Rock Dog

Posted on February 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Preschool
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for action and language
Profanity: Some schoolyard language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Action-style cartoon peril, chases, predators, no one hurt
Diversity Issues: A metaphorical theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: February 24, 2017
Copyright Lionsgate 2016

The second movie in three months featuring cartoon animals singing pop songs is “Rock Dog,” based on a Chinese graphic novel.

Luke Wilson provides the voice for Bodi, a sheepdog in Tibet, raised by his martinet father Khampa (J.K. Simmons). Bodi is never able to muster the “Kung Fu Panda” style mystic power his father tries to teach him as a part of the elaborate defense system he has put in place to protect the sheep from the Mafia-type wolves (led by Lewis Black as Linnux). At one time the community had two passions, making music and making wool. But after an attack by wolves, the instruments have all been locked away so that there will be no distractions from civil defense.

When a radio literally drops from the sky (an airplane loses some of its cargo), Bodi realizes his true purpose. He is not a watchdog — he is a musician.

Inspired by the music of rock star Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard), he decides to leave the mountain to follow in his footsteps: he will find a band in the legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll Park and play music no matter who tries to stop him. “Play your guts out and never stop, even when your dad tells you to stop, don’t stop.” He realizes that this is “the answer to my life,” and soon he is making music for delighted new fans.

Khampa reluctantly agrees to let Bodi go, but makes him promise he will return if he does not succeed. In the big city, he finds the Rock ‘n’ Roll Park, where he encounters a bully (Matt Dillon) who sends him to Scattergood’s booby-trapped fortress of a house as a prank.

Scattergood is desperately trying to come up with the new song his record label is demanding, but he is so isolated that he has run out of ideas, like Dana Carvey playing “Choppin’ Broccoli.”

There are some charming details (the sheep’s pub is called the Warp and Weft and serves shots of wheatgrass), and its international production team is reflected in its settings, like the Japan-inspired Rock ‘n’ Roll park, where Bodi and the bully have a shred-off. Bodi is a likeable hero and it is fun to see his cheery optimism paired with the burned-out, cynical Angus. Like the music they create, it is pleasantly entertaining.

Parents should know that this movie has cartoon action-style peril and violence, including predators, chases, fire, and some pratfalls, although no one is hurt. There is also some schoolyard language.

Family discussion: Why was it so hard for Angus to write a song? Why did he think he did not want to see anyone? How did Bodi know that music was his destiny?

If you like this, try: “Surf’s Up”

Related Tags:

 

Animation Movies -- format Musical Talking animals

The DUFF

Posted on February 19, 2015 at 5:43 pm

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying
Profanity: Some strong and crude language, one and a half f-words
Alcohol/ Drugs: Teen drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Bullying
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: February 20, 2015
Date Released to DVD: June 8, 2015
Amazon.com ASIN: B00WAEEG7M
Copyright 2015 CBS Films
Copyright 2015 CBS Films

A haiku has 17 syllables. A limerick has five lines. An omelet is made from eggs. And a teen romantic comedy will have our characters visit the mall, a locker room, a classroom, and the school bathroom. There will be a trying-on-clothes montage, a makeover, a house party, and a big school dress-up dance. Nothing wrong with that. We’d be disappointed if they skipped any of these essentials. But because we see those same elements over and over, it can be tough to get it right. For every “Mean Girls” or “10 Things I Hate About You” there are dozens of duds like “Drive Me Crazy” or “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.”

“The DUFF,” based on the book by Kody Keplinger, mostly gets it right, thanks to witty performances and great chemistry from the wonderful Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell (“The Flash”), though they are both too old to play teenagers.

Bianca Piper (Whitman) has two best friends , fashionista Jess (Skyler Samuels), and hacker/jock Casey (Bianca A. Santos), both gorgeous and talented and loyal.  She does not mind too much that she is socially awkward, except when it comes to her inability to say more than two words (literally) to her soulful, acoustic guitar-playing crush, Toby (Nick Eversman).  And then Wes, the handsome boy next door, who happens to be the star of the school football team (Amell), tells her that she is the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend), the accessible gateway between her hot friends and the rest of the world.  She is hurt.  She is humiliated.  She is furious.  She un-friends Jess and Casey in a funny encounter that involves almost a dozen different kinds of social media entanglements.  With no one else to rely on, she decides to ask Wes for advice, in exchange for helping him with his chemistry test.  Cue the trip to the mall with the makeover/trying on clothes montage.

Wes has a “strobe light” (off and on) relationship with the school’s uber-mean girl, named, of course, Madison (Bella Thorne, an actual teenager).  Madison’s greatest goal in life is to become a reality TV star and she has her own DUFF/acolyte, constantly following her around to film her for her YouTube channel.

Seeing Wes with Bianca makes Madison determined to get him back in time for (of course) the big homecoming dance, where the homecoming king and queen will be announced.   Her friend spots Bianca and Wes at the mall, and secretly films Bianca joking about her crush on Toby.  Madison edits and uploads the humiliating video, which quickly spreads throughout the school.

Bianca is crushed.  

But with the support of Wes, she decides to own it, deciding that the experience is like the acid bath that created Batman villain, The Joker.  In a nice touch, even though they are hurt by Bianca’s accusations, Jess and Casey decide to help out behind the scenes by taking the video down.  They really are her friends.  But Bianca is so colossally embarrassed that what had seemed insurmountable humiliations like saying three or more words to Toby seem trivial.  Soon, they have a date for dinner.  And she has a beautiful new LBD to wear, courtesy of Wes.

The adults in the story are played by underused top talent (Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, Romany Malco), but the focus here is on the kids and they deliver their lines with a nice confidence and snap.  It is not as endlessly quotable as “Mean Girls” but it feels fresh and resilient.  There is even a suggestion that a makeover may not be right for Bianca, or, at least, that any makeover should leave her more like herself, in the world of high school movies, positively revolutionary.  Whitman makes Bianca so thoroughly herself throughout that anyone would be glad to have her for a BFF.

Parents should know that this movie includes crude sexual references and some strong language, including one and a half f-words. There is a party with some teen drinking.

Family discussion: How does this compare to your school experience? Why did Bianca believe she was a DUFF, even though her friends really loved her?

If you like this, try: “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” “Sydney White,” and “Mean Girls.”

Related Tags:

 

Comedy Date movie DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Romance School Stories about Teens

A Sneak Peek at Disney’s new “Pirate Fairy”

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm

From the world of “Peter Pan” comes “The Pirate Fairy,” a swashbuckling new adventure about Zarina (voice of Christina Hendricks), a smart and ambitious dust-keeper fairy who’s captivated by Blue Pixie Dust and its endless possibilities. When Zarina’s wild ideas get her into trouble, she flees Pixie Hollow and joins forces with the scheming pirates of Skull Rock, who make her captain of their ship. Tinker Bell (voice of Mae Whitman) and her friends must embark on an epic adventure to find Zarina, and together they go sword-to-sword with the band of pirates led by a cabin boy named James (voice of Tom Hiddleston), who’ll soon be known as Captain Hook himself. With laughter, heart, magic and thrills, “The Pirate Fairy” sets sail April 1, 2014.

 

Related Tags:

 

Trailers, Previews, and Clips
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik