‘Rock Dog’ an old tale with new tricks


A strict father with ultimatums. A dutiful son with dreams. A famous aging cat in need of inspiration (and champagne).

Such are the themes of the new animated children’s film “Rock Dog,” an old tale that manages to serve up some refreshing new tricks.

The film, directed by Ash Brannon (“Surf’s Up,” “Toy Story 2”), begins on Snow Mountain, where a Tibetan mastiff named Khampa (J.K. Simmons) and his son, Bodi (Luke Wilson), guard a village of wool-making sheep from bad-wolf Linnux (Lewis Black) and his pack, who yearn to infiltrate.

Despite working hard to protect the mountain, young Bodi can’t shake his lifelong love of music, which his father long ago deemed an unnecessary distraction. When a radio falls from the sky and Bodi hears an interview with rock-cat legend Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard), he is forever changed.

“Play your guts out and never stop,” Angus advises young musicians, “even when your dad says stop.”

“It was like the answer to the question of my life,” Bodi says.

Angus’ words of inspiration ringing fresh in his floppy ears, Bodi knows what he must do. Armed with a bus ticket, boundless optimism and dogged determination, he heads to the city in hopes of living out his dream.

Meanwhile, Angus’ record label is pressuring him for a new song like yesterday, and the all-black-clad cool cat with a serious case of writer’s block is starting to sweat.

What follows is an unlikely partnership between the two as they race to produce a new song while also trying to outwit the wolves, who have decided that kidnapping Bodi is the key to finally sinking their teeth into Snow Mountain.

Wilson does a commendable job as Bodi, who looks exactly how you’d picture the well-known actor if he actually were a dog, but it’s Izzard’s Angus who is really the cat’s meow, perfectly tapping into the soul of an over-fluffed, reclusive, tortured rock god.

The best compliment he can muster after being impressed with a song Bodi played? “That is not actually awful. It’s OKish.”

My biggest complaint about the movie is the same one my 8-year-old daughter voiced before we even left the theater — “There are no girls.” The only female character of note — and the only female voice I can even remember hearing — is Darma (Mae Whitman), a friend of Bodi’s who is vaguely endearing but completely disposable.

Still, despite that and the fact that the story line is not new — and at times feels disjointed — the musical current that runs throughout is refreshing and fun, sure to inspire kids in a place like Austin, where guitar lessons by age 10 are standard practice.

It’s fun to watch, too, from the beauty of the village on Snow Mountain, with its flowing streams and kites floating in the breeze, to the grandeur of Angus’ mansion, with its retractable lawn and multiple-story guitar room. Oh, and it ends with a totally rockin’ jam session.

At one point in the film village elder Fleetwood Yak (Sam Elliott) offers Bodi these wise words: “It’s your life. Make it a happy one.”

This movie will make you happy, for 80 minutes at least.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Movies & TV

Gregg Allman tribute video released on anniversary of his death
Gregg Allman tribute video released on anniversary of his death

The music of Gregg Allman lives on. The Southern rock legend died one year ago on May 27, and to commemorate the anniversary of his passing at age 69, his team compiled a three-minute video that showcases Allman the way he’d want to be remembered – always making music. The clip, set to his 1973 song “Queen of Hearts” from his...
This week’s music picks: The Wine Down, Richard Buckner, more
This week’s music picks: The Wine Down, Richard Buckner, more

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHcLWDN_vKI&w=492&h=307] Wednesday: The Wine Down series with Sour Notes at 3Ten. The local indie band, whose 2017 album “Darkest Sour” was their fifth release in less than a decade, celebrates is 10th anniversary by playing this seasonal series that...
How to build the ultimate cheese board
How to build the ultimate cheese board

Whoever first decided it was not only acceptable but classy to throw a bunch of cheese bits and snacks on a board deserves credit for simultaneously pulling off what may have been both the greatest scam and invention in the history of entertaining. Sure, you might want to invest in fresh cheese if you're having friends over, but you can pull together...
Webb Report: Whatever happened to Celebration Station?

You don’t forget the first place that banned you from riding the go-carts. Try as you might, it’s the kind of thing that sticks in your craw. After I drove a gas-powered go-cart a little too wildly — out of ineptitude, not recklessness — and slammed into the car in front of me at the finish line as a kid, a ride attendant told...
Olivia Munn discusses Aaron Rodgers’ family issues for the first time
Olivia Munn discusses Aaron Rodgers’ family issues for the first time

Olivia Munn has opened up about ex Aaron Rodgers’ family issues nearly one year after their split. >> Read more trending news  Munn appeared on Sirius XM’s “Andy Cohen Live” and said she only met the NFL Green Bay quarterback’s parents “a couple of times.”  “Before he and I started...
More Stories