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Oh, Did You Think You Were Going to Get Through the Day Without Reading About ‘Rock Dog’?

By Rebecca Pahle | Film | February 27, 2017 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Film | February 27, 2017 |

So this movie came out last weekend. Called Rock Dog. About a dog who wants to be a rock. Or a rock who wants to be a dog. Or something. You don’t care about it. Nobody cares about it. It’s fucking Redox-level animation bullshit that we wouldn’t normally review, but TK assigned it to me anyway BECAUSE HE IS AN ASSHOLE. Look at this shit:

At one point Benevolent Overlord Dustin told me “Rebecca, seriously, you don’t actually have to watch Rock Dog,” but I got up early on a Saturday morning to see it anyway, because my mother did not raise me to back down when confronted by punk-ass weenies with bad taste in movies, so here I am.

No, she raised me to be a masochist, apparently.

So I saw Rock Dog. And it’s… wait for it…


Not cataclysmically bad, mind you. In the last few months I reviewed A Dog’s Purpose, Fifty Shades Darker, The Bye Bye Man, Rings, and Collateral Beauty, and that’s a pretty low bar. No, Rock Dog is more just dull, a dullness brought about by making the most obvious, cliched choices at nearly every possible turn.

There’s a scene in this movie where starry-eyed pup Bodi (Luke Wilson) finally ventures from his small hometown to the big city in pursuit of rock stardom. The song playing? The Foo Fighter’s “Learn to Fly.”

Rock Dog ruined the Foo Fighters for me.

Bodi’s aforementioned town is a little place called “Snow Mountain,” which is inhabited by a bunch of sheep, a hippie yak named “Fleetwood Yak” (Sam Elliott voices him… OK, movie, it’s a bit on the nose but I’ll give it to you) and Bodi’s father Khampa (J.K. Simmons), a guard dog tasked with protecting his flock from the neighboring wolves. Bodi’s supposed to follow in his father’s footsteps, but in his heart, all he wants to do is be a musician. Rock Dog is two steps away from a “But guarding the flock is your dream!”/”No, dad… it’s yours” at any given time.

Once Bodi’s made his way to the neighboring city—a bustling metropolis filled with all sorts of anthropomorphized animals, Zootopia-style, which just makes you wish you were watching Zootopia again—he falls in with feline rock legend Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard), who’s been suffering from a wicked case of writer’s block. Here’s where I have to give director Ash Brannon some credit: There are some good sight gags involving the reclusive, selfish, hard-living Angus’ mansion. Far be it from me to begrudge any movie a robot butler or giant robot mice that patrol a retractable garden maze. And Izzard does a good job here. But for every “hey, that’s actually pretty fun” moment, there are five others that make you want to fall asleep.

There are two separate “giant pane of glass” gags here. Two.

It’s hard to get too worked up about Rock Dog, because it’s a whole bunch of trope-filled, half-baked nothing. The lead wolf, a mob boss voiced by Lewis Black (…obviously) has his two bumbling henchmen, voiced by Matt Dillon and an over-the-top Kenan Thompson. There’s The Girl, a guitarist fox whom Bodi strikes up a tentative friendship with. It’s a pointless character that gives actress Mae Whitman nothing to do; it’s very clear the writers shoehorned her in because they realized all their other characters are dudes, but stopped short of giving her a personality beyond “nice.”

All the expected plot beats are hit—Bodi’s starry-eyed wholesomeness brings the selfish Angus around, after which Bodi uses the power of music to save his village and earn the respect of his father. Bodi is sweet, stupid, naive, and incredibly gullible, which is great for a pet dog but pretty obnoxious when you’re talking about the main character of a film. Some of the landscape shots are legitimately gorgeous, but the character animation looks like something a first-year animation student cooked up.

One of the sheep is, for some reason, obsessed with taking showers. Every time the movie cuts away to him, he’s either in the shower or sporting a towel and showercap. I have no idea why Rock Dog thinks this is funny. “Carl! You are a sheep who takes too many showers! Why do you take so many showers, Carl? You are a sheep!” But it strikes a note of surreality that gives Rock Dog a good half of its rare, fleeting moments of charm.


Everything else can go take a hike.

Jorge Garcia from Lost plays a stoner llama.

I need to lie down.

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