Dec 4, 2014

Review: An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)

With An All Dogs Christmas Carol, MGM was willing to sink to new levels in order to get an easy Christmas-themed direct-to-video out there. The original All Dogs Go to Heaven was flawed in its attempts at trying to be a Disney animated movie, but it did succeed in creating a dark and seedy world for its characters. A lot of what happened in ADGTH wasn't even suitable for kids, but that's where its charm lies.

With MGM taking over production of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, you could really tell that they were going for a more straightforward kids movie. Losing Burt Reynolds was huge though and in no way is Charlie Sheen able to replace him. There are a lot of other things that were wrong with this sequel and An All Dogs Christmas Carol just makes things worse.


Genre: animation, comedy, family
Directed by: Paul Sabella, Gary Selvaggio
Produced by: Jonathan Dern, Paul Sabella, Jymn Magon, etc.
Written by: Jymn Magon
Music by: Mark Watters
Running time: 73 minutes
Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation
Distributed by: MGM Family Entertainment, MGM/UA Home Entertainment, Warner Home Vídeo
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Steven Weber, Dom DeLuise, Sheena Easton, Charles Nelson Reilly, Bebe Neuwirth, Beth Anderson, Taylor Epperson, Dee Bradley Baker, Amick Byram, Ashley Tisdale, Chris Marquette, Susan Boyd, Myles Jeffrey, Vanessa Vandergriff, Jon Joyce, Carlos Alazraqui



It's Christmas Eve and Charlie B. Barkin (voice: Steven Weber), Itchy Itchiford (voice: Dom DeLuise) and Sasha La Fleur (voice: Sheena Easton) are hanging out with some strays and puppies. They're having fun singing songs and decorating for Christmas. That's before Carface Caruthers (voice: Ernest Borgnine) and his sidekick Killer (voice: Charles Nelson Reilly) make their appearance, demanding for payment on past loans. No one is really coming forward, so Carface pulls out a magical dog whistle that puts everyone into a temporary zombie mode that makes them give him what they have freely. With nothing left and Christmas on the verge of being ruined, Charlie and Itchy set out to take back what's theirs.


An All Dogs Christmas Carol, the formula is changed and Carface has become the main character. That wouldn't have been a bad thing if we were getting the Carface from the original ADGTH, but that's not what we have here. Ernest Borgnine probably could give a good and threatening voice acting performance if he wanted to. He didn't in ADGTH2 and he clearly doesn't this time either. Anyway, I don't think Paul Sabella or Gary Selvaggio were really looking for quality. Borgnine is just here to provide his name.

It becomes pretty clear that AADCC has been neutered even more than ADGTH2 was. There are a lot of the same problems like an overabundance of slapstick for example, but the main villain who is revealed later on is far weaker than Red the devil cat was from ADGTH2. Belladonna (voice: Bebe Neuwirth) is completely uninteresting and unmemorable. Know what her goal is? To ruin Christmas. That's it, she's just so evil that she wants to ruin Christmas for everyone. What a meanie right?

Like the title says, this is a re-telling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's tacked on pretty roughly though and has to rely on magic to make it work. Charlie, Itchy and Sasha become the three ghosts that try to change Carface's ways. This is where those 70 minutes really stretch the story out. 

The songs at two of the three intervals are meant to carry the story onwards but fail in that regard. Kids don't want character development anyway right? They just want songs. There really isn't enough time dedicated to showing the conflict going on inside Carface and the songs aren't even very good anyway.

Although I don't have any budget information anywhere, An All Dogs Christmas Carol painfully limps like poor little Timmy the puppy (voice: Taylor Epperson) on his broken leg. The animation is very poor and struggles to do simple things like matching spoken dialogue. Jymn Magon hardly puts any effort into his spiritless script and pretty much all his jokes fall flat. He just seems content to try and emulate Looney Tunes' zany physical comedy with lots of dogs and objects falling down.

MGM pretty much already destroyed any goodwill that All Dogs Go to Heaven had when they made number two. What did they have to lose with this one? It wasn't an expensive investment and they must have already had Ernest Borgnine, Dom DeLuise and Sheena Easton under contract for another sequel. That's the likeliest explanation because I don't really understand why they'd have signed on to do another movie that was content in riding the coattails of Don Bluth's work.

Also, last thing. (Spoilers) Didn't Itchy go back up to heaven at the end of All Dogs Go to Heave 2? Maybe Anabelle (voice: Bebe Neuwirth) decided to just send him back to Earth so he could be with his buddy Charlie. (End Spoilers) I don't know and I guess I don't really care either. 



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