A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to entertain, not inform, but teaches kids lessons about teamwork and determination.
Encourages finding your own specialness and then being determined, positive, and resourceful to make your way. Illustrates how the support of parents and caring adults builds a child's self-confidence and ability to persevere and face challenges. Teamwork and ingenuity are shown to defeat brute strength.
Positive Role Models
Bodi, who's passive at first, eventually finds the courage, smarts, and single-mindedness he needs to achieve his goals; he simply won't give up. His loving but controlling dad learns to trust his son and acknowledge his unique gifts. The villain is a cackling embodiment of greed and evil. No significant female characters.
Violence & Scariness
A wolf attack (not bloody) on a peaceful village of sheep sets up the story. From that point on, there's plenty of comic cartoon action: wild rides, chases, captures, falls, explosions, lasers, fire, electric shocks, etc. Bodi must outsmart a huge grizzly bear. A second, climactic wolf assault on the village has comic results.
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The wolf pack leader is a mean-spirited, name-calling bully (i.e. "stupid mutt," "twit"). There's also frequent use of "bloody."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rock Dog is an animated comedy about a dog named Bodi (voiced by Luke Wilson) who dreams of being a musician. After a radio literally falls into his life, Bodi leaves his post as a guard dog in the mountains and heads for the big city. There's lots of comic action -- a careening market cart, Bodi fighting a mighty grizzly bear, plus laser beams, bonks, chases, and captures -- as well as some suspenseful sequences in which wolves attack a peaceful village of sheep. For kids who are comfortable with pretend vs. real violence, the mayhem is more slapstick than scary, including the blustery, exaggerated evil of wolf pack leader Linnux (Lewis Black). Other than the peril/scary parts, there's little iffy content here ("twit" and "stupid" is as strong as the language gets). And the clear messages about perseverance, following your dreams, and teamwork are hard to miss. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With plenty of stunts, solid comic writing, and vivid performances, this Chinese/American co-production is aiming for a wide audience, including adults who often go grudgingly along for the ride. Izzard makes the most of her "diva" role, and Angus' mansion-studio is glorious. Simmons, Black, and Sam Elliott, with their distinctive voices, are quite entertaining, and Wilson brings emotional substance, along with humor, to Bodi.
More of an updated take on Looney Tunes than a Pixar-worthy achievement, Rock Dog (which is based on a popular Chinese graphic novel but was written and directed by American Pixar alum, Ash Brannon) offers fun, old-fashioned comic mayhem. Still, the musical numbers are only so-so, and there are some historical rock references that may go over the head of the younger audiences (though parents may appreciate them). But positive messages about independence, responsibility, and parent-child understanding are smoothly woven into the story, and the action is fine for kids who are clear about real vs. imaginary action.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.