Rock Dog Sings a Familiar Tune
For the Tibetan Mastiffs on Snow Mountain, a dog’s life is a bit on the ruff side: It is their solemn duty to guard a peaceful village of wool-making sheep from the wicked wolf Linnux (Lewis Black) and his powerful pack of goons. In order to avoid distractions from this single-minded task, Mastiff leader Khampa (J.K. Simmons) forbids all music. But when his son Bodi (Luke Wilson) discovers a radio dropped by a passing airplane, it takes just a few guitar licks to turn his shaggy head. That’s it: Bodi wants to be a rock and roll star. That means defying his father, heading to the big, bright city lights, and putting together a band.
Along the way, the wide-eyed country pooch meets Fleetwood Yak (Sam Elliott) and exalted rock-god Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard). Angus’ mansion’s extreme security features are a comic high point of the film and they keep you wondering if Bodi will ever make it past the formidable front door. But if Bodi can conjure up a band, help Angus write a hit song, and defeat the wolf-plot to take Snow Mountain, his life will be totally in tune.
The scenes set in the city (a New York like metropolis) are the most fun, and make for nice contrast against the majestic beauty of the snowy Tibetan peaks and valleys. When young Bodi first arrives, guitar strapped to his back, he tours the teeming “rock and roll park” where he sees all kinds of bands performing – from punk piggies, to smooth-jazz swamp creatures. There’s just one band that seems at loose-ends: a duo made up of a sheep on the skins, and a red fox on bass… all they need is a lead guitarist and singer, it seems.
Rock Dog is based on a Chinese graphic novel called Tibetan Rock Dog by Zheng Jun. It hits theaters in the wake of the massive animated hit Sing, another cartoon that mixes anthropomorphic animals and catchy tunes. This coincidence could go either way – it might fill the void for those who want to see more of the same, or Rock Dog might be unfavorably compared to its box-office leader. Overall, it’s an amusing flick on its own merits. Director Ash Brannon (who brought us Toy Story 2) presents a balanced blend of music, adventure and comedy. Beyond Sing, Rock Dog actually shares a more similar theme to Zootopia: follow your dreams no matter of the odds.
The animation is simple and its story lines are clear, which makes it perfect for 10-and-younger kids. That’s not to say parents will be bored, but there isn’t the same subtext as, say, The LEGO Batman Movie. Overall, Rock Dog provides adequate entertainment throughout its 88-minute run time.
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Tags : movies film