‘Rock Dog’ Review Roundup: Chinese/American Mash-Up Fails To Rock
Rock Dog is the latest collaborative film from studios in China and the US. Directed by Ash Brannon, it straddles the border of poor and mediocre, at least according to critics and audiences on rottentomatoes.com, scoring 46% and 60%, respectively. Luke Wilson stars in the animated film as Bodi and his father Khampa (J.K. Simmons) who are tasked to guard a bunch of ditzy sheep from a pack of wolves, but all Bodi wants is to be a rock musician.
The film is based on the graphic novel called Tibetan Rock Dog by Zheng Jun, so it involves a lot of Tibetan culture paired with Brit-rock, plus some mob action. Overall, critics found it hard to get into, felt it clumsily done, and lacking the promised rock n’ roll fun.
ROCK DOG REVIEW ROUNDUP
“While a mix of Zootopia and Sing! with hints of Kung Fu Panda seems like a great idea, the result is a strange combination. Those films created enormous, rich worlds, cultures and subcultures for anthropomorphic animals; there’s just not enough on the screen to buy into Rock Dog. It doesn’t gel, and lacks the kind of visual kinetics and energy we’ve come to expect from films of this ilk… Rock Dog is a perfectly fine and inoffensive afternoon at the movie theater, with a few great tunes, classics and original, to boot. But you’ll hardly be itching for a re-watch anytime soon — there’s just not enough there to inspire any passion.”
–Katie Walsh, Standard-Times
“A forgetful fish, a lovesick robot, a Kung-Fu panda — they’ve all been box-office hits, so why not a guitar-playing dog? It’s as good an idea as any, but Rock Dog, an animated U.S.-Chinese production, somehow falls flat. Despite a talented voice cast and some cute moments, it feels like an amateur version of the Pixar and DreamWorks classics we already know. What’s more, Rock Dog just doesn’t rock.”
–Rafer Guzman, Newsday
“And there’s Sam Elliott, who carries the narrative as the amiable Fleetwood Yak. That pun is where fun begins and ends for audiences over age ten. And a tease of Foo Fighters’ “Learn To Fly” alludes to the possibility of sonic delights but ends up being the only song not original to the movie. Unlike animated family favorites spiked with jokes for adults that go over youngsters’ heads — like Finding Nemo or Up — Rock Dog is strictly for kids.”
–Ariel Scotti, NY Daily News
“Actually, the graphic novel plot would be a better movie. Or at least one that’s a little more mature. This isn’t to say that Rock Dog isn’t fun. While the music is rather bland, the story is packed with laughs and terrific performances from its ensemble cast.”
–Gary Walcott, Tri-City Herald
“Despite all the Chinese text, Rock Dog draws mostly from American archetypes, including funny-animal cartoons, VH1’s Behind the Music, and father-and-son sitcoms. It should amuse adults who get the inside jokes, but is unlikely to interest kids who aren’t ’80s-rock buffs or Mandarin students. Once again, Chinese and American filmmakers pool their resources, only to find that having more money doesn’t make it talk any more persuasively.”