out of five
Adapted from the graphic novel Tibetan Rock Dog, this Chinese co-produced CGI comedy will charm youngsters, but may have too few new tricks to win over adults.
The film follows the exploits of Bodi (voiced by Luke Wilson), who is training to follow in the footsteps of his father Khampa (voice of J.K. Simmons) as the guard dog of Snow Mountain. But one day, Bodi stumbles upon a misplaced radio and becomes a big fan of rock music and legendary musician Angus Scattergood (voice of Eddie Izzard). After getting into some trouble, Khampa finally lets Bodi make a trip to a nearby city to take one last chance to realize his musical ambitions.
Bodi’s trip to the city turns into one gigantic misadventure, as he gets to meet his idol Scattergood (much to the latter’s reluctance), becomes friends with guitarist Darma (voice of Mae Whitman) and drummer Germur (voice of Jorge Garcia), and contends with his father’s nemesis, the gangster wolf Linnux (voice of Lewis Black) and his henchmen.
Rock Dog is certainly a fine movie for children, with charming visuals and a nice message about self-expression. For adults, however, it may seem too derivative of other animated films. The Snow Mountain scenes feel like warmed-over leftovers from the Kung Fu Panda films, and the big city occupied by assorted anthropomorphic animals calls to mind the recent Disney hit Zootopia. But there are some bright spots. The voice cast, comprised of many familiar faces, performs their roles very well. The direction of Ash Brannon (Toy Story 2, Surf’s Up) and animation by Reel FX (Free Birds, The Book of Life), while not quite as refined as the recent films of Disney and Pixar, is perfectly serviceable.
While not likely to hold the attention of adults or animation enthusiasts, Rock Dog is a perfectly suitable film for children. So, for families looking for a movie to take their kids to, this dog is a perfect specimen.
Note: John is an expert on graphic novels and will be reviewing the upcoming “Wilson.”