Wednesday, April 01, 2009

So Elvis makes the sun come up, and there's an owl with magical sorcery breath, and a kid who turns into a kitten with a speech impediment, and...



The Nostalgia Critic recently reviewed Don Bluth's Rock-a-Doodle, and while it's not as memorable as his review of Tom and Jerry: the Movie, the Christopher Plummer bit is good, and it's always good to see a full-length tirade against a bad '90s animated feature. Particularly one that has arguably the worst voice-over performance by any child actor in any film.

I don't agree with his statement that Bluth was an "animation god" in the '80s, but I know where he's coming from; I went to see An American Tail when I was a kid, and enjoyed it more than any Disney feature from the same era. Bluth's flaws are obvious enough in retrospect, but his '80s movies were interesting to kids in a way that most of the Disney product was not. The fact that he fell apart soon after as Disney got its act together just emphasizes the idea that he was necessary to give kids what they wanted until Disney could shape up.

Part of this, I think, is that most of Bluth's movies were basically similar to Saturday morning cartoons of the period -- better-animated, but similar in design, story structure, and the type of voices and characters they used. Even the scary bits were kind of like the scary moments on, say, My Little Pony. So kids who were being raised on Saturday morning cartoons could get some of the same things from Bluth's features.

And while Rock-a-Doodle may not have been the worst of the '90s animated features -- it may not even be Don Bluth's worst -- it does have probably the most incomprehensible plot in the history of animated features, starting with the plot point that drives the Nostalgia Critic around the bend: the whole story hinges on the idea that the Elvis Rooster's crowing makes the sun rise, but only after we've already seen that the sun will rise even if he doesn't crow.



He's not the only one driven insane by the plot of Rock-a-Doodle. I checked the movie's Wikipedia entry, and found this in the film's plot summary. I almost hope that no one changes it; it's the sort of thing I enjoy finding on Wikipedia. This is a direct cut-and-paste:


Chanticleer continues to try to crow, but The Duke, angered by this, then transforms into a giant and causes chaos in the form of a tornado. Chanticleer in the tornado starts to sink beneath the waves, listening to all the good and bad things said about him. Suddenly, hearing how the Duke mocked him with a "Cock-a-doodle-doo?" and listening to Patou, he regains his confidence, gathers his energy, and crows. The sun strikes the gigantic owl's twister and.... You know what? Fuck this plot; it's way too stupid for words. I'm done with this shit. You lose, good day sir.


8 comments:

Speedy Boris said...

LOL, that's great. I don't normally condone vandalism on Wikipedia, but for a plot this screwed up, the description was certainly appropriate.

Andrew Leal said...

It would be more amusing if it had been added by the person who actually wrote that insanely thorough summary, rather than after the fact vandalism.

I love the Ken Davis drawings for Disney's own aborted take on Chanticleer/Reynard, which were later published in a kind of children's book collectible thingummy, but Rock-a-Doodle killed any hope of anyone reviving it.

And you're right, Bluth would go on to worse lows, such as "A Troll in Central Park." Then there was "The Pebble and the Penguin," the movie Bluth *took his name off of* as director!

Whit said...

Uh, it was Art, not Ken, Davis who drew the original Disney Chanticleer presentation artwork. I love how it's Bakshi who gets the rap for making convoluted films when Bluth's entire feature career is out there smelling up the universe. Rumors persist Bluth, Pomeroy and Goldman are developing a "Dragon's Lair" film, while paying bills by moonlighting on a religious internet series for someone in L.A. from Phoenix. It' ain't over till the magic underwear sings.

Andrew Leal said...

Actually, it was Marc Davis; I was tired. So we both goofed!

Thad said...

Let's hope he never makes another movie.

For all his faults, Bakshi at least had an original point of view, and "Heavy Traffic" and some parts of "Fritz" and "Coonskin" are just amazing. Bluth just did fake Disney. I knew it was shit even when I was four and saw "Rock a Doodle"...

Rick Roberts said...

I think the dumbest lyric of any song in Rock-A-Doodle was when the owls said "We hate the sun ! From head to toe !". Yes, a giant flaming gas ball that was clearly illustrated as such in the beginning of the film has a body to speak of.

In general, Don Bluth is a good animator but he dosen't know a damn thing about film. He can only put up a cobbled mess of ear bleeding musicals, pretty backgrounds (not be sarcastic here), and good special effects.

I also can't stand the way he draws. He makes his humans bland and animals with small beady eyes, small eye lashes, and huge mouths.

Bakshi isn't much a film maker himself however he knows how to grab an audience with his view of the world and it's raw and funny at the same time.

Rick Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Roberts said...

Whit: Both Bluth and Goldman has desired to make a Dragon's Lair film for years now but no studio would back it up. Hollywood knows they are box office poison.


Another thing, good on Nostalgia Critic for bashing Space Jam. I am glad someone outside the fan boy animation community actually found that film for obnoxious, unfunny, marketing whore that it was.