
children to
understand: the importance of life, the significance of death, the
nobility of
friendship, and that despite a sometimes harsh world one can always
still find
some hope in a friend (even a
style="font-family: times new roman;">dogstyle="font-family: times new roman;">
friend).



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height="225" width="400">


style="font-family: times new roman;">


The
Blu-ray:

style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center; line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;"
align="center">


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">Video:


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">All
Dogs Go to Heaven
is
presented in 1080p High
Definition with an AVC encoded transfer at a bit-rate of 32 MBPS. The
film is
presented in the original theatrical exhibition ratio of 1:85:1
widescreen (and
not the 1:37:1 negative ratio or the 1:33:1 full frame ratio used for
previous DVD
editions) on a 25 GB Region A Blu-ray disc. It was a substantial
delight to
finally be able to see the film in its theatrical aspect ratio as I was
never
able to see the film in theaters. This presentation is leaps and bounds
better
than previous DVD editions for that reason alone (as this is the first
time the
film hasn't been presented in full frame). The image looks exactly as
it was
intended and doesn't appear cropped or manipulated (which should be
helpful
information for anyone who would be doubtful of the widescreen
presentation).
The print itself is clearly dated and it appears as though MGM likely
used the
same source material as previously employed for prior editions. I
appreciated
the fact that grain was left intact, though some might be annoyed that
this
isn't a shiny new restored release. Print damage is occasionally
noticeable but
this rarely distracted from the experience as it was relatively minor.
Colors
are noticeably better than they ever looked on DVD but the film's color
palette
has also never been as striking as some might prefer. The presentation also
fluctuates slightly between being sharper and slightly soft. While this
isn't a
great transfer by any means, I am happy to acknowledge that the film
has never
looked better.


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">Audio:style="font-size: 12pt;">


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">First
of all: the audio on this
release isn't the most engaging or dynamic mix one might hope for. The
relatively good news is that the included 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track
does a
decent job of representing how the film probably sounded when it was
released
in theaters 21 years ago. Nothing sounds particularly enveloping with
this
track, but the score by Ralph Burns is well represented and the audio
is mostly
clear and easy to understand. The audio is a noticeable (if slight)
improvement
over previous editions of the film with the lossless audio upgrade.
This
release also includes Spanish and French Dolby Surround options.
Subtitles are
provided for French speakers and the deaf and hard of hearing.


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">Extras:


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">Unfortunately,
there are no respectable extras to be found anywhere on this release.
There
isn't even a menu (only pop-up menu options are available). I would
hope that
future MGM releases of similar titles would at least include a menu
screen, as
well as informative 'making of' extras, but the only thing provided
here is the
original theatrical trailer. That's all fans get. At least the release
isn't losing any extras (the previous DVD
editions were barebones as well).


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height="225" width="400">


style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";"> style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">


style="line-height: normal; font-family: times new roman;">style="font-size: 12pt;">Final
Thoughts:


style="font-family: times new roman;">All
Dogs Go to Heaven
style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";">style="font-family: times new roman;">
is one of Don Bluth's most enchanting animated efforts and it should
succeed at
entertaining audiences of all ages. The Blu-ray release features a
significant
upgrade over previous DVD editions in PQ/AQ, even though it fails to
meet the
high standards of Disney animated releases or other catalogue title
releases in
general. This is a release worth upgrading to for any devoted fans who
want to
see the film in the proper aspect ratio. style="font-family: times new roman;">Highly Recommended.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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