Release Date: Feb. 24, 2017
Running Time: 80 minutes
Give a dog a guitar and let there be rock. That’s the premise behind Rock Dog, an animated easy-on-the-ears music-driven comedy from Ash Bannon, the co-director of Toy Story 2 and Surf’s Up. Based on the Chinese graphic novel “Tibetan Rock Dog,” the budding superstar in question is the Luke Wilson-voiced Bodi. He’s a village sheepdog with big city dreams of fame and fortune. When a guitar falls from an airplane and lands in a field a few feet in front of Bodi, the Tibetan Mastiff begins his quest to become a rock star à la his idol, the Eddie Izzard-voiced Angus Scattergood. Angus is a cat, and as we well know, cats and dogs do not get along. A reclusive eccentric suffering from songwriter’s block, Angus wants nothing to do with Bodi—until he decides to steal one of Bodi’s songs and record it as his long-awaited comeback single. Meanwhile, with Bodi no longer guarding the sheep of Snow Mountain, a pack of wolves plot to attack the village and devour Bodi’s woolly pals. This cross between Kung Fu Panda and School of Rock, minus the presence of Jack Black, moves at an amiable pace that should keep kids occupied and parents humming along to the hummable original pop songs and classic alt-rock hits that comprised the soundtrack. The action in and around Snow Mountain is carried out in serviceable fashion, while Bodi’s interactions with Angus are moderately amusing. Director Ash Bannon doesn’t push the envelope when it comes to Rock Dog’s look—it’s as visually pleasing but unambitious as most cheaply produced computer-animated TV shows to be found on Netflix or basic cable. With the exception of Eddie Izzard, the voice cast seems to be selected from random with no regards to whether they would inject their respective character with color and personality. As Bodi, Luke Wilson doesn’t bring much energy or excitement to an determined canine with rock-star aspirations. A bored J.K. Simmons continues to exploit his Oscar win as Bodi’s overprotective father and the village’s guard, Khampas. Sam Elliott, as the village’s wise old yak, does his patented “Zen cowboy” thing once again. Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia and Matt Dillon collect paychecks for a few minutes of work. Izzard, though, captures the ego, narcissism and entitlement of a burnt-out rock icon with ease, delight and exhilaration. His Angus is an idol rocking out amongst mere animals.
Aired: Feb. 23, 2017
Web site: http://www.rockdogmovie.com