The first thing I noticed about Don Bluth's "All Dogs Go to Heaven" were the colors - the rich, saturated colors that I identify with the early days of animated features. When Technicolor shut down its classic color operation and led the movie world to an inferior but cheaper system, animated films suffered more than live-action movies, because their bright primary colors were essential to their over-all effect. Most movies made from the early 1960s to the late 1970s have suffered serious fading, but the animated movies looked a little pale even to begin with.
Now Technicolor is back with an improved color system, and in "All Dogs Go to Heaven" it permits such a voluptuous use of color that the movie is an invigorating bath for the eyes. The bright palette is used to paint animated characters who are also a treat, because in his latest animated feature, Don Bluth has allowed his characters to look and behave a little more strangely. There is a lot of individualism in this movie, both in the filmmaking and in the characters.
Bluth is the former Disney animator who led a group of artists away from the studio during its doldrums in 1979 and set up his own animation operation. His feature credits so far include "The Secret of NIMH," the dinosaur adventure "The Land Beyond Time," and "An American Tail," the story of an immigrant mouse that set box office records for an animated film. Now here he is with a fantasy about canine low-life in New Orleans.
The movie involves the adventures of Charlie B. Barkin (who not only has the voice of Burt Reynolds but even some of the mannerisms). Barkin is a professional criminal who has teamed up in the past with a pit bull named Carface, but Carface has Barkin rubbed out and he finds himself in Heaven, which should not be a surprise if he has read the title of his movie. Bent on revenge, Barkin returns to Earth, and the main story of the movie begins as he makes friends with a little girl who has an amazing knack for predicting winners at the track.