A no-good New Orleans Alsatian (Reynolds) is whacked by his adversaries and heads up to Heaven, where, he is told, he must come straight back down and collect some evidence of his good deeds if he is to be let back in.
As Disney gears up to its target of one major animation feature every year (with the success of Oliver & Company swiftly followed up by The Little Mermaid), Don Bluth's Dublin-based studio obviously has similar aims, with last year's Land Before Time closely pursued now by All Dogs Go To Heaven, the story of one Charlie B. Barkin (Burt Reynolds' Alsatian) with interests in a good deal of the vice in New Orleans, who busts out of the local pound and attempts to square the accounts with his erstwhile partner Carface Malone (pitbull). It is a complex tale, related at such a frenetic pace that many of its finer points were lost on the Empire panel of seven-year olds, but grasped by the razor-sharp ten-year old present. For the adults, of course, it was all largely a blur.
Barkin is bumped off by his less endearing adversaries and floats up to heaven where the Heavenly Whippet informs him that entry is out of the question unless he can come up with some evidence of his good deeds on earth. He pinches the heavenly clock which ticks out his fate and zooms back to the Big Easy where he discovers that his associates are making fortunes on the horses thanks to the services of a Shirley Temple sort who can talk to animals.
The plot then revolves around the twin themes of Gambling and Time, subjects which can boggle the most agile mind, adult or child, as it's hard to understand the dramatic importance of a fixed horse race unless you grasp the basic concept of gambling. Dazzling though the execution of the animation may from time-to-time be, it seems unnecessary to set so much of this straightforward story of the good, the bad and the redeemed in a world that many young children can simply get no handle on.
A film that feels as under pressure as it's poor protagonist. Whilst looking good, it lacks a well-thought out strategy.