When it comes to animated movies, there are tiers and mostly a person knows what to expect when they walk in. Movies from companies like Pixar, Disney, Aardman, and Laika are on the upper tier and rarely release a bad movie. The next tier are movies from companies like Illumination, Blue Sky, and DreamWorks, which produces good quality movies but not quite up to the level of the best of the animated films.
Then, there are movies from companies like Sony and Summit, which releases animated movies that rarely move above average and many fall into the “good for kids, not for parents” category. Movies in this category include titles like The Nut Job, Norm of the North, and Storks. They aren’t horrible movies but they are nothing that a parent wants to see more than once, even though kids demand them play on repeat.
Add Rock Dog to that list. The movie is better than Norm of the North, although it is the same premise as a fish out of water story. Basically, Bodi (Luke Wilson) is a Mastiff whose father Linnux (J.K. Simmons) was a hero that saved the sheep of Snow Mountain from a wolf attack using his Iron Paw magical blast (it comes when a Masatif finds their fire). Linnux has banned music from the village because he wants everyone to be ready to stand up to protect the village from another attack.
He also wants Bodi to groom to take his place as the protector of Snow Mountain.
That isn’t likely because Bodi is a slacker who doesn’t have the fire. He also loves music, and when a crate falls from a plane and he gets his hands on a radio, he learns about rock music and the iconic rock musician Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard). He decides he wants to be a musician and wants to leave the village to find his fame.
Thanks to the narrator, a yak (Sam Elliott), his father agrees to let him go. However, once Bodi is gone, the wolves decide it is time they attacked once again and realize that taking Bodi will give them the edge.
At the end of the day, this is a tale of finding oneself, as Bodi has to learn who he is and it is when he finds his calling that he can finally find his fire. There is also plenty of room for Angus to find himself and Bodi’s dad to learn what is best for him is not always what is best for his son.
Yeah, it’s pretty generic.
The movie is also pretty laborious to get to that point. Angus is a very unlikeable character and the scene where he decides to do the right thing comes across and plotted and fake and never feels natural. The scene with Linnux discovering his son’s special abilities is also just thrown in there and he does nothing to deserve the change of heart. It is all just something that happens because the script says it should happen.
Seriously, nothing in this movie really happens naturally and that makes the entire thing feel plastic and fake.
The wolf pack, which is an organized mob group (maybe a play on the Rat Pack), is funny at points but it is just there to add some gags down the line and present the main villain. However, the end of the movie when Bodi finds his fire sees all the tension die and everyone seem to decide to live in peace – which made absolutely no sense whatsoever outside of a lame “music will cure all” attitude.
Rock Dog is a very forgettable animated movie in an era where some of the best films are animated. Sadly, my son loved it so much that he will probably demand to buy it on DVD and watch it over and over again. To me, that is the worst news of all.