Film review: Rock

Published: Wednesday, July 2 2003 4:21 p.m. MDT

"Rock-A-Doodle" is the story of an Elvis-like singing rooster named Chanticleer (with a beefed-up physique that resembles "Rambo" and the voice of Glen Campbell), who is so self-centered he thinks his crowing actually brings up the sun. But when the sun rises one day even though he's overslept, he feels humiliated and heads for the city.

This story is being read from a children's book to young Edmond (Tony Scott Granger) by his mother in the first of two animation/live-action segments (lower your expectations from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" standards).

Taking his cue from the story, Edmond calls on Chanticleer for help when rains flood his family's farm. Only Chanticleer's crowing will bring up the sun and save the day, he reasons.

But the Grand Duke, an evil owl (Christopher Plummer), doesn't want Chanticleer coming back, so he turns Edmond into a kitten (which, oddly, resembles Fievel, the mouse in "An American Tail"). Soon Edmond is joined by Chanticleer's old friends, cartoon animals voiced by Phil Harris (who also narrates the film), Sandy Duncan and Eddie Deezen. Together they head for the city and find Chanticleer has hit the big time, billed as "The King" in a high-rolling nightclub. To foil their plan, the Grand Duke contacts the club's owner and, with the help of a naive showgirl pheasant (Ellen Greene), manages to steer Chanticleer clear of his old friends. For awhile.

The animation (traditional for farm scenes, cubist for city scenes) is up to Bluth's usual level of excellence, and the songs are certainly better than those in "All Dogs Go to Heaven," generally lively, toe-tapping tunes. But the voice-over narration by Harris is annoying and unnecessary — and worse, it often drowns out the songs!

Hardly up there with Bluth's best work, "Rock-A-Doodle" will nonetheless please children. But it would be nice to see him regain the old magic of "The Secret of NIMH" and "The Land Before Time," back when he was giving Disney a run for its money.

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