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Movie Review: ‘Rock Dog’ Is One Note Short of Greatness

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Rock Dog Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Does Rock Dog turn it up to 11? Read our movie review to find out:

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]h, how I was pulling for Rock Dog. In a market crowded with animated features vying for the spotlight for all the attention and box office, it’s the smaller animated films that become easily lost in the shuffle.

It’s not so much that this was a cheap production given that it was produced by the Reel FX studio (The Book of Life) on a budget of $60 million with much Chinese backing. But the movie feels smaller in that there are no big names and that it’s a relatively original story. Well, about as original as one can get in a movie with anthropomorphized characters. And while I was surprised by how well most of the movie plays out, I still couldn’t help but feel it was missing something to make it really sing.

Rock Dog Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

‘Rock Dog’ heads to the big city.

A Tibetan Mastiff by the name of Bodi (Luke Wilson) desires to be a guitarist within his mountainside Tibetan village. His dreams are put on hold, however, as his protective father Khampa (J.K. Simmons) has high hopes for him to continue the family tradition of protecting the village full of sheep (literal) from the aggressive forces of threatening wolves (also literal). But when Bodi discovers a radio that drops into his village, he becomes inspired by the rock music in an overblown moment of transcendence. As with any kid bitten by the inspirational bug, he commits himself more to becoming a musician than mastering his father’s martial arts of shooting energy blasts at wolf enemies. A Kung Fu Panda plot just doesn’t suit his tastes.

His dad reluctantly agrees to let him go to the city to prove himself and his passion. Bodi appears overly chipper and optimistic about his musical journey that his smiling expression rarely changes, even in the demystifying moments of experiencing the city life. He’s so sure of his success that I doubt a mugger could have wiped the stupid grin off his face. This overconfidence comes in handy for trying to convince the rich rock star cat Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) to take him on as a student. Angus is insulting, selfish and crippled with a lack of creative juices to finish his single, but the persistent insistence of Bodi eventually convinces him to let him into his home and his studio. How could he not take on someone so willing to take multiple beatings from a security system of electric fences and giant robotic mice?

Rock Dog Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

The dream team.

The film works best with its two leads playing off of each other. Bodi’s endless supply of enthusiasm goes well with Angus’ passive scathing. As much as it’s hard to hate Bodi for his passion, it’s tough to despise Angus as the selfish celebrity that learns a lesson. He’s a bit of a hermit in that he rarely speaks to anyone outside his spacious mansion, but he seems to hold down conversations well enough with his silent robot butler (even when he’s offline). So vocal, physical and conflicted is this character that I’m surprised the movie wasn’t called Rock Cat. Or do cats not sell as well as dogs?

Related: Movie Review: ‘Logan’ is a Bold, Bloody, Badass Finale

The most admirable aspect about Rock Dog is how it never seems to go for the easiest jokes. There are no animal-centric gags where Bodi plays fetch or Angus sits on a litter box. This script would much rather be about characters and actually finds more humor in the dialogue than I expected. Some of them are even pleasant throwbacks to such gags as honking traffic to cover up a curse word.

Rock Dog Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

That’s one cool cat.

And for being a movie about music, there’s no instantly recognizable pop songs inserted. Bodi’s first stop on his city tour is a park of competing street musicians, each with their own style/genre and none of them doing silly renditions of familiar songs. True, this may make the film less memorable as its melodies are not exactly earworms, but after being bombarded with the pop music selections of Sing, it’s nice to finally hear something that hasn’t been blasted to death on the radio.

Read more for the rest of the Rock Dog movie review:

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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