Thursday, March 9, 2017

Movie Review: "Rock Dog" (2017)

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Movie"Rock Dog"
Director: Ash Brannon
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

A young Tibetan Mastiff named Bodi is supposed to follow in his father's footsteps and guard his village of sheep against the threat of potential wolf attacks. Bodi, however, has a different dream: to be a rock musician.

"Rock Dog" is directed by Ash Brannon, who directed "Surf's Up" and is a co-director of "Toy Story 2. " This animated feature has been adapted from the graphic novel "Tibetan Rock Dog" by Zheng Jun. It stars the voices of Luke Wilson, J.K. Simmons, Eddie Izzard, Sam Elliot, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, and Matt Dillon. It follows a young Tibetan Mastiff dog named Bodi, voiced by Wilson, who wants to be a rock star instead of being his town's sheep guarder. This notion comes after a magical music box, aka radio, falls out of the sky and lands right where he's walking, the day he first discovered rock 'n' roll. Bodi leaves his home on Snow Mountain and heads to the city to become a rock star. Eventually, he seeks out rock legend Angus Scattergood, voiced by Izzard, who is having a bit of writer's block when it comes to his latest single, which was supposed to be turned in a long time ago to his record label.

This project is a Chinese funded film and was released there in July 2016 to an underwhelming reception. The same can be said about its reception in the states this year. As of the day we are writing this review, the film has earned a mere $15.3 million on a $60 million dollar budget. Yikes. We can sort of understand why because when we saw its trailer several months ago, we thought it looked awful, this year's "Norm of the North," even. The animation looks like something you would see in a straight to DVD or made for television type of film, Saturday morning cartoon-lite. Needless to say, we feared the worst going into "Rock Dog." Once we sat down and actually watched the movie, it turns out it isn't the massive trainwreck we were expecting. Sure, the animation is still mediocre, but there is a bit of charm to the story and we get some decent performances from the voice cast, namely J.K. Simmons, Eddie Izzard, and Sam Elliot. It's sort of a sweet story about a cute Tibetan Mastiff...
...wait wait wait, not that one...
This one! See? He's friendly! He is just trying to follow his dream and ignite his inner fire with music, man! It's got a little "Kubo and the Two Strings," a dash of "Sing," a spoonful of "Hop," and a skosh of "Kung Fu Panda" all rolled into one. This isn't an amazing film by any means, but it's at least enjoyable at times. It's even a little, and we mean little, funny, when it travels into some more thematically mature instances of humor. In the end, we didn't hate "Rock Dog," and while we're clearly not its target audience, small children and babies might actually enjoy it.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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