Although some of Don Bluth’s projects contain an overall softness, a few are filled with more darkness than light. For example, take the mixed bag that is “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” a movie that, while visually fascinating, is downright horrifying. When your film centers on a criminal dog trying to escape hell while simultaneously involving an orphaned little girl in a play circle, let’s just say it’s hard to feel any warmth towards its narrative.
That’s not helped by the entire movie consisting of mostly unlikable characters. Charlie, our lead dog (voiced by Burt Reynolds), has about as much charm as a cold meal at Applebees. Yes, Reynolds provides some tender moments during the film’s emotional conclusion, but before the finale there’s plenty of evidence to make it easy to wish Charlie down. Plus, Dom Deluise’s Itchy is more of a jerk than a lovable sidekick, Vic Tayback’s Carface is absolute nightmare fuel, while Loni Anderson’s Flo is the film’s only sensitive character.
Despite the movie’s treasure trove of annoyances, it’s hard to deny the effort and creativity that Bluth and his team put into the project. Some shots are stunning, while specific scenes (like the iconic Alligator moment) deserve a place in animation history. It’s just a shame that these elements are paired with such a frustrating story and some of the worst music in Bluth’s filmography.