The story opens on a family farm where the mother of a little boy named Edmond (Toby Scott Ganger) reads him a bedtime story about Chanticleer (Glen Campbell), a golden-voiced rooster. Chanticleer's animal constituency, a gaggle of farm animals, believes his crow brings the sun up, but when the henchman of an evil, darkness-loving owl, the Grand Duke (Christopher Plummer), tricks the proud cock into revealing the sun comes up on its own, the rooster leaves the farm, humiliated.
In a live-action sequence following the story, Edmond's farm is threatened by torrential rains; a lightning-shattered tree branch crashes into Edmond's room, knocks him out, and transports him into a magical, animated world where the Grand Duke turns the little boy into a kitten.
Realizing that only Chanticleer's crow can chase away the clouds, Edmond slips the clutches of the evil owl and his gang and joins up with Patou (Phil Harris), an old farm dog, Peepers (Sandy Duncan), a brave little mouse, and Snipes (Eddie Deezen), a dithering magpie. They go to the city where Chanticleer has become an Elvis-type pop star and, with the help of a bosomy pheasant showgirl, Goldie (Ellen Greene), save Chanticleer from his unhappiness and the farm from rain.
Although there are a few supporting characters (a bumbling owl, Hunch, voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly, and fat rock manager, Pinky, voiced by Sorrell Booke) and vignettes, the story stays pretty simple and easy to follow. The problem is that, while the variety of types keeps each character easily recognizable, no character has the range of expression Bluth characters usually do. Bluth also uses a paler selection of colors than he has in the past. Neither cripples the film, they just lessen the impact.
Always lauded for his technique, Bluth reveals here that the bedrock of his approach is a keen appreciation for emotional appeal. More a simple adventure story than he has ventured in the past, ''Rock-A-Doodle'' still pulls itself together at its finale and tugs all the right audience heartstrings in a sequence that goes from animation to live-action and then combines the two.
T.J. Kuenster's songs mimic old rock-and-roll and pop country styles with hand-clapping rhythms; they contribute mightily to the film's upbeat mood. Musically, however, the film lacks one big signature number.
One odd note: The film is some minutes shorter than usual, its running time considerably lengthened by an unusually long closing credit crawl.
Goldcrest Presents a Sullivan Bluth Studios Ireland Ltd. Production
Producers Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy
Director Don Bluth
Co-directors Gary Goldman, Dan Kuenster
Screenplay David N. Weiss
Musical score Robert Folk
Original songs T.J. Kuenster
Edmond Toby Scott Ganger
Chanticleer Glen Campbell
Patou Phil Harris
Grand Duke Christopher Plummer
Peepers Sandy Duncan
Goldie Ellen Greene
Snipes Eddie Deezen
Running time -- 74 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
(c) The Hollywood Reporter