There have been plenty of animated movies that have borrowed elements from previous movies before. A notable example of a movie that did this well was "Sing". Despite using elements used in other movies, it still managed to be its own movie. "Rock Dog" on the other hand, is sadly not one of those movies. I can tell that this movie means well as it has a good animation studio and a talented director helming the project, but in the end, it fails to deliver which leads to a film that lacks the inspiration we have seen in many other good movies.
The story, once again, focuses on a world of anthropomorphic animals. In this world, there is a village known as Snow Mountain filled with tons of sheep and are guards by dogs (who are really sheep in disguise) from a group of wolfs led by Linnux (Lewis Black). The only dog and main guard of the village, Khampa (J.K. Simmons) wants to have his son Bodi (Luke Wilson) follow in his footsteps. However, Bodi has trouble perfecting his fathers' moves and is having trouble finding the flame inside of him as the film puts it. One day, Bodi discovers rock and roll after a radio falls from a biplane and instantly wants to become a musician. After some time his father decides to allow him to follow his dream and gives him a bus ticket to the city. He then heads to the city and tries to find his idol, a known rock star cat named Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) so he can find his fire. Meanwhile, a group of wolves led by Linnux discovers that Bodi is heading to the city and try to capture him so he can reveal the village secrets.
I feel a little bad for the director of this movie. Ash Brannon has made plenty of good movies before including co-directing "Toy Story 2" and directing "Surfs Up" and he somehow feels a little lost with this movie mainly because the film made me think of many elements that were used better in other movies. The Chinese elements reminded me of "Kung Fu Panda" while the anthropomorphic animal world reminded me of "Zootopia" and the music elements reminded me of "Sing". All three of these elements stand well on their own or with another, but putting all three together just made the movie a mess. As for elements like the story, I can say that is alright, but it just felt a little messy and uninspired. The animation is probably the best part of the movie. I love computer animation backgrounds as well as the traditional animation that was used in the intro. However, one element of the animation that I can't forgive is the fact that there is an unbalanced use of both Chinese and English on the city's signs. What I mean is there is an English advertisement in the background while the street names are in Chinese. As for the characters, they're not really memorable. They have personalities, but don't have memorable names or are just rip-offs of character's we have seen before. The one notable exception is Angus Scattergood. I thought he was a very funny character because he acted like a proper rock star and Eddie Izzard brought something I haven't seen in a character.
As for the rest of the movie, it just didn't stand out. "Rock Dog" is a movie that had promise, but just didn't deliver. In all honesty, though, it's a harmless movie. It's a movie that I think should have been released direct-to-DVD, because it really has no reason to be released in theaters. It's easily a movie that can be used as background noise which may or may not be a good sign.