Keep on rockin' in the furry world: 'Rock Dog 2: Rock around the Park'
2017’s Rock Dog probably will never make lists of acknowledged “cult movies” published by the more “mainstream” movie press, but you could argue that just helps its cult movie street cred. Once a movie has become known enough to be catalogued and categorized, is it still really a cult object? Rock Dog, I predict, will continue to be largely forgotten in the annals of cinema, or even animation. Only the true, blue fans will remember.
Of course, those true, blue fans are furries. Rock Dog is a cult movie within the furry fandom. Put it another way, yeah, furries like Zootopia. On one hand, it makes sense furries would like it, but on the other hand it’s a beloved movie that was hailed as a classic by plenty of non-furries from it’s release. You can like Zootopia without joining the furry fandom pretty easily, but if you even saw Rock Dog and decided you liked it, you might want to check this furry thing out.
Which is not to say if you didn’t like the original, you have to turn in your conbadge. First of all, that would be gatekeeping, and that’s wrong. But second of all, Rock Dog is by no means a perfect movie. I loved it, but the sequel, Rock Dog 2: Rock around the Park, going to the 2020s equivalent of straight to video (it technically went to various streaming platforms first) makes sense.
In the movie Rock Dog, a dog named Bodi (voiced by Luke Wilson in the original, but replaced by Graham Hamilton for this sequel) became a rock star with magical rock powers. It’s like if he’s playing a really good guitar solo he can automatically activate Star Power, he doesn’t have to hold his guitar sideways like in Guitar Hero. He also saved some sheep from some wolves, earned his dad’s respect and just basically completed the to-do list for a children’s animated movie protagonist pretty well. It’s better than I just made it sound, really.
In this sequel, Bodi and his band True Blue go on tour with the pop star singer Lil’ Foxy (voiced by Kathleen Barr). Besides Bodi on lead vocals and guitar, Darma the fox (voiced by Ashleigh Ball, replacing Mae Whitman) plays bass and Germur the goat (voiced by Andrew Francis, replacing Jorge Garcia) plays drums. They’re a power trio band. Unfortunately for Bodi and True Blue, their manager, Mister Lang (voiced by Jason Simpson) is evil. It happens.
Lang’s trying to convince the denizens of Rock and Roll Park that it is about to be bulldozed, so that they will put on a benefit concert, which will allow him to steal all the music in the world. He builds a machine to steal Bodi’s magic especially, and he also convinces Bodi to dress like an Elvis impersonator and break up his band, which isn’t actually a necessary part of stealing Bodi’s powers. He’s just being a jerk, there.
The character of Lil’ Foxy a.k.a. Frances, the pop star vixen, is part of the scheme, but definitely not in on it. Lang sends Bodi to her to help convince him to “play the game” of being a pop star, which is supposed to be a bad thing, because Darma quits the band because of this. But Lil’ Foxy is actually really nice and works hard to get what she wants, and this isn’t just me defending her. The movie makes it clear, she’s a good guy. Which is kind of nice, but also, what’s Darma’s problem? There’s a tiny scene where they discuss maybe using pre-recorded music at a performance, but they don’t actually do that, so it comes off as Darma just doesn’t want to wear the dorky Elvis impersonator costume (which is kind of fair, actually).
Also, Darma called Bodi kind of cute last movie, and Bodi apparently has a crush on Lil’ Foxy this movie … and that’s it. Nothing on the romance front, either way. Bodi spends the movie surrounded by cute vixens, and he keeps everything professional. I mean, good on him, but this is really a kid’s movie.
One big problem with the movie is that they literally bring back every single character from the original (albeit with none of the original voice cast) except for the good one. Eddie Izzard’s Angus Scattergood is sorely missed here. That performance, to me, was the tang that turned the original movie’s sweet but nothing real unique kid’s movie experience into, well, the weird furry cult thing it is. To be clear, this sequel is fun, but that’s it. In fact, the character of Lil’ Foxy is a perfect metaphor for the movie. It, like her, is nice and well-meaning, works hard to accomplish its goals, but will still cause you to laugh unintentionally when it gets knocked out by the bad guy’s magical green guitar lasers for the second time in a row, seriously, I have not seen a cartoon vixen tank that much brain damage since Alopex, thank you for your contribution, Frances, couldn’t have done it without you.
That metaphor got might have got away from me a little bit.