“Rock Dog” Review

If you’re looking for a family friendly film to watch this weekend, look no further than the animated film, “Rock Dog” that is based on a graphic novel by the Chinese rock musician Zhen Jun.

The film follows Tibetan mastiffs on Snow Mountain whose job is to  guard a peaceful village of sheep from the thuggish wolf Linnux (Lewis Black) and his rabid pack including Riff (Kenan Thompson.) To avoid distractions, mastiff leader Khampa (J.K. Simmons) forbids all music. However, his son Bodi (Luke Wilson) discovers a radio that falls from the sky and ditches his predestined guard life in order to follow his dream of becoming a rock dog.

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Bodi (Luke Wilson) / Photo Credit: Lionsgate

The themes “Rock Dog” explores is an universal one that we all have encountered before;  what do you do when you don’t want to go down a predestined path? Do you follow your dreams and defy your loved ones, or do you stay true to yourself and live your dreams? I think these themes and questions are especially important in today’s world where kids have so many possibilities to choose from yet may hold back due to a parent or other circumstances. It’s good lesson for them to learn that they can and should follow what they are passionate about even if it will take you down a harder road.

The “Footloose”-esque rules of outlawing music seek to suppress Bodi’s internal love and passion of rock music. Luke Wilson voices the title character of Bodi who doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps of obedience protecting sheep whom can’t even remember what they did seconds ago. Khampa is voiced by the striking you-can’t-miss voice of J.K. Simmons who elevates Khampa’s fatherly demeanor, yet still maintains a loving and understanding tone with his son.

Bodi (Luke Wilson) and Khampa (J.K. Simmons)

Bodi (Luke Wilson) and Khampa (J.K. Simmons) / Photo credit: Lionsgate

One of my favorite parts of the film was Kenan Thompson voicing the wolf, Kiff. Being a Nickelodeon kid in the 90s and “Saturday Night Live” aficionado you can’t mistake Thompson’s voice. He took Riff and made it his own goofy wannabe bad guy into a hilarious part the film needed. And you can’t escape the superb narration from Sam Elliot as a yak named Fleetwood throughout the film. Fleetwood is the calming presence guiding Bodi to follow his dreams. We all may relate to having the one person in our life who encourages us to become who we want to be.

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(left) Linnux (Lewis Black) / Photo credit: Lionsgate

When Bodi first hears the music from the radio that falls out of the sky, he is electrified and instantly knows what he is meant to do. Can you remember that feeling when you found out what you wanted to do the rest of your life, or maybe you’re still searching for it. Like many journeys there will always be things or people aiming to take you down.

Bodi chases after his idol from the radio, Angus to teach him how to play guitar. Angus is a washed up rock legend who is bitter, worn out and under immense stress to pop out the next big single. Bodi is the fresh new talent and Angus uses it to his advantage without Bodi knowing what’s happening, but redeems himself in the end.  My favorite scene was Angus’ extensive and colorful guitar collection. It’s every rock lover’s dream!

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Bodi (Luke Wilson) and Angus (Eddie Izzard) / Photo credit: Lionsgate

“Rock Dog” is an overwhelmingly sweet and cute family film that will allow kids to learn those tough lessons while having fun and rocking out!

“Rock Dog” is now out in theaters! Be sure to follow Shuffle Online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for more entertainment news!

 

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