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‘Rock-a-Doodle’ (G)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 03, 1992

Drawn from sources as diverse as "The Canterbury Tales" and "Viva Las Vegas," Don Bluth's "Rock-a-Doodle" is an exuberant live action and animated feature about a rockabilly rooster who runs afoul of fame in the Big City. Bursting with a cartoon energy and rousing songs, the story actually is a fond salute to Elvis Presley in poultry form. Glen Campbell is the voice of Chanticleer, a barnyard rooster whose crowing makes the sun rise. When he forgets to crow one morning and the sun comes up anyway, the downcast Chanticleer leaves for the city. And then it begins to rain and rain and rain. Terrified, the other animals send a delegation to find Chanticleer -- their only hope of saving the day.

In the meantime, a real little boy, Edmond (8-year-old Tony Scott Ganger), also becomes convinced that only the rockin' rooster's song can stay the flood that threatens the family's farm. When he is turned into a white kitten by an evil owl (Christopher Plummer, hooting it up), Edmond joins the search for Chanticleer. Others in the party are a smart mouse, a humble hound and mouthy magpie (squeaks, woofs and squawks courtesy of Sandy Duncan, Phil Harris and Eddie Deezen).

When the four finally arrive in the Big City, through a sewer pipe aboard the USS Toybox, they are so dazzled by the bright lights they nearly miss the obvious. Chanticleer, now known as the King, has become a rock star with a greedy manager, a pink helicopter, a girlfriend named Goldie (Ellen Greene's voice) and a phalanx of bodyguards. Edmond and friends try to contact Chanticleer, while meanwhile back on the farm, the waters continue to rise.

The animation is imaginative and lavish, especially the King's splashy stage numbers. And the wryly drawn characters -- hens literally faint at the sight of Chanticleer with his broad chest and his flaming comb -- are charmingly performed. The theme -- believe in yourself -- is a welcome one, especially coming from Bluth, who has subjected the little shavers to grimmer fare in earlier films such as "The Secret of NIMH" and "All Dogs Go to Heaven." It's so downright cute, in fact, I've gotta crow.

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