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Shared Darkness

A Communal Life in Film, Examined

All Dogs Go To Heaven 1 & 2

The lingering implication of the post-worldly fate of felines in these two titles notwithstanding, All Dogs Go To Heaven
and its shaggy follow-up stand as estimable entries in the canon of
genial animated animal flicks
. A new double-disc DVD presentation,
meanwhile, affords parents the chance to double down and stretch their
entertainment dollar, purchasing or renting both titles in one swoop.

The
first movie, from 1989, actually takes as its premise something a
little twisted and off-center, telling the story of Charlie B. Barkin
(voiced by Burt Reynolds), a mischievous, pre-World War II, New Orleans
“gangster” dog double-crossed by his business partner, Carface Malone
(voiced by Vic Tayback). On his way to heaven, he instead discovers how
to get back to Earth, and so he plots to extract his revenge. Once back
on terra firma, however, Charlie is taken in by a little orphan
girl named Anne-Marie (voiced by Judith Barsi), who, along with his old
pal Itchy (voiced by Dom DeLuise), teaches him about the healing power
of love and affection, something he apparently didn’t pick up from hair
band Nelson’s stirring power ballad. Co-written and directed by Don
Bluth (The Secret of Nimh), the movie is adroitly animated, and helped kick-start the animation renaissance of the late 1980s.

The 1996 straight-to-video sequel, co-helmed by Paul Sabella and
Larry Leker, finds lovable scamp Charlie (this time voiced by Charlie
Sheen, in a bit of spot-on voice casting) discovering that the
afterlife isn’t all he thought it would be. After Gabriel’s Horn is
stolen from heaven, he and Itchy are dispatched to retrieve it, where
they run into Carface (this time voiced by Ernest Borgnine), a demonic
cat named Red (voiced by George Hearn) and, as Charlie’s love interest,
a flip-haired Irish setter named Sasha LaFleur (voiced by Sheena
Easton). The tunes from Grammy winners Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (An American Tale)
don’t quite match the original work of Charles Strouse and T.J.
Kuenster
(there’s not the kitsch value, either, of Burt Reynolds
teaming up with DeLuise and Loni Anderson), but the story here is
actually a bit deeper and more engaging, even if the animation is
somewhat downsized.

Housed in a matching pair of slimline cases in a cardboard slipcase, neither disc comes with any sort of real extras. All Dogs Go To Heaven
includes the original theatrical trailer, but that’s it. Both movies
are presented in 1.33:1 full screen, with optional French and Spanish
subtitles. A French language Dolby surround track stands alongside the
English Dolby surround sound mix on the original movie; the sequel
features an English 5.1 Dolby surround mix, as well as French and
Spanish Dolby surround mixes. C+ (Movies) D (Disc)