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Nerdlocker Family Movie Review: Rock Dog


When I began the adventure of writing for Nerdlocker, I hadn’t considered the luck of including my family. We’ve enjoyed other events, though at the time, Littles wasn’t quite the attentive movie watcher we’d hoped for. Recently he notched, E.T., on his belt, so we hoped that the event and film, Rock Dog would prove entertaining for everyone.

The pre-showing party that Fons PR put together at Alamo Drafthouse turned out awesome. I was glad to see more activities to keep the kids entertained on their own, rather than exclusively by others. Both Bigs and Littles wanted their faces painted, and Kiwi Facepainting helped them become a tiger and a puppy.

Soon, we had our photos taken at a photo booth, then we created water color art and our own buttons. In the background, School of Rock Austin kept our feet and hands tapping and heads bobbing. I originally was a bit concerned for kids of different strokes, and how volume sometimes rubs them the wrong way, but it seemed that no one in the crowd was too bothered. I loved the cozier and more family atmosphere of this event, where it seemed that everyone was there for fun, not for free.

The event also scored big for us because it wasn’t overcrowded. This was good not only because we weren’t tromped on, but because kids didn’t have to wait for their food when we got in the cinema! Score!

Rolling from a traditional painted story, to a present-day scene, Rock Dog had a beautiful balance between origin and future. Sam Elliott, who is the voice of Fleetwood Yak, the films narrator, helped us through key moments and left us to watch intently otherwise.  Khampa, ( J.K. Simmons) cares for the safety of his village on Snow Mountain from . Though he takes his position seriously, he only wants best. Being a single-parent/father figure that wasn’t forced into a “bad guy” role was a great relief. Khampa knows music brings joy to the village, and Bodi, but their safety from the wolves who once attacked, takes priority. Khampa determines quickly to quell the music by locking it away. 

Bodi, Khampa’s son (Luke Wilson), has a true music lovers spirit mixed with a trusting heart he earned while living in the peaceful village. As he ages, he tries to keep on the path his father sees for him, but in his truest self his tune still returns. Bodi has the passion of an artist and wouldn’t let it go like a Mastiff, it was brilliant. He is good-natured, and never questioned another creatures character. Upon discovering a radio dropped by a passing airplane, Bodi’s thirst for music grows stronger. Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) is soon heard over the radio, and Bodi hangs on every word, deciding he will, “Never give up, even if his father says ‘No!'”.

Soon after his decision, chaos ensues, but destiny takes it’s truest path. On Bodi’s way leaving the village, Riff (Kenan Thompson) and his partner Carl (Will Finn) are on stake out for their mob-like leader, Linnux (Lewis Black). They keep close tabs on Bodi, and try many times to nab him through the movie.

Bodi heads to the city to find his way. With truth, belief and enthusiasm, he greets a new part of the world. We’re introduced to Darma (Mae Whitman), Germur (Jorge Garcia) and Trey (Matt Dillon), who all carry the same deep planted dream as Bodi; to share their sound with the world. They each carry a different aspect and view to the movie which helps create the world in which Bodi meets and learns to work in.

This movie is true to most children’s movies. Good perseveres, where bad fails. Bodi finds his inner power and not only fulfills his dreams but sticks to the path his father hoped for, making his father proud twice over. Those who needed to learn lessons did, and grew to be better for themselves and others for it.

I enjoyed that the lessons impressed upon in the movie weren’t taught with scare tactics, but shown with a gentle nature. If we remove ourselves from the crazy world we’re caught up in for a moment, and try to remember our more innocent and less restricted time, we can be grateful.

The film wasn’t exclusively geared to one particular age group, so the music was great. It wasn’t “current pop”, rather was varied so that it played to all ages. I could see grandparents, parents, teens, kids and toddlers all enjoying it equally, which they did. My Guy mentioned he enjoyed hearing Becks, “Dreams“, in the film. Here’s the soundtrack list.

Littles made it through this one! Though, we did bring a small bag of watermelon flavored popcorn from Austin Gourmet Popcorn, our favorite local popcorn shop which helped in the last 20 minutes, but he’s just a wiggler.

The union of Chinese and American production companies (Mandoo Pictures, Huayi Tencent Entertainment Company, Eracme Entertainment & Dream Factory Group) did a brilliant job. I’m beyond impressed in the workmanship and execution of the film. The teams weighed the story versus visual detail. We weren’t so entrapped by the picture that stopped hearing the stories progression. Also important, we never felt that they overused stock imagery (a big pet peeve of mine, usually). My Guy found their rain on cement work impressive, where I enjoyed their grass texture on the mountains appealing. The kids were that into the movie, that we were able to pay attention to these details.

This feature film is a good one for the family. Consider that different cultures tell stories with alternate styles or direction. Where you have seen many films geared heavily on one aspect, this film is evenly balanced and didn’t gamble on one strength. We look forward future films from these companies.

We give this film 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Check out the trailer for Rock Dogs below:


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