Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Movies from my childhood (part 1): Rock-A-Doodle, Fluke, and The Iron Giant

When I was young, my dad had partial custody of me. I'd go over to his house every other weekend and see him for two hours every Wednesday night. Every weekend I'd spend at his house, we'd go to one of the three supermarkets in the area (either Brookshire's, Tom Thumb, or Kroger) and pick up food and other things for the weekend. This always happened in the three years when I was between the ages of 7 and 10. Being an adolescent meant that I had to get a movie every weekend, no questions asked. These movies ranged from The Indian in the Cupboard to the Garfield animated series (on VHS, of course), but there were always three movies that I'd rent multiple times:

Rock-A-Doodle (1992)
This was my favorite movie, hands down. Released in 1992, it follows an animated rooster dressed like Elvis named Chanticleer as he battles an evil monocled-owl named the Grand Duke (who wants to eat everyone). It's a lot more interesting than that, and includes a live-action opening sequence that morphs to animation, but I'm sure you get the idea. Chanticleer's job in the movie was to wake up the sun with his singing, as shown in this clip:

Basically, the Duke wanted to kidnap or otherwise harm Chanticleer so he couldn't do his job, and it would be night all the time (or something like that, I haven't seen it in years, gimme a break).
I got high off this shit. Seriously, just watching the above video makes me lightheaded and giddy. But what makes this so different from any other animated movie I liked as a child was the fact that there were no toys based on the characters. At all. Actually, I'm not sure if there were, but I definitely didn't see any. I don't even think they had a fast food tie-in to market it. But the fact that I could love a movie so much at this age and not be able to make my own stories involving the characters spoke measures as to how much I liked this film. I even disliked Elvis (and still do), and that opening song still brings a smile to my face.

Fluke (1995)I just watched the second half of this movie last night on STARZ at 1:30 in the morning. Though I'm not entirely sure why a family movie would be playing so damn late at night, it still prompted me to write this post today. It follows Fluke, a golden retriever with the personality and memories of a human. Essentially, Fluke used to be a husband and father in a past life, and begins to remember some details about his family that make him want to find them. Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson is in it, along with Hellboy's Ron Perlman. It's a cute movie, and they didn't attempt to make it terrible by making the animal's mouths move. Taking that into consideration, it was basically Homeward Bound with just the two dogs and a religious undertone. Weird.
It is strikingly similar to Jack Frost (the non-horror one) too, even down to the father's death (dying in a car accident). But Fluke was made first, so I guess Jack Frost ripped it off.

The Iron Giant (1999)I love this movie so much. Directed by Brad Bird (who has now moved on to Pixar and has directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille) and starring Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Anniston, it looks and feels way ahead of its time.
Set in 1957, it follows a sci-fi obsessed boy named Hogarth who discovers a giant robot from an alien planet. The robot remembers nothing of his past, and is something of a gentle giant. Hogarth's small town is soon occupied by the US government, specifically by an agent named Kent Mansley. Mansley becomes suspicious of Hogarth, and everything unravels from there.
As a kid, this movie was amongst my favorites. It taught me things about the era and such, rather than dumbing things down for me. Even today, this remains one of my absolute favorite movies. I introduced my brother to it and now he enjoys it as well. It is one of the better-made half-digital, half-drawn animated features, made during a time when animation companies were just beginning to utilize this technology. It is a truly underrated and wonderful movie.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Vin Diesel voices the robot. So remember, if you need anyone to grunt in to a microphone like a robot, Vin is your man. Figures.

I found The Iron Giant for $5 a few months ago, and nearly shat myself. I must track down these other two on DVD. I have to own them, and relive my childhood. Fluke is on TV all the time for some reason, but I haven't seen hide nor hair of Rock-A-Doodle since the good 'ol days. Next time I go into work though, I'll be sure to rent and write about it (assuming we have it).
If you guys liked this post, let me know. I want to do a second one about We're Back!, Cats Don't Dance, and Warriors of Virtue. But I'll only do it if you guys are interested. Let me know using the ratings system or comments.


henni☮™ said...

Rock-A-Doodle will always be the best movie from any child who grew up in the late 80's/early 90's. In addiction to the Secrets of Nimh.

Caitlin H said...

HOLYSHITROCKADOODLE!!!!! That was my FAVORITE movie when I was little. Well, that and Thumbelina (because "she is little like me!") and Fern Gully (that really scared the shit out of me). I have literally scoured the internet trying to find Rock-a-Doodle and can't find it ANYWHERE. Please let me know if you find it. Seriously.

Caitlin H said...

Oh and both Fluke and The Iron Giant ALWAYS make me sob like a freaking baby. Both excellent movies. And We're Back! for the next one? That was another favorite movie that absolutely terrified me.
What about The Pagemaster? that was a good one too.

Ashley P. said...

Holyfuckinggoddamnshitfuck Rock-A-Doodle is the most elusive children's movie of all time. Christ. I found a few on Amazon, so I'm going to purchase that shit and we're going to watch it because it has not left my mind since we had that conversation about Rock-A-Doodle a few.. weeks...? ago.

We're Back! and Cats Don't Dance were awesome too. I really enjoyed The Brave Little Toaster, FernGully, The Great Mouse Detective and Fievel Goes West as a kid. God. I miss good kid's movies.