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  Rock & Rule Never Underestimate The Power Of Cheap Trick
Year: 1983
Director: Clive A. Smith
Stars: Paul Le Mat, Don Francks, Susan Roman, Dan Hennessey, Greg Duffell, Chris Wiggins, Brent Titcomb, Catherine O'Hara, Samantha Langevin, Donny Burns, Martin Lavut
Genre: Musical, Animated, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The time is many years in the far future, after the world war which wiped out the humans and inadvertently created animal mutations - now the cats, dogs and rats are the masters of planet Earth. A legendary rock star named Mok (voiced by Don Francks) isn't quite as popular as he used to be and his last concert didn't entirely sell out, but he has other things on his mind as he searches for the right voice to assist him in his pet project. And what is his big plan? Only to open a gateway to another dimension using the power of music, and unleash the creature that lies beyond it. And finally, it looks as though he's found someone who has just the appropriate voice, a currently unknown singer called Angel (Susan Roman).

Rock & Rule was a pretty obscure title even when it was first released, and as successful cartoon features went it was clear Disney had nothing to worry about. Scripted by Peter Sauder and John Halfpenny from Patrick Lauber's story, it was a science fiction tale with the gimmick of a rock soundtrack, which had been done before with the fairly lucrative anthology Heavy Metal, but in this instance there was one story for the whole running time. The artists performing on the soundtrack were of the likes of Lou Reed, Deborah Harry (who sings Angel's part), Cheap Trick and Iggy Pop, all slightly faded stars by the time the film had come out, but big names nonetheless.

Unfortunately it wasn't enough to bring in the audiences, possibly because overall it seemed too juvenile for adults and too adult for children, with the odd item of mild swearing and suggestively drawn female characters adorning the screen. And it's ironic that the chief villain is a rock star past his prime judging by the songs we are treated to, which don't pass muster with the artists' best and probably didn't appear on many "greatest hits" albums. However, those few who saw Rock & Rule on its initial release, or who caught it on a rare television showing, were quite taken with it, and made up the film's small but significant cult.

Angel sings with her boyfriend Omar (Paul Le Mat) and his band, made up of tubby Dizzy (Dan Hennessey) and tall, nervous Stretch (Greg Duffell), who resembles Shaggy if Shaggy were crossed with Scooby Doo in a plain wrong genetics experiment. Omar always wants to perform his own songs at the club, but tonight Angel gets her chance to sing her own composition, and who should be in the shadows but Mok? He is impressed, and rushes away in his chauffeur-driven limousine to his castle retreat, sending out an invitation for the band to join him one evening. At first Omar jealously refuses to go, but he changes his mind and accompanies them after all, winding up Mok's guards and finally Mok himself.

What then happens is Angel is kidnapped and taken on a huge airship from her 'ome in Ohmtown to Nuke York City for a concert that Mok hopes will unleash the beast. The rest of Angel's band steal a police car and follow her in hot pursuit, but when they get to the city they find the problem of finding her to be a difficult one. Although short (about an hour and a quarter), Rock & Rule packs a lot in, and is attractively animated with plenty of bright colours and eye-catching effects. However, the story is an unconvincing tale of the redemptive power of rock that could have been thought up by any over-imaginative teenager, and hence will probably appeal mostly to them to the exclusion of most others, except for the more nostalgic among us who caught it in the eighties. Additional music by Patricia Cullen.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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