Don Bluth/20th Century Fox/Blue Sky review: Rock-A-Doodle

My opinion right after watching the film

My opinion right after watching the film is…… I have no idea what I just watched. I am confused on who the main character is, I’m confused on what the lesson was on the film, nothing was really shown, but everything was told, so on and so forth. This film is really bad, and people weren’t exaggerating. I’ve never been so flustered after watching a film before.

Production

Apparently there were plans for an animated version of Chanticleer all the way back as the early Disney days, which Walt Disney himself rejected. The production for this films tarted in roughly 1989, after the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The opening of the film was initially going to be filmed in black and white (as well as the clothing), and had Edmond’s mother reading the tale of Chanticleer to him, but an inexperienced Bluth decided to take over (since he became more involved in the storytelling at this point). Very little of this ended up in the final edit.

There was a lot of scrambling in the post-production of this film, as a lot of things were edited out to avoid a PG rating. Several members of the test audience were confused by the storytelling, so narration from Phil Harris (though the character Patou) was added last minute, causing many of the crew to work overtime to finish the film by Thanksgiving.

The film was initially going to be released in Thanksgiving of 1991, but they decided to push it back to avoid competing against Beauty and the Beast. In between the releases of All Dogs Go To Heaven and this film, there was a process that was made to move some of their studio work in The United States, but the deal with Goldcrest (which started in 1988 with The Land Before Time) was starting to sour.

Story

The story starts with a human narration, as some mother is reading the book of Rock-A-Doodle, where a rooster named Chanticleer (Glen Campbell) causes the sun to wake up, causing the farm to wake up. This ends up being sabotaged by someone named Grand Duke of Owls (Christopher Plummer), as he caused the sun to rise without Chanticleer’s help, causing the farm animals to be mad at him, and the rooster leaves. Somehow, this is tied to there being a flood in the family home, and the mother was reading it in order to distract the son. The son then calls out to Chanticleer, but somehow the Duke of Owls overhears him, and turns the boy (Toby Scott Ganger) into a kitty, who is transported to the world of Chanticleer.

There is also some next dog named Patou (Phil Harris), who is narrating the entire story, who then comes to save the kitty. If none of you can tell, I am extremely confused and bewildered (in a bad way), and I’m only 10 minutes in. A bunch of animals that I don’t care to learn their names join them to find Chanticleer, but of course the Owl is going to stop it at every chance.

They enter the city, and of course they eventually find Chanticleer singing at a club, since he is a star. I am confused about whether he is a protagonist, or a mere plot device, since if he’s the former, he is one of animated film’s weakest. Goldie is jealous of the rooster’s success, and of course her entire purpose in the film is to be his love interest. So we are told that she is a lot nicer than she appears, and it’s one of the MANY issues with the film; too much tell, and not enough show. I forgot to mention that during this time, the farm animals are miserable, and are WISHING for him to come back.

Goldie feels bad, and tries to give back the note she took (the note that the others wrote to the rooster). She tells him everything, but her (their) boss Pinky (Sorrell Booke) threatens him that he has to work, or he will never see his friends again. Keep in mind that we NEVER saw this friendship, so the care is absent for me. The chicken couple do end up escaping the studio.

I cannot with this film anymore. All of the people we are supposed to root for end up together, and a climactic battle takes place. Chanticleer is almost drowned, and doesn’t know how to crow, but the BOY KITTY STILL HAS HOPE. The bot kitty starts to crow, and with some inspiration, Chanticleer starts to crow, and defeats the bad guys, YAAAAYYYY. The boy kitty turns back into a boy, and everything is happily ever after.

Oh my goodness, this film is a catastrophe with how awful it is. Like, this is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my entire life’ from beginning to end. Like, it was so bad that I could not muster a writeup for almost a month, despite watching it weeks ago. There is no character amongst ANY of them, the perspective is all over the place, the plot makes very little sense, the animation is a slot sloppier than the past films, and there are TOO MANY songs that have no place in the film.

Characters

What characters? I have no idea who is supposed to be the main character, all of the side characters are irritating as heck, and the villain is a generic bore. No one had their own arc, no one had depth, and there were barely anything in the cast that would make them stand strong as an ensemble cast, or as individuals. They don’t even deserve their individual section.

Animation

Well….. the animation is probably going to be the only good thing I say about this movie. The backgrounds were pretty nice, the colour scheme was luscious, and the character designs are pretty nice, though it’s the typical Bluth animation style. It was very nice to look at overall, but there were more noticeable cell issues and inconsistencies.

Music

Well, the singers on the songs had brilliant tone and usage of their voices, and the songs may have been alright or even memorable if there were not SO MUCH of them. I swear there was a song every 3-4 minutes, and it all just blurred together unnecessarily. Like, it wasn’t even a musical, or used the songs in an efficient manner. It reminds me of how the songs were used in Strange Magic.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on August of 1991 in Europe, and April 3rd, 1992 in North America, it made $11 million domestically, which forced the studio to go into liquidation 6 months after its release. Soon after the films release, a Hong Kong company called Media Assets bought the rights to his next 3 films. The film was panned with the critics and audiences, and I mean it was panned by the few people who cared to see it. A lot of people loathed the poor and confusing storytelling narrative, as well as the live action segments being unnecessary, but some did say that people might be entertained by the songs and animation.

Reception Today

Its reception today is very bad. Many people not only see this as the beginning of Bluth’s downfall in animation, but it is commonly considered to be one of his worst films. I would say that it’s one of the worst animated films ever. Overall, nothing has improved over the last two decades in this regard.

Score

Story: 3/10

Characters: 2/10

Animation: 5/10

Music: 4/10

14/40 = 35%

5 thoughts on “Don Bluth/20th Century Fox/Blue Sky review: Rock-A-Doodle

  1. this was an okay movie but could have been better, but i just really love the characters in it (like mostly for snipes, he´s my favorite in the whole film and goldie too)

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