Based on the graphic novel ‘Tibetan Rock Dog’, yes really, apparently that’s a thing, comes Rock Dog from Altitude, does it Rock, or smell like a wet dog?
Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde, The Royal Tenenbaums) voices Bodi, a mastiff who is unwilling to follow in his father, J. K. Simmons (Whiplash, Spider-Man), Khampa’s footsteps as guardian of the sheep in the village they live.
Instead, Bodi wants to play guitar in a band, be a rock star just like Angus Scattergood, Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Twelve, Valkyrie), a famous rock, cat in the big city.
When Fleetwood Yak (I promise I’m not making these names up), Sam Elliot (Hulk, Tombstone), convinces Khampa to let Bodi try to do his own thing, he hops on a bus and heads to find fame and fortune.
However, a group of wolves is hot on Bodi’s tale, intent on kidnapping him so they can get close to the village of sheep and, well, have a feast. Lewis Black (The Daily Show (TV), Inside Out), Kenan Thompson (Kenan & Kel (TV), Good Burger), voice the wolves.
Bodi does manage to find some friends in the form of a bass player and drummer, voiced by Mae Whitman (Independence Day, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TV)) and Jorge Garcia (Lost, The Wedding Ringer), along with their arrogant guitar player, voiced by Matt Dillon (Crash, There’s Something About Mary).
The trials and tribulations of Bodi, a fish-out-of-water in the big city, play out as he gets to meet his hero, Angus but must head back to his home town to stop the wolves having their feast.
Rock Dog zips along at a fine pace with a running time of just 90 minutes. It’s bright and colourful with plenty of fluffy animals for your little ones.
We don’t get much in the way of rock per-say. There’s a brief stab at some Foo Fighters, a few guitars being shredded, but otherwise the music is more the softer side of rock, verging on indie.
The animation is ok, it won’t set the world on fire but it’s far from the worst I’ve seen either. Wilson and Simmons do well and Elliot is great as the narrator, I could listen to his deep voice all day.
The star of the show though, the dogs…well, the cats whiskers, is Eddie Izzard. I’m not sure how much of his performance was scripted versus him riffing but there are wonderful little asides when he’s said his main lines, small embellishments that give Angus a lot of character.
There are a few laughs to be had throughout, but not many. The story can come across a little cloying at times, as can a few of the characters, though the sheep are quite fun.
The biggest issue with Rock Dog though is that we’ve seen it all before and we’ve seen it done better. At its heart this is a story about someone who wants bigger and better things than the small village they live in, how many times have we seen that?
The setup isn’t bad but it becomes blindingly obvious how the rest of the story will pan-out without you even thinking about it.
I was also surprised that, despite this being a mostly Chinese backed film and given the source material, the cast is not. Nor is the director, Ash Brannon (Toy Story 2, Surf’s Up), or any of the nine (yes nine!) writers.
I’m sure kids will like it, just don’t expect much from it yourself.
As for the DVD, well, you don’t get much, in fact you don’t get anything. Other than the trailer and the film there where no extras at all. Which is a shame, it would have been fun to see Eddie Izzard recording his part.