The creators of the charming and imaginative THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER have joined forces with comedian Rodney Dangerfield on ROVER DANGERFIELD, an animated vanity production that seeks to transplant Dangerfield's ribald nightclub persona into a tubby cartoon dog. The result is a confused
hybrid creation, suspended in a twilight zone between Don Bluth's benign but dull children's fare and Ralph Bakshi's gratingly hip work.
Rover Dangerfield (voice of Rodney Dangerfield) is a street-smart mutt whose owner, Connie (Shawn Southwic), is a blonde and beautiful Las Vegas showgirl. But her sleazy, Chester Gould-esque boyfriend, Rocky (Sal Landi), takes a disliking to Rover and when Connie leaves to go on the road, he
shoves Rover in a sack and chucks him off the Hoover Dam. Rescued by two fishermen, Rover finds himself in the country, where he is taken in by a farmer and his little boy Danny (Dana Hill). Out in the country, Rover's urban style is seemingly useless, although he does manage to fall in love with
the girl dog next door, Daisy (Susan Boyd).
Gradually, Rover manages to adapt to farm life but this idyll is shattered when the farmer mistakenly thinks that Rover has killed his prize turkey. Taking Rover into the woods to shoot him, the farmer is attacked by a pack of wolves. Rover comes to the rescue to save the farmer and becomes a
local celebrity. When Connie sees his picture in a Las Vegas newspaper, she arranges to pick up Rover and take him back to the city. But back in Las Vegas, Rover is depressed. Connie drives back to the farm and Rover is reunited with Daisy, who surprises him with a tiny brood of puppies.
Dangerfield's brilliantly honed comic persona is that of a crude, loudmouthed loser who defends himself against an uncaring world with harsh insults. ("Rodney, what do you do for a living?" "What do I do for a living? I get guys for your sister.") In his film work, Dangerfield has tapped into this
persona, toned down the undercurrent of anger, and in his most successful efforts, CADDYSHACK and BACK TO SCHOOL, turned him into an ultra-rich, no-nonsense lout. When he's tried to make himself endearing, as in EASY MONEY, the result has been too cloying by far.
Much to the detriment of ROVER DANGERFIELD, it is the kinder, gentler Rodney that finds his way into the film and this attempt to turn the Dangerfield persona into a lovable and cute cartoon character short-circuits the entire movie. If Dangerfield had extended his original persona into the
cartoon and stuck to life in Las Vegas, ROVER DANGERFIELD might have worked as a sassy, irreverent LADY AND THE TRAMP. As it is, however, when Rover gets to the farm and must bounce his cracks off of cute but harmless barnyard animals, the promising hard edge is encrusted with treacle--it's quite
a jump from "I love your pom-poms" to "I'd give up a bone for you."
But ROVER DANGERFIELD could still have been saved if the animation was creative and unique. Alas, it's extremely variable--from the undistinguished farm animals, to the menacing Rocky, to the comic Rover. The film begins with a promising parody of the computer-animated opening tracking shot from
Disney's THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER but rapidly descends to a cut above Saturday morning cartoon fare; the contrast between the computer-enhanced images and the shoddy cel work is jolting. Without a careful transition between the two elements, the film looks hurried and cheap, as if made by
committees in different countries.
At the end of the film, Rover talks to himself under a tree and, like Woody Allen in HUSBANDS AND WIVES, bemoans his fate by sighing "I blew it." Since Rodney Dangerfield wrote and produced ROVER DANGERFIELD, along with supplying the title voice and writing the songs, it is not Rover who blew it,
but Rodney himself.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: G
- Review: The creators of the charming and imaginative THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER have joined forces with comedian Rodney Dangerfield on ROVER DANGERFIELD, an animated vanity production that seeks to transplant Dangerfield's ribald nightclub persona into a tubby carto… (more)