Rock-a-Doodle is a 1991 animated musical comedy/fantasy film loosely based on Edmond Rostand's comedy Chantecler. This film was directed by Don Bluth, produced by Goldcrest Films and released The Samuel Goldwyn Company and Hemdale Pictures Corporation originally, and currently by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and originally released in the United Kingdom and in Ireland on August 2, 1991, and in the United States on April 3, 1992. The film features the voices of Glen Campbell, Christopher Plummer, Phil Harris, Charles Nelson Reilly, Sorrell Booke, Sandy Duncan, Eddie Deezen, Ellen Greene and Toby Scott Ganger.
Chanticleer (Glen Campbell) is a proud rooster whose crowing wakes the sun up 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 gets in a fight with another rooster that was sent by the Grand Duke of Owls (Christopher Plummer), whose kind can't stand the sunlight. 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 beginning the Grand Duke's reign of terror on the farm.
The story is revealed to be a storybook that a mother named Dory (Dee Wallace) reads to her son, Edmond (Toby Scott Ganger). Edmond grows concerned when his farm becomes flooded from the rain. When Edmond's father, Frank, calls the family to help save the farm, his mother forbids Edmond to go out and help his two older brothers, Scott and Mark. Edmond realizes that Chanticleer is the answer to the problem and yells for him, only to summon the Duke himself. The Duke turns Edmond into a kitten for trying to interfere with his plans. Just as the Duke is about to devour Edmond, he is saved by Patou (Phil Harris), the basset hound who attacks the Duke and Edmond drives the Duke off with a flashlight, as light is the owls' only weakness. Edmond also meets a magpie named Snipes (Eddie Deezen) and a mouse named Peepers (Sandy Duncan), who do not believe Edmond was once a human boy, but tell him they are journeying to the city to find Chanticleer. While the rest of the animals stay at Edmond's farm, Edmond, along with Patou, Snipes, and Peepers, sail to the city in a trunk. The Duke sends his nephew Hunch (Charles Nelson Reilly) to stop the crew from reaching the city, but Hunch fails to catch them.
Once they reach the city, they discover Chanticleer has taken the moniker "The King" in an Elvis-style show where he sings for an audience. As a distraction, his manager, Pinkie Fox (Sorrell Booke), who had been hired by the Duke to keep Chanticleer away from the farm, gets a chorus singer pheasant named Goldie (Ellen Greene) to distract him. Chanticleer is immediately smitten with Goldie, but she resents him for taking the public's attention away from her. When Edmond tries to talk to Goldie about Chanticleer, she mistakes him for the bad kitty told by Pinkie and chases him away. After a time, Goldie begins to reciprocate Chanticleer's feelings and tells him that his friends had come to find him.
In the meantime, Edmond and the others are captured and imprisoned by Pinkie and his guards to keep them from contacting Chanticleer and are locked in his trailer. Pinkie turns on Goldie for informing Chanticleer of what has happened and blackmails Chanticleer with the possible threat of killing his friends into continuing with his movie. Edmond and the others manage to escape, though (thanks to Hunch's intervention), and with Goldie and Chanticleer in tow, they make their way back to the farm. The Duke and his minions have been waiting on the farm animals' supply of batteries to run out on their flashlight. They nearly make a meal out of them, but are driven away by the spotlight of the helicopter Edmond and the others are flying.
Edmond and the others try to get Chanticleer to crow, but he is out of practice and soon gives up. The Duke taunts Chanticleer in his stupor and strangles Edmond into unconsciousness when he tries to raise Chanticleer's spirit by chanting his name. Inspired by Edmond's selflessness and bravery, the other animals begin to chant Chanticleer's name in unison. Infuriated, the Duke transforms himself into a tornado to destroy the farm and the animals. However, Chanticleer finally regains his confidence and crows loud enough for the sun to rise, shrinking the Duke into a harmless pipsqueak. Hunch, eager for revenge towards all the abuse from his uncle, attacks him with a flyswatter and chases him away.
The floods begin to subside. Believing that Edmond died, the animals mourn him until he transforms back into a human boy since his punishment ended because he learned the error of his ways and stopped being afraid. Edmond awakens in his own room to his mother's voice, having been knocked unconscious by a tree that had crashed into his bedroom. He realizes it's morning and the sun had come out to save the farm from destruction. His mother suspects he had a dream, but Edmond is convinced it was real. After she leaves, Edmond, whose faith was restored in the characters, is now allowed to visit and watch as Chanticleer sings to raise the sun. As he is transported, all of his animal friends are happy to see him alive, well and human again.
- Glen Campbell as Chanticleer, the protagonist and a rooster who lives on a farm with many other animals, who are fond of and love him. When the sun rises without his crowing, his friends, believing he was lying to them about how his crowing brought up the sun (a fact he himself thought was true), leave him, leading to the adventures of Edmond and the others. In a miserable state, he goes to the city and becomes a popular singer. Through his manager Pinkie, he meets Goldie and falls in love at first sight with her. Soon, though, his friends come to the city and apologize. He and Goldie are then brought back to the farm, so he can save it. He is also based on the superstar Elvis Presley.
- Toby Scott Ganger as Edmond, the son of a human farmer and the human protagonist of the film. He is transformed into a kitten by the Grand Duke as punishment for trying to summon back Chanticleer and is the one who organizes the farm animals to bring Chanticleer back to the farm after the flooding starts. He slowly begins to learn the errors of his ways and he stops being afraid. Also he likes paper airplanes.
- Ellen Greene as Goldie, a pheasant and singer also in Pinky's employment. She initially dislikes Chanticleer for stealing her spotlight, but falls in love with him upon becoming more acquainted with him, in one part of the movie Pinky told her that Edmond was a bad kitty but he wasn't.
- Phil Harris as Patou, a Basset Hound who's a good friend to both Chanticleer and Edmund and plays the narrator character of the story. He despises the Grand Duke and is dedicated to Edmund's cause to bring Chanticleer back home. He is brave and reasonable, but somewhat temperamental. His endeavor to find Chanticleer is hampered by the fact that he does not know how to tie his shoes (which he wears because of bunions). However, in the end, he finally figures out how to tie them right. This is Harris's last and final role before his retirement from acting and his death in 1995.
- Eddie Deezen as Snipes, a magpie. He, Edmund, Patou, and Peepers travel to the city in a toybox floating on the floodwaters, with Snipes more interested in exploring the city and its sights than actually helping his friends. Being claustrophobic, this poses a problem when he pokes holes in the box trying to escape and reach open air. He hates garbage and dirt, but loves the food served in the city when they go inside a restaurant where Chanticleer sings, particularly lasagna.
- Sandy Duncan as Peepers, a mouse. Because of this, she is initially terrified of Edmond, but he tries to convince everyone that he used to be a boy. She was willing to forgive him for being a cat if he took her and the others to the city. It is not until the very end of the movie that she believes him and comments "He was a little boy.... oh, he was a handsome little boy…." She has a lisp and very round glasses and is constantly arguing with Snipe's chauvinistic views.
- Christopher Plummer as the Grand Duke of Owls, a magical owl who despises Chanticleer and the main antagonist of the film. He overhears Edmund's call for Chanticleer in the real world and transforms him into a kitten as punishment, planning to eat him. The Duke hates his nephew and threatens several times to kill him if he fails. The Duke is a malevolent powerful creature of the night with a penchant for eating smaller animals as meals and commanding other villainous owls to do his bidding. He hates sunlight, like all owls, and recoils when light shines on him. Also, he possesses magical breath that can transform anyone into any creature as exampled when he turns Edmund into his kitten form.
- Charles Nelson Reilly as Hunch, the Grand Duke's pygmy owl nephew and lead henchman. Hunch enjoys rhyming words with "aggravation" and humming "The Ride of the Valkyries". He is dimwitted, but extremely aggressive. He carries an all-purpose Swiss Army Knife in a lidless soda can strapped to his back and uses its various bladed objects, tools and household objects (like a flyswatter) as weapons. A small running gag in the movie was that whenever the Duke would breathe on him, his magic would transform Hunch into a randomly different creature.
- Sorrell Booke as Pinky, an obese fox who favors golf. He is also Chanticleer's manager in the city. His job is to ensure that Chanticleer never feels the compulsion to return home by convincing him that his friends hate him, making it easy to profit off of Chanticleer's singing skills. He secretly works for the Grand Duke of Owls and he lies to Goldie about Edmond being the bad guy, This is Booke's last and final role before his retirement from acting, and his death in 1994.
- Will Ryan as Stuey, a chronically nervous pig. Whenever anybody mentions the owls he'll start to freak out and in the movie he'll sometimes snort and whimper
- Stan Ivar as Frank, Edmond's father
- Christian Hoff as Scott, one of Edmond's older brothers
- Jason Marin as Mark, one of Edmond's older brothers
Video release history
- Rock-a-Doodle was first released on VHS and Laserdisc on August 18, 1992, as well as on DVD on July 20, 1999 by Hemdale Home Video and HBO Video. 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 Penguin as a double-sided DVD.
- The theatrical and early DVD releases have music ending on just the Don Bluth logo, and the Goldcrest logo has no music. The VHS release has music on both the Don Bluth & Goldcrest logos. The MGM DVD obscures the Don Bluth logo and only shows the Goldcrest & MGM logos, so don't expect to see the same version twice.