Published on June 16th, 2017 | by voxx0
Out: 16 June
Length: 90 minutes
Director: Ash Brannon
Cast: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K Simmons, Lewis Black, Mae Whitman, Matt Dillon
Plot: When a radio falls into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff (Wilson), he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician.
At one point in Chinese-American animation ‘Rock Dog’,our protagonist meets with a scrawny English cat (Izzard) who treats him to new tricks about Rock and Roll – an obvious nod to ‘Rock of Ages’, which had an insane Russell Brand teach an inspired individual about the traits of the music world. The cat too is insane here but he doesn’t hit the correct notes; in fact none of the characters in this outwardly unoriginal animation do. In a genre when directors are supposed to be their most creative, this is perhaps the least creative ever.
We open with teenage Tibetan Mastiff, Bodi (Wilson), living under the shadow of his father, Khampa (Simmons), who has banned music around the town and wants his son to follow in his footsteps to become a guard. Bodi thinks there is more to life than being a guard though, and he unlocks a magical gift with music. When a radio lands on his head and he sees a whole other world to meet with his idol, he goes to New York to perhaps perform with him. Along the way the film hits familiar notes, with a pack of Godfather inspired wolves who want to attack his city, a Yak named Fleetwood Yak (Sam Elliott), who teaches Bodi that he has a gift, and finally there’s a point when the famous rock-star takes all the credit. It’s been done.
Iit follows along the same lines as artsy animations such as ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ or perhaps ‘Coraline’, but due to the lackluster ideas of overused techniques this quickly descends into unoriginality. This is a shame, especially since it has Pixar veteran director Ash Brannon helming the ship. In addition it also has eight writers, but it seems here they only wrote a couple of lines of characterization for each character, while the rest is clunky dialogue. On the bright side there are couple of gags, mostly from Izzard’s scrawny cat who falls over himself a lot and the sheep that dress up as dogs to fool the wolves.
Brannon neither makes this funny nor imaginative and in an animation that’s the latter, there are so many references too that it’s hard to follow which you’re watching. ‘Rock Dog’ is a cheaply looking inspired list of ideas, references, uneasy dialogue and unfunny gags. It’s albeit a rushed Chinese-American animation that fails to make one correct guitar lick into being memorable and hilarious.
VERDICT: An unpleasant and unremarkable animated comedy which ties tired visuals with a thin plot and a characterless drive. It’s one guitar lick too far away from memorable too.
- By Corey Denford