animated movie All Dogs Go to Heaven © Don Bluth

Reviews for All Dogs Go to Heaven

3.21 stars / 19 ratings
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koalabear2000's avatar
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Reviews: 18

koalabear2000's Review

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posted: Mar 21, 2012
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i saw the film when i was like four. it was ok, but i really prefer oliver & company the best. though it was pretty good.i liked the film because charlie is helping anne marie find her family.

comparing it to when jenny found oliver in the car, she wanted to adopt him. i still prefer oliver & company

JTurner's avatar
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Reviews: 9

JTurner's Review

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posted: Dec 14, 2008
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Around the late 1970's, animator Don Bluth, frustrated with the output his company, Disney was churning, defected from the Mouse House to form his own studio. His first production, THE SECRET OF NIMH, was a brilliant feature that still holds up well to this day. This was followed by AN American TAIL and THE LAND BEFORE TIME, both of which were made under the involvement of Steven Spielberg and were commercially successful. Although none of those two films had the dark adult appeal of NIMH, they still are very charming, enjoyable features for both children and grown-ups. But before long, Don Bluth had his first major misfire with ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN; critics were especially harsh on this film, and matters weren't helped by the fact that it opened alongside Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID.

Considering that the movie has such a friendly-sounding title, one would expect ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN to be pleasant family fare. Instead Bluth provides a surprisingly dark story involving gambling, deceit, crime, mistreatment, and murder. That itself is not a problem for an animated feature per say, but it does call into question over whether the film is for children. On the other hand, it's hard to say whether adults will find much to enjoy in ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN. In short, it's a movie with a major identity crisis.

Set in a dreary junkyard of New Orleans, the movie starts out when Charlie B. Barkin, a rough-and-tumble German shepherd, is run over by a car courtesy of his former gambling casino partner, a nasty, cigar-puffing pitbull, Carface. Before you know it, Charlie finds himself in heaven, albeit by default. Here a whippet angel, Annabelle, tells him that "all dogs go to heaven because unlike people, dogs are usually loyal and kind." This line represents the confused nature of the movie, since the dogs in the movie, the whippet aside, are presented as anything but.

Upon realizing that he's been murdered, Charlie steals his way back to Earth and plots to get even with Carface. With the reluctant help of his dachshund pal Itchy, Charlie "rescues" Carface's prize, AnneMarie, a human girl who can talk to animals (in order to predict who will win the rat races). Charlie claims that he will help the little cutie find her a family, but in reality he is using her skills to win fortunes at the race so that he can build a more elaborate casino of his own to bring Carface down. Although he refuses to admit it, Charlie does grow to love AnneMarie...

The concept of the story isn't as problematic as the execution. Aside from the human girl AnneMarie and a flamboyant musical alligator who appears about three-quarters through (with the vocal pipes of Ken Page), none of the other characters emerge as likable, nor frankly, are even worth caring about. Unfortunately, that also applies to Charlie; in trying to make him an anti-hero, the script (composed by more than ten writers) only succeeds in rendering the character TOO unlovable. As such, the audience feels no empathy for Charlie, and worse, his redemption at the end of the movie does not come across as convincing. (Further damaging to the character is the disappointingly uncharismatic vocal performance from Burt Reynolds.) Besides the lack of an endearing lead, the movie's other problem is in the structure of the story. The slowly-paced plot jumps all over the place and makes a habit of throwing in extra scenes which serve no purpose but to pad out the movie's running time. The aforementioned musical alligator (who resides in a danky sewer infested with native rats) seems to have been thrown in from nowhere, as does a scene where Charlie tries to show his generosity to AnneMarie by feeding a pack of pastel-colored pups pizza. The whole screenplay feels like a rough first draft; a bit more polish could have made this a tighter, impactful story.

Matters are not helped by the lackluster musical numbers by Charlie Strouse and T.J. Kuenster (AnneMarie's song and the gator's ballad are the only good ones; the latter in particular benefits from Ken Page's mellifluous vocal) or the uneven voice cast. As mentioned, Burt Reynolds' stiff and lifeless Charlie detracts from his already unlikeable character even further (the only exception is a fiery confession to Itchy about his true intentions toward the end). Dom DeLuise as Itchy is pretty good, but he's had better roles, notably Tiger in AN American TAIL and Jeremy in THE SECRET OF NIMH. Ken Page, as mentioned, is awesome in anything he does, but his character has such a small part that his overall contribution is unremarkable at best. Similarly wasted are Loni Anderson (as a collie who once sired a litter with Charlie), Melba Moore, and Charles Nelson Reilly. Judith Barsi as AnneMarie is probably the only voice that comes across as truly memorable, partially because her character is the sole legitimately likable one in this depressing and joyless show.

Barsi aside, the only real positive about ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN is the animation. Technically, this film has some of the most imaginative visuals from Bluth's team (by 1980's standards, that is), particularly a frightening scene where Charlie has a nightmare about ending up in a fiery underworld ruled by a gargantuan satanic canine-demon. If anything, the movie is more of a triumph of animation than storytelling.

On the whole, however, I cannot recommend ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN as good entertainment. Even though I recognize that the movie has its fans and the climax does admittingly provide some energy and a moving conclusion, the overall package is not in the same league as Bluth's better efforts. Animation buffs will marvel at the lush artistry, but by the time it's over, ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN could very well leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Dogstar's avatar
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Reviews: 34

Dogstar's Review

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posted: Mar 22, 2007
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“All Dogs go to Heaven” is really a three-star, and possibly a two and a half star movie, but I am giving it three and half starts because it was one of my favorite child-hood movies. I still love it today.

What impressed me so much as a child, and still does now, is the depth of the characters, the darkness of the plot, and just the gorgeous Bluth style animation. These features are also prominent in Bluth’s masterpiece “Nimh”. The songs in ADGTH are also very good. (Not including the sharing song)

This movie does have many faults that I am reluctant to admit. ADGTH is too disjointed and random at points. The alligator king comes from nowhere, and there are just some moments that are very unimportant to the story line.

Besides all of this it is still a good movie, and great one for me. The end is very touching, and the moral hits home. Don't take your time on earth for granted.

servewithchips's avatar
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Reviews: 93

servewithchips' Review

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posted: Feb 13, 2007
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Since dogs are supposedly just naturally good, when they die they all go to heaven. Ironically, most of the dogs in this film are criminals, and not even particularly good natured ones at that.

So, Charles B Barkin gets bumped off by the notorious Carface Malone and goes to heaven. But once there, he steals a watch that returns life to him as long as the watch keeps ticking. Also, since he left heaven, now if Charlie dies, he will be the one and only pup in doggie hell (maybe a better title would be "All Dogs Go to Heaven... Unless Banished to Hell for Misdeeds"). Once Charlie returns to Earth, he immediately begins plotting revenge. He steals away Carface's secret to gambling success - a little orphan girl that can talk to animals and thereby lets Carface know who will win the "rat-races." This little girl named Anne-Marie, modeled after the animated Snow White, it tricked into helping Charlie win at the races with promises that the money will help the poor. But when Anne-Marie gets recaptured by Carface, what will Charlie do?

All Dogs Go to Heaven was another product of our good friend Don Bluth who left Disney in the early 80's to try and bring back magic to animation. His first film, The Secret of NIMH was a masterpiece, but then Bluth's films started to slide. The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and All Dogs Go to Heaven are all decent films with redeemable parts, but then Bluth bottomed out with films like Thumbelina, A Troll in Central Park, and Rock-a-Doodle. He finally got his mojo back with Anastasia and Titan A.E., but sadly he would never match the greatness of NIMH.

So, how does All Dogs rank? It's OK. It has some decent tunes that are wedged into the film without really advancing the story, and it has pretty standard Bluth Animation... which is better than average. The character of Charlie isn't very likable and the story is not too compelling, so overall the film is pretty forgettable, but at least it doesn't have anything in it too annoying or terrible. The movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel (which many regard as superior), a TV series, and a Christmas Special though without Bluth. And while that may like a lot of milk for a so-so film, remember that The Land Before Time was milked for like 12 sequels, so by comparison... not so impressive.

In 1989 the film earned $27 million bones, and would have likely done much better if it hadn't opened the same day as The Little Mermaid, the Disney film that ushered in the Disney renaissance. In all, Dogs is so-so for Don Bluth and so-so for animated films. At least it has a bit of a dark edge to it distinguishing it from the typical kid and dog movies. And, I do prefer it to Oliver & Company, a similar film that preceded Dogs by a year but had an unlikeable human rather than an unlikeable dog as the hero. This pack of pups runs away with its tail 'tween its legs and a C+.

Juuchan17's avatar
World Class Animation Critic
Reviews: 157

Juuchan17's Review

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posted: Mar 06, 2006
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This movie gets be in tears every time I watch it.

All Dogs Go to Heaven is the tale of a street-smart and yet sinful dog that gave himself a second chance at living. It's a beautifully told story with innocence, life and a lesson to be learned.

The characters were okay (I agree, Anne-Marie did resemble Snow White by looks but also because she could communicate with animals), the story had a couple of useless scenes (like the alligator musical number . . . it was pointless to me), and the animation was nostalgic to me. Most of the songs were touching and interesting (of course, the one I didn't like was "Let's Make Music Together", which now that I think about it is quite disturbingly gay . . . *shudders*) and fit the story and scene nicely.

This is a must-see for all animation fans. I'm sure you'll enjoy it for years to come!

3.5 stars!

Shae's avatar
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Reviews: 28

Shae's Review

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posted: Sep 17, 2005
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Probably my favorite non-Disney animated movie, ADGTH is just an all-around masterpiece. A little mature for young kids, I nonetheless have loved it since I was young, and have only grown to appreciate it more and be moved by it in different ways as I got older. The sequel is also very good, but of course can never measure up to the classic original.

P.C. Unfunny's avatar
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Reviews: 83

P.C. Unfunny's Review

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posted: Sep 08, 2005
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All Dogs go to Heaven has always been one of my favorite films as a child.Its an enjoyable story that you would probably watch now and again, but like alot people here at the site has said, its logic hurts the movie quite a bit.


The film starts off good for a while, maybe a little slow for children. But I found the slowness of the film was great in order to absorb the life of Charlie and there was some casual humorous moments, for example, when Charlie and Carface were talking and Charlie kept on turning on the radio and Carface kept turing it off. Things started really getting good when Charlie,Itchy and Ann-Marie met, the three of them together provived the best entertainment of the film.And lets not forget the funny moments Carface and Killer,who's voice I could probably listen to for hours because its that freaken funny.


But this wasn't perfect film by any means, at one point Charlie went completely out of character with that song he sang to the little puppies. Another thing was that song with the fruity alligator, it was funny, but it was also total useless because it didn't really move the story along at all.And one major useless thing in the film was the factor of the watch, because it dosen't move the story along either. The only point it ever really had was to show that useless "fruity alligator" scene.

Overall, despite these quite obvious flaws, its a good movie that will entertain you.

greykitty's avatar
World Class Animation Critic
Reviews: 193

greykitty's Review

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posted: Jan 02, 2005
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I really enjoyed this movie. I don't think it's the best movie that Bluth has made, but it's one of his better ones. The characters, for the most part, were interesting, and the story was nice. It had a good moral and the animation was great. Only complaint are a couple of the songs really didn't need to be there. Otherwise a great movie overall.

lupercal's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 517

lupercal's Review

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posted: Oct 09, 2004
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Here's the usual view. Don Bluth bursts onto the scene with a masterpiece ('Secret of NIMH') then makes several good but progressively less great films, until he loses it altogether and makes a lot of junk for many years. 'All Dogs go to Heaven' is the last of the good ones before he fell over the precipice. Basically the usual view has it right.

It must have been 10 years since I'd seen ADGTH, and I remember being curiously disappointed in it. In fact for years I have gone around telling nonbelievers that the sequel is actually better (I seem to be the only person in the world except I think Leonard Maltin, who thought this). So I decided to revisit the first one and see if I still agreed with myself.

Yup. ADGTH 2 is a better movie in every department except the actual animation. But I've reviewed 2 elsewhere. Let's have a look at 1.

I find myself wanting to address all the reviews below rather than the movie, because they all make comments I want to elaborate on, but I'll try to keep to the point. Inkwolf definately has it right though when she says this could have been a great film, but something went wrong.

Well, what, exactly?

Mainly it's the editing/writing/(and I presume) storyboarding. There is a really inexplicable lack of continuity in this movie. Scenes just seem to appear without any real narrative connecting them. I was completely confused as to how Charlie ended up in the alligator scene, where exactly he was, or why the alligator suddenly behaved the way it did. That's the worst example, but there are plenty of others. Characters just stop being somewhere, and end up somewhere else. It's not quite literally that bad, but you really have to wonder how someone who made 'Secret of NIMH' could let something as crucial as this slip so badly.

The characters are good, but they're a lot more solid and worked out in the second movie. Apparently I'm the only person on Earth who thinks Charlie Sheen did a better job as Charlie than Burt Reynolds, but I do, so there. Itchy blossoms more in the sequel and TV series, too. One thing that I didn't notice the first time is that in the first movie Annabel is flirtatious and err... sexy, whereas in the sequels she's rather aloof and businesslike (aloof works better, IMO - though of course the sequel has Sasha, so no need for two possible love interests). I also think Charlie just _looks_ better in the sequel, but I suppose that's a matter of opinion.

That brings me to this point, though. The _look_ of the film. What is it about it that's... weird? At first I thought it was just Bluth's customary lush backgrounds, but no, it isn't that on second look.

Inkwolf clued me in when she complained about Anne-Marie looking Snow-Whitish (which is very astute, and absolutely correct.) I'm almost completely certain this was intentional, and it isn't just Anne-Marie. Flo, the collie, looks Snow-Whitish. She has rosy cheeks for heaven's sake. Rosy cheeks on a dog? Here's the thing. When was 'Snow White' made? 1937. When is this film set? 1939. Why? I think Bluth was deliberately trying to give ADGTH a classic early Disney feel, and I think it made the film look old-fashioned and odd.

Other characters have a distinctly early-Disney feel, too. The puppies, some of the horses, the woman, and various others. Remember this is the guy who quit Disney, with a mission to restore classical animation to its halcyon days.

A quick note. The song Charlie sings with the puppies in the 'pizza scene' (did they deliver pizza in boxes in 1939?) does make sense. It's supposed to Charlie in the process of trying to convince _himself_ that what he's telling the puppies about sharing is true. Character development. Again, this sort of thing was handled better in the sequels.

Well, what to say about this film? I'm giving it a strong 2.5 stars. It's sequel gets 3.

Close, but no cigar. I think that sums up this one.

--
One last thing. I was always bemused by how Charlie's gambling and drinking and so forth were considered too adult for a kid's film. The film's about learning to become a good guy. He has to start off a bit bad, doesn't he? The scene which actually did seem a bit strong for G to me was his 'hell' dream scene, which really was pretty nightmarish. I think they let David Lynch do that segment.

Panra's avatar
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Reviews: 12

Panra's Review

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posted: Jun 04, 2004
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The thing about All Dogs Go to Heaven, is the soul of the film. I always wanted a dog like Charlie, he was like a hero in my own eyes as a child. More than just that, but a friend.

I never came to love the beauty of the film till my elder years, around the 9th grade. I watched it on cold winter night, when I was all alone, for the first time in 7 years. When I sat down, I was bored. But by the last scene, I was bailing my eyes out, and I couldn't understand why.

The thing I get from All Dogs Go to Heaven is devotion, and love. The way Charlie cared so much for Ann Marie that he would do what he had. All Dogs Go to Heaven is the only movie I cry on everytime I watch, and I love it so. Definitly 4 stars

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