Naive but enthusiastic Bodi (Luke Wilson), asks rock legend Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) for guitar lessons in the animated family movie "Rock Dog."Lionsgate
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A radio dropped by a passing airplane disrupts the way of life in an isolated Tibetan village in the cute family comedy "Rock Dog."
Like the Oscar-nominated animated movie "Zootopia," this Chinese-American animated film takes place in an all-animal world. In "Rock Dog," Bodi (voice of Luke Wilson) and his father, Khampa (J.K. Simmons) - a pair of Tibetan mastiff dogs - protect the sheep in their village from being eaten by gangster-like wolves.
Khampa wishes that Bodi took his role of protector more seriously, but Bodi's true love is music. When a passing airplane accidentally drops a radio into the village, Bodi's ears are opened to sounds he's never heard before.
Via the radio, Bodi learns about a nearby city where musicians play music in a park. The city also is home to legendary guitarist (and cat) Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard), who is struggling against writer's block to write a hit song in order to meet his record label's demands.REVIEW
Who: With voices of Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons and Lewis Black. Directed by Ash Brannon.
Rated: PG (for action and language).
Running time: 80 minutes.
When: Opens Friday.
Where: Area theaters.
Naive but enthusiastic Bodi leaves his village for the first time and goes to the city hoping to ask Angus Scattergood for guitar lessons. You can imagine how well this plan goes, but Angus and Bodi wind up helping each other in ways they never could have predicted.
While in the city, Bodi is chased by sheep-eating wolves who want to uncover a weakness in the village's defenses. Bodi finds allies in a bass guitar-playing fox named Darma (Mae Whitman) and her spaced-out goat drummer Germur (Jorge Garcia, "Hawaii Five-O").
"Rock Dog's" humorous riffs on the rock 'n' roll lifestyle will likely sail over kids' heads, but their parents will appreciate little inside jokes such as Angus' sprawling mansion complete with a room hung floor to ceiling with guitars. Don't worry, Mom and Dad - the less savory aspects of the rock-god lifestyle aren't mentioned here.
Angus' scenes are the most enjoyable part of "Rock Dog." He's the ultimate cool cat, with an ultra-skinny body and dark shades, and Izzard - who is a stand-up comedian -- lays the British accent on thick to make every line funny. Izzard currently is heard as the voice of Lord Voldemort in "The Lego Batman Movie."
Yet, the movie musters only a few chuckles, and there isn't enough action to hold the attention of squirmy kids.
"Rock Dog" is filled with gorgeous images of a snowy Tibetan village and the neon-flavored skyscrapers in the city -- vibrant imagery that comes from the film's origins as a Chinese graphic novel. An impressionistic sequence perfectly conveys Bodi's emotions in visual form when he first hears opera, rock and country music pouring from his radio.
The movie was helmed by seasoned director Ash Brannon, who has worked on Pixar Animation Studios ("Toy Story," "Toy Story 2"), DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures Animation movies.
"Rock Dog's" optimism and follow-your-dreams themes make it a sure bet for family entertainment.
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