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  Rock-A-Doodle Man-Sized RoosterBuy this film here.
Year: 1991
Director: Don Bluth
Stars: Phil Harris, Glen Campbell, Christopher Plummer, Sandy Duncan, Eddie Deezen, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ellen Greene, Sorrell Booke, Toby Scott Ganger, Dee Wallace, Kathryn Holcomb, Stan Ivar, Will Ryan, Louise Chamis, Bob Gallico
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Animated, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Chanticleer the rooster (voiced by Glen Campbell) was cock of the walk, singing his heart out on this Tennessee farm to make the sun come up - or so everyone thought. Every morning he would be there belting out a tune, and the animals would listen on in rapt admiration, all being right with the world. That was until once in the early hours someone was mysteriously despatched to attack Chanticleer, and as they struggled in the dirt the sun rose anyway, the animals who were assembled to see what the commotion was were amazed - and the rooster was humiliated.

Don Bluth's dedication to the art of animation was never in doubt, but it could be he loved not wisely but too well, as his efforts to rival his old bosses at Disney were often observed to be immaculately fashioned, but lacking in other, equally vital areas. Bluth had tried to get Rock-A-Doodle off the ground in the seventies at that company, but having been rebuffed he set about making it himself, with the consequence that many could see why the House of Mouse had turned it down, for as a story it was frankly all over the place, and as a musical it displayed a curious reluctance to engage with its specially written songs.

Indeed, every time Glen Campbell started to sing, before long some other character or the narrator would be talking over him, as if Bluth was impatient with having to stage a number when there was a plot to be getting on with. Those tunes were faux-rock 'n' roll efforts which were perfectly pleasant listening thanks to Campbell's way with them, and deserved a better setting than the one they got; then again, from a musical which featured one ten second song about batteries running out it could have been there was some serious snipping going on to keep the action down to a borderline incredible hour, not including ten minutes of credits. Did the money run out or did they not have faith in the audience to sit still for the regular feature length?

From the way Bluth careered through that plot Rock-A-Doodle certainly appeared as though it was fighting a battle against picosecond-short attention spans, so much so that the finer points were lost, therefore if you were really concentrating on what was going on you might be able to keep up with it all, yet it was easier to allow this parade of brash brightness and feverish movement to play itself out before you without really engaging with it. For animation fans who were aficionados of Bluth there was much to admire with his way with a line and an expression, it's just that the script let him down, a mishmash of incident whose big idea, about the sun refusing to come up now that Chanticleer is exiled didn't make any sense when its willingness to rise anyway was what drove him away in the first place.

Our villain was an owl wizard named Grand Duke (Christopher Plummer) who is magically controlling... er, something or other, but he has turned the youngest son of the farmer, live action Edmond (Toby Scott Ganger), into a cartoon kitten so he... um, it's not too apparent why he does that, but the boy now leads an expedition of animals to the big city to track down the rooster (if you've forgotten the bird's name it's helpfully repeated by the characters about fifteen billion times). Chanticleer now is working as an Elvis Presley in Las Vegas style entertainer (though Campbell doesn't do an impression of that), and has to be convinced by his old pals to return, but not before far too many characters are introduced for such a short film, including his manager, love interest, a sidekick for the Grand Duke, and not to mention all the farmyard denizens peppered around. Finishing with a flourish which again doesn't make much sense, you're left with a visually dazzling but dramatically haywire bauble. Music by Robert Folk.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Don Bluth  (1937 - )

American animator who started his career with Disney working on features such as Robin Hood, The Rescuers and Pete's Dragon. However, Bluth and a number of his fellow animators were unhappy with the declining standards at the studio and walked out to create their own cartoons, starting with The Secret of NIMH. What followed were increasingly mediocre efforts, from An American Tail and The Land Before Time to All Dogs Go To Heaven and Rock-A-Doodle.

By the nineties, Bluth just wasn't competing with Disney anymore, despite his talents, and films like Thumbelina and The Pebble and the Penguin were being largely ignored. Anastasia was a minor success, but Titan A.E., touted as a summer blockbuster, was a major flop and Bluth has not directed anything since.

 
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