Even though ''Rock-A-Doodle'' does not find animator Don Bluth at the very top of his game, its animation is accomplished enough and its story finally manages enough emotional punch to make it an effective and enjoyable work. This story of a rooster whose crow can chase away the clouds should have broad appeal as a family feature and its success should be strictly a matter of marketing muscle.

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.


Samuel Goldwyn

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

See also

Credited With | External Sites