In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_8m1wedzu6xjdyqkaiekgeaudjhm

The Water Diviner

Russell Crowe's directorial debut, a drama about a man trying to save three sons who disappeared at the battle of Galliipoli, wants to be a…

Thumb_sv1ouuhxey2lvs23qlpxofcuhv0

The Age of Adaline

Though it's hampered by rather bloodless lead performances, this story of an ageless woman and her two great loves finds its tone in its second…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Rock-A-Doodle

  |  

The animator Don Bluth left Disney in 1979 when he felt the studio's animation division had lost its way. He was quite right at the time. But since then, with titles like "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty And The Beast" (1991), Disney has found its way again, and now it sometimes seems as if Bluth is wandering.

His titles as an independent animator include "The Secret of NIMH," "The Land Before Time," "An American Tail," "All Dogs Go To Heaven" and now "Rock-a-Doodle." His trademark is a certain freedom of figure drawing; characters look unusual, even bizarre, compared to the more anthropomorphic Disney characters, and until the very latest Disney movies played catch-up, they had more spatial freedom, too.

His "All Dogs Go to Heaven" was also notable for the particular brilliance of its colors; it was dazzling to look at. But one of the disappointments of "Rock-a-Doodle" is a muted color palette. The movie doesn't feel as bright as it should.

The story (awkwardly sandwiched between unnecessary live-action bookends involving a real little boy) is about Chanticleer, a boastful barnyard rooster who confidently believes it is his crowing that makes the sun come up. The Grand Duke of Owl, who lives nearby, is also convinced Chanticleer has that power - and doesn't like it one bit, because he prefers the deep, dark night himself.

One morning Chanticleer fails to crow, and the sun indeed fails to come up. Chanticleer slinks off to the big city in disgrace, and big dark rain clouds hang low over the land, threatening the farm with flooding. The barnyard animals, led by a little kitten that is the embodiment of the "real" boy in the wraparound, get up an expedition to the city, hoping to find Chanticleer. He, in the meantime, has found overnight success as a rock 'n' roll singer named 'The King', with a pompadour that makes him look amazingly like Elvis. Glen Campbell plays the voice of Chanticleer, and others on the soundtrack include Christopher Plummer as the Owl and the ageless Phil Harris as an ancient dog.

The movie has some good songs and some lively animation, but what bothered me was that most of the interaction between characters was on the level of violence. Why do almost all problems in family movies have to be settled through strength and scheming? Is there any other way to create dramatic tension and excitement? "Rock-a-Doodle" is passably entertaining - the younger you are, the more it may absorb you - but as movies like "Beauty And The Beast" (1991) marry animation with musical comedy, it looks a little uninspired.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Showtime’s “Happyish” is a Smug, Self-Righteous Bore

A review of Showtime's Happyish with Steve Coogan, Kathryn Hahn, and Bradley Whitford.

The Restoration of René Clémént's "Forbidden Games"

A piece on the restoration and new subtitles for Forbidden Games, one of Roger's Great Movies.

Venerable, never: Richard T. Jameson Remembers Richard Corliss

A remembrance of Richard Corliss by Richard T. Jameson, who wrote for Film Comment under Corliss, then later was his ...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus