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  Rover Dangerfield Dog Days
Year: 1991
Director: James L. George, Bob Seeley
Stars: Rodney Dangerfield, Ronnie Schell, Ned Luke, Heidi Banks, Eddie Barth, Gregg Berger, Dennis Blair, Susan Boyd, Bernard Erhard, Dana Hill, Bert Kramer, Sal Landi, Tress MacNeille, Danny Mann, Robert Pine, Michael Sheehan, Shawn Southwick, Don Stewart
Genre: Comedy, Animated, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 3 votes)
Review: Rover Dangerfield (voiced by Rodney Dangerfield) is a dog who calls Las Vegas his home. His owner is a showgirl called Connie (Shawn Southwick) who dotes on him, and when he's not enjoying the attention from her he's betting his bone supply in dice games, which don't usually end with him the winner. However, Connie has a ne'erdowell boyfriend called Rocky (Sal Landi) who is a small time crook trying to make it in the big time, except that Rover messes up his chances on a deal when he interrupts him and his would-be associates who think the cops are on to them. Now it's Rover who is in trouble...

Rodney Dangerfield had made his name in the eighties as far as movies went, and ever since Caddyshack audiences were as keen to see his boorish antics on the big screen as they were to hear his standup routines, perhaps even more so. After a few vehicles in that decade, though, he decided he wanted to make a film for kids, starring himself, for reasons unclear as in that medium we would not be getting the full strength Dangerfield wit - surely he would have to tone his act down for a family friendly cartoon? As he was on script duties, he only had himself to blame when the project flopped, with parents not seeing him as proper material for their children to watch, and his usual fans not wishing a diluted version of their favourite comic.

So what you have with Rover is a curious attempt to go for an audience that probably didn't exist: those who wanted a Dangerfield movie they could take their kids to without worrying about hearing profanity or inappropriate gags. If the comedian had opted to go all out and present his usual, full strength persona in an animation, then the results would have been a lot more memorable than this turned out, if anything, this was a gentle fish out of water tale. That's because Rover is lifted out of his Vegas lifestyle by Rocky who stuffs him in a sack and throws the pooch over a dam, hoping to be rid of him for good. Luckily for Rover, he is found by a pair of fishermen before he drowns.

They take him to a farm where the bulk of the plot takes place, and the mutt has to settle down and cope with the culture clash. The farmer's son takes to Rover (who wears a red tie to which has his name on, thus proving the once-valid maxim that cartoon animals who wear clothes are the ones who talk - what happened to that rule, anyway?), and the dog does begin to settle in spite of being overweight and nobody's idea of a working animal. He also falls in love with Daisy (Susan Boyd), who is designed to look like Lassie, and begins to think that the rural life is not so bad after all. Yet he misses Connie and naturally there's a plot point unresolved in that Rocky has to get his comeuppance.

Dangerfield offers doggy versions of his familiar "I don't get no respect" lines, but they're so mild in comparison to his jokes elsewhere that they struggle to raise a laugh. He also thought that songs would be a good idea, which he wrote as well, but hearing that rasping vocal style is not exactly easy on the ear, even if he is singing about how he will never go on a Christmas tree. Fair enough, he did fancy broadening his fanbase, but the diehards must have been wishing for something far less conventional - the possibilities of animation could have given us some truly surreal flights of fancy from Dangerfield's imagination, this could have been a Fritz the Cat for the nineties, but Rover skates dangerously close to bland, and that's all that was dangerous about it. If you want to introduce your kids to him, then you could do worse, but they'd get bigger laughs from Back to School or its ilk. Music by David Newman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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