Misunderstood Masterpieces - ROCK & RULE
For a couple years when cable television first arrived at my parents' house, they decided to subscribe to Showtime. I guess it was to have the chance to view the programming that they had on the channel but I never knew for sure because I don't remember either of my parents actually watching that channel. It would appear that this choice was made to appease the younger members of the household.
Back in those days (aka the early to mid 80s), the subscription movie channels only ran anything rated higher than a PG after 8pm. You would never find a BAD BOYS on at 11:30am back then. This tended to feed the need for a lot of programming to fill up the daytime hours. Along with the cheesy 70s kid films both animated and live action, there were a couple random pieces of diamond to appear amid all of the coal.
ROCK & RULE is an animated film that didn't have quite the easiest of releases but that's what happens when you bring the completed film in a year late and nearly every motion picture company board member that okayed your little film had already been fired. After a couple showings in the Boston area, the film was out of circulation before the end of 1983. It was probably a nobrainer for the cable channels to snap this one up.
The story of an evil rock musician named Mok and his attempt to bring forth an evil demon sounded a little farfetched even for the child version of me. This film has two things seriously going for it - the general creativity and the music.
I'll talk about the music first. You can't have the ROCK in the title without the rock music and they went a very interesting way with this film. It was decided to find current rock stars to perform as the characters in the film. It's sort of like the state of my Disney films where you have one person doing the dialogue and another doing the singing. For the singing part of the film, you have Robin Zander of Cheap Trick as the male lead and Debbie Harry as the female lead. Mok's voice vocals are supplied by Lou Reed and, in an interesting bit of casting, Iggy Pop gets to be the voice of the demon. Throw in an uptempo Earth, Wind, & Fire song and you have all of the musical bases covered.
When I saw this film for the first time, I knew who Debbie Harry and EW&F were, but that was about it. This was my first time hearing Cheap Trick and Lou Reed. The Cheap Trick performances seriously won me over. If I had to point to where my interest in them first started, it would be here. All of the music is great and it really brings the film to life in many ways.
Which leads me to the whole creativity aspect of this story. This film worked in so many of the rock cliches and put them to very good use. Mok, from what some of the people that worked on the film have said, is based mainly on the look of Mick Jagger but they threw in some Bowie and Pop to round out the character. He seems like the prototypical over the top rock singer that thinks he can do as he pleases. All of the characters tend to resemble their voices even down to the members of the hero's band that look vaguely like the other members of Cheap Trick. The script might be a little weak in places but it never slows down and keeps right on moving to the end.
There are many people that have probably never heard of ROCK & RULE and I think that that is a bad thing. While this film isn't going to solve world peace, it is definately an exciting animated musical with just enough humor to make it through. Watching this film again was sort of like going back to those days of watching various cable channels to pass the summer afternoons at home. Now if they can only release ANIMALYMPICS...