All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)

Itchy (left) and Charlie (right) from All Dog Go to Heaven

  Don Bluth has been attributed with a number of outstanding animated films, some more successful at the box office than others, but always entertaining for the young and young at heart. His 1989 film All Dogs Go to Heaven is no exception. This movie was produced in Dublin, Ireland and released in the U.S. and gained enough popularity to spur a sequel, a television series and a direct to video holiday film.

 The story revolves around a stray German Shepard named Charlie (voice of Burt Reynolds) who leads a carefree life on the streets of New Orleans. A plot to kill him sends Charlie to heaven where he cheats death by taking his ‘life watch’. Charlie comes back to Earth and with the help of his friend, Itchy the daschund (voice of Dom DeLuise), and an orphan girl named Ann Marie, plot revenge on the dog who had Charlie killed. This isn’t the only film by Bluth that handles the subject of Death (The Land Before Time, Rock A Doodle) and his sensitivity to the subject brings it to light in a way that makes it more a learning experience for a young child rather than something to frighten them-an almost magical quality to it.

 The colorful backgrounds and lively characters are of the high standard work I have come to expect from Bluth Studios-never disappointed. The voice talents for this film include Melba Moore as a whippet dog angel,  Loni Anderson as one of Charlie’s friends, Charles Nelson Reilly and the gruff voiced Vic Tayback as the thug dog Carface. As with most films honed into sequels, the original is the best and this is no exception. This is an entertaining film for kids of all ages and although the storyline does deal with serious subject matter, the writing handles it in a unique and non-frightening manner for children.

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