Rock-a-Doodle is a 1991 animated musical film loosely based on Edmond Rostand's comedy, Chantecler. This film was directed by Don Bluth, produced by Goldcrest Films for The Samuel Goldwyn Company, and originally released in the United Kingdom and in Ireland on August 2, 1991, and in the United States on April 3, 1992.
Chanticleer (Glen Campbell) is a proud rooster whose singing wakes the sun every morning, or so the other farm animals believe. His singing keeps the other animals happy, and the farm free from downpours. However, one morning, Chanticleer is attacked by a rooster sent by the "Grand Duke of Owls" (Christopher Plummer). Chanticleer wins but forgets to crow, and the sun rises without his singing. The other animals reject him and drive him out of the farm, causing a perpetual rainstorm and the beginning of the Grand Duke's reign of terror on the farm. The story is then revealed to be a storybook that a mother (Kathryn Holcomb) is reading to her child Edmond (Toby Scott Ganger), who is becoming increasingly concerned about the impending flood on the family's farm.
As his mother leaves to help battle the storm, Edmond calls for Chanticleer to come back. He is instead confronted by the Grand Duke of Owls, who expresses anger over Edmond's lack of consideration for the needs of the owls and subsequently transforms Edmond into a kitten as punishment. Before the Grand Duke can devour Edmond, he is distracted by the appearance of Patou the Basset Hound (Phil Harris), and is driven away by the shine of a flashlight which is the only weakness against him, thanks to Edmond. Astonished by his transformation, the farm animals tell Edmond that they also seek Chanticleer's return, as his crowing is the only thing that can bring sunlight back to their farm. Edmond teams up with Patou, the magpie Snipes (Eddie Deezen) and the cute and lovely mouse Peepers (Sandy Duncan) and they make their way to a Las Vegas-like city, where they hope to find Chanticleer.
Meanwhile, at the Grand Duke's lair (where he creates rainclouds through the use of a gigantic pipe organ), the Grand Duke is alerted of Edmond's journey to the city by his pygmy nephew Hunch (Charles Nelson Reilly), who the Grand Duke then sends off to stop Edmond and the other animals, who are floating on the flood. After fending off an attack from Hunch and the rest of the Grand Duke's owl henchmen, Edmond and the others finally reach the city, where they begin their search for Chanticleer. After a few hours, they finally find Chanticleer, who is now making a living as a famous Elvis impersonator, arousing the jealousy of a fellow performer, a beautiful and sexy pheasant named Goldie (Ellen Greene).
Edmond and friends try to talk to Chanticleer, but are pushed aside by a group of singing bodyguard toads led by Chanticleer's manager, Pinky (Sorrell Booke). Once the Grand Duke finds out where they went, he sends Hunch after them, but fearing the bright lights of the city, the Grand Duke gives him a pair of protective sunglasses to prevent the light from hurting him. The flood worsens and the farm animals lose communication with Edmond and the others as the Grand Duke and his owls wait for the batteries in the animals' flashlight to run out, knowing that it will run out eventually. Later, the Grand Duke alerts Pinky (who is soon revealed to be his henchman) of a certain dog, cat, bird, and mouse coming to bring Chanticleer back to the farm and warns him that the results could be disasterous for them both. As a result, Pinky is forced to restrict dogs, cats, birds, and "mices" from entering Chaintcleer's concert, and Edmond and his friends disguise themselves and manage to send a note to Chanticleer, but he is distracted by Goldie, who has fallen in love with him, depite Pinky telling Goldie to only pretend to do so in order to keep Edmond away from the rooster.
Edmond's attempt to reason with Goldie results in him and his friends being captured by Pinky and his bodyguards and locked away in a trailer. Unbeknownst to Pinky, Goldie sees this and realizes her mistake. Meanwhile, Hunch breaks into the trailer and tries to do away with the group, but his failure inadvertently sets them all free. Out of guilt, Goldie shows Chanticleer the note that Edmond sent him and tells him that Pinky has his friends locked away, much to Pinky's disgust. Although Chanticleer now realizes the truth, Pinky blackmails him with the lives of his friends into continuing his carreer, but soon, Chanticleer and Goldie ride off on a prop motorcycle to save them. Chanticleer and the gang manage to flee from Pinky and his goons in an intense car chase and steal a helicopter, which they use to make their way back to the farm, where the farm animals have run out of batteries in their flashlight and are about to be eaten by the Grand Duke and his owls.
After using the helicopter's searchlight to temporarily drive off the owls, Edmond and the others try to get Chanticleer to crow, but he's out of practice and soon gives up. The Duke taunts Chanticleer in his stupor and strangles Edmond when he chants for Chanticleer. Awed by Edmond's courage, Patou and the other animals chant the rooster's name in unison, causing the Duke to transforming himself into a tornado.
Finally regaining his confidence, Chanticleer crows loud enough for the sun to rise, shrinking the Duke down to a harmless miniature version of himself and Hunch, eager for revenge, attacks his uncle with a flyswatter. The floods begin to subside. Believing Edmond died, the animals mourn him until he transforms back into a human since his punishment is over and Edmond learned the error of his ways and stop being afraid. Edmond awakes in the real world, where it is assumed by Edmond's mother that his adventures were just a dream. Nevertheless, Edmond still believes in Chanticleer, causing the real world and Chanticleer's world to merge into one.
- Glen Campbell as Chanticleer
- Toby Scott Ganger as Edmond
- Phil Harris as Patou
- Eddie Deezen as Snipes
- Sandy Duncan as Peepers
- Christopher Plummer as the Grand Duke of the Owls
- Charles Nelson Reilly as Hunch
- Sorrell Booke as Pinky
- Ellen Greene as Goldie
- Will Ryan as Stuey
The original songs were written and produced by T.J. Kuenster.
- "Sun Do Shine" by Glen Campbell
- "We Hate the Sun" by Christopher Plummer
- "Come Back to You" by Glen Campbell
- "Rock-a-Doodle" by Glen Campbell
- "Bouncers" Theme Song by The Don Bluth Players
- "Tweedle te Dee" by Christopher Plummer
- "Treasure Hunting Fever" by Glen Campbell
- "Sink or Swim" by Ellen Greene
- "Kiss 'n Coo" by Glen Campbell & Ellen Greene
- "Back to the Country" by Glen Campbell
- "The Owls Picnic" by Christopher Plummer
- "Tyin' Your Shoes" by Phil Harris
- "Sun Do Shine" (Reprise) by Glen Campbell
The background vocals on "Sun Do Shine," "Come Back To You," "Rock-A-Doodle," "Treasure Hunting Fever," "Sink or Swim," "Kiss 'n Coo," "Back to the Country," and "Tyin' Your Shoes" were sung by The Jordanaires, who were also known for backing up Elvis himself. The background vocals on "We Hate the Sun," "Tweedle Te Dee," and "The Owl's Picnic" were all sung by a triple-tracked T.J. Kuenster.
The staff of Halliwell's Film Guide commended its "excellent animation", but complained of the "poor and confusing narrative" that "rendered [it] pointless".
Its $11.6 million take at the U.S. box office forced Don Bluth's studio into liquidation half a year after its release. Moreover, a Hong Kong company, Media Assets, purchased Bluth's next Five films, We're Back! A Dinosaur Story, Thumbelina, A Troll in Central Park, The Pebble and the Penguin and Balto. None of these did any better than Rock-a-Doodle, commercially or critically. All of them preceded 1997's Anastasia, his comeback hit.
A book adaptation of the film, by Don Bluth and Chip Lovitt, was published by Troll Communications LLC (ISBN 0-8167-2475-X).
Video release history
Rock-a-Doodle was first released on VHS on August 17, 1992. It was first released on DVD by HBO Video on July 20, 1999. A second edition was released by Metro Goldwyn Mayer on November 8, 2005. In 2010, the film was released along with The Pebble and the Penguinas a double-sided DVD. The film is also currently available for instant streaming on Netflix
- This is the third Don Bluth film to be heavily edited before its release date to remove PG-level subject matter.
- This is also the only Don Bluth film to use two different aspect ratios. The animated segments are in 1.33:1, while the live action segments and finale were shot in 1.85:1. When viewed in Full Frame the live action segments are missing information.
- This is also Don Bluth's final film to be done with Ireland's Goldcrest Films.
- The month of February is Rock-A-Doodle Appreciation Month and is celebrated world-wide.