Rock Dog

The sun was retreating, leaving its post earlier than normal on that fateful evening. Options limited by the curtailed sunlit hours and wanting to make for a fun evening, an idea came to mind.

MOANA.

Having been previously given the thumbs-up from a trusted advisor, it was sure to be an acceptable option. And yet, even with the recommendation from his friend, my son couldn’t be LESS interested in seeing it. Not even reverse psychology and laugh-inducing trailers changed his mind. He wasn’t having it, even if that meant he would get his favorite snack – POPCORN (the real reason he enjoys movies).

As the new-to-me technology of “throwing” YouTube from my smartphone to my smart television failed me, I wasn’t able to remove the video stream from continuing on its auto-play path forward. After the second MOANA trailer, we got a new choice for my son’s consideration.

ROCK DOG.

None of us had heard of it, but before the night was over, it had entertained us all.

Picture KUNG FU PANDA, an animated feature about an animal whose desires lead him down a path other than what society believes he should do, and in the end he just might be the savior they didn’t know they needed.

Instead of a panda, it’s a dog. Instead of Kung Fu, it’s music. Playing the guitar, to be more precise. But just like with Kung Fu Panda, there is a journey by the protagonist whereby he perfects his skill and, with a bit of magic, ends up facing off against a villain determined to ruin their society.

Luke Wilson does the voice for the main character, which is nice because when the voice-over actor is too famous, sometimes it takes away from the film. Instead of being able to focus on who the character is, thoughts drift to other characters and roles the voice-over actor has performed live-action. Although Luke Wilson is actually a favorite actor of mine, most people probably won’t know him by voice.

The rest of the vocal talents were similarly good choices. Eddie Izzard was excellent in his role as the reluctant mentor. J.K. Simmons continues to prove he has the fatherly aura about him and fits the role nicely.

Lewis Black as the villain was a very nice touch. Mae Whitman and Jorge Garcia as the friends Wilson’s Bodi meets along the way do a decent job of giving off the friendly-yet-skeptical vibes. Matt Dillon’s entertaining as the mid-level antagonist who doesn’t want the new guy infringing on his musical territory. Keenan Thompson does good work in his small role as a henchman, and Sam Elliot adds a bit of gravitas as the village’s wise elder with a spectacular name: Fleetwood Yak.

The story’s nothing super special, but all together, it works quite well to fill an evening with something you’d probably enjoy watching a second time if the weather turns and the next afternoon is rainy.

My rating: 75 out of 100

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