All Dogs Go to Heaven
All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 animated fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Don Bluth and distributed by United Artists in the United States, and The Rank Organization in the United Kingdom. It was a American, British and Irish venture created by Goldcrest Films and Sullivan Bluth Studios.
Canine casino owner Charlie (Burt Reynolds) is killed by gambler Carface (Vic Tayback), but returns to Earth from heaven thanks to the powers of a magical, rewindable watch. Charlie sets out to take his revenge on Carface by means of an elaborate plan that involves an orphan girl, Anne-Marie. But as the plan progresses, Charlie discovers that Anne-Marie is being exploited by Carface. Charlie must decide whether to change his mission from one of revenge to one of rescue.
Why It Rocks
- The animation is nice to look at, considering the fact that this is one of the last major cel-animated films.
- Great voice-acting, especially from Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise and Judith Barsi (in her last film role before she was shot to death by her own father).
- Nicely-written songs, an example being 'Can't Keep a Good Dog Down'.
- It has a message; don't be a greedy robber.
- King Gator is very funny and became a well-deserved meme.
- "Welcome... to being dead".
- The idea of dogs as gamblers is interesting.
- Charlie has one of the best personalities of being a likable jerk.
- A heartwarming ending scene.
- The sequels and TV series aren't as good, ranging from decent to just plain bad.
- The hellhound scene might give young viewers nightmares.
- It was a only mild box office hit because it was released on the same day as The Little Mermaid.
- This film is probably a parody of the movie trope wherein a dog dies at the end (example; Old Yeller).
- Many dog people have stated this to be their favorite Don Bluth film.
All Dogs Go to Heaven received mixed reviews from critics, maintaining a 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 11 reviews, and a 50 out of 100 score from Metacritic. Reviewers often drew unfavorable comparisons to The Little Mermaid, criticizing the disjointed narrative, the quality of the animation, and the songs by Charlie Strouse and T.J. Kuenster. The film received a "thumbs down" from Gene Siskel and a "thumbs up" from Roger Ebert on a 1989 episode of their television program At the Movies. While Siskel found it to be "surprisingly weak" given director Don Bluth's previous works, due largely to its "confusing story" and "needlessly violent" scenes, Ebert was a huge fan of the movie's "rubbery and kind of flexible" animation, stating he felt it was a good film despite not being an "animated classic".
Some also found the darker subject material objectionable in a family film, given the film's depictions of death, violence, drinking, smoking, gambling, murder, demons, and images of Hell. Other reviews were mostly positive, with critics praising the film's emotional qualities, humor, and vibrant color palette. Roger Ebert, who was unimpressed with Bluth's previous film An American Tail, gave it three out of four stars, remarking that the animation "permits such a voluptuous use of color that the movie is an invigorating bath for the eyes," and that although he preferred The Little Mermaid, which opened on the same day, he still found Dogs to be "bright and inventive." However, film critic Leonard Maltin gave it one-and-a-half out of four stars, due to "unappealing characters, confusing storytelling, and forgettable songs."