Rock & Rule

  • 1984
  • 1 HR 19 MIN
  • PG
  • Animated, Musical, Science Fiction

This was the first theatrical feature from Nelvana, a Canadian animation studio (named after a vintage Canadian comics superheroine), which had previously contributed to the adult cartoon omnibus HEAVY METAL (1981). ROCK & RULE plays like an extended installment of that earlier film, with all the attendant virtues and flaws. Mankind has perished in an...read more

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This was the first theatrical feature from Nelvana, a Canadian animation studio (named after a vintage Canadian comics superheroine), which had previously contributed to the adult cartoon omnibus HEAVY METAL (1981). ROCK & RULE plays like an extended installment of that earlier film,

with all the attendant virtues and flaws.

Mankind has perished in an apocalyptic war, and taking over from Homo sapiens is a bizarre lookalike civilization of creatures evolved from common--and very streetwise--animals. Foremost among them is reclusive rock-music megastar Mok (voice of Don Francks), who reacts to (barely) slipping album

sales by deciding to summon a demon via high technology. His computer indicates the key to the invocation is Angel (voice of Susan Roman), feline member of a struggling band in nearby Ohmtown. The baronial Mok tempts, cajoles, and finally abducts Angel, shoving aside bandmates like her canine

lover/frontman Omar (voice of Paul LeMat).

The group follows Mok's entourage to Nuke York, but are captured by Mok henchman during a search of the grotesque city's nightlife. Faced with the torture of her friends, Angel agrees to sing a diabolical melody that will literally raise hell during a Mok concert, but the attempt is a fiery

failure due to insufficient electrical current. Mok takes his act back to Ohmtown for a second try. Omar and his friends have been brainwashed into stupidity and bubblegum music, but they regain their senses when Mok's onstage ritual does indeed bring a bloodthirsty demon from another dimension.

By raising their voices against it in unison, Angel and Omar banish the beast back to the nether regions. Mok is thrown in after it by a rebellious bodyguard.

Why exactly Mok needs a demon is one of those nagging details that the flip script chooses to ignore. Logic takes a distant second to an often puerile, underground-comix sensibility. Major plot developments are missing entirely, the finale is a washout, and drug-culture gags abound. But as sheer

eye-candy, as perhaps it was meant to be, ROCK & RULE rules with superior fantasy-production designs and character conceptions, which, though owing quite a bit to the anthropomorphized animals of Ralph Bakshi, are a cut above the herd. Angel's sexy look was inspired by vocalist Debbie Harry, while

Mok, a wicked blend of aging Mick Jagger and enigmatic David Bowie, is almost a fun enough villain that he doesn't need motivation. Almost. He's raspily voiced by Canadian actor Don Francks, a galaxy away from his turn as a song-and-dance man in Coppola's FINIAN'S RAINBOW.

While voiceover artists do the dialogue, the highly listenable musical numbers feature the talents of contemporary rock stars: "Angel's Song," "The Invocation," and "Send Love Through" (written by Chris Stein and Debbie Harry; performed by Debbie Harry); "Pain and Suffering" (written by Iggy Pop

and Ivan Kraal; performed by Iggy Pop); "My Name Is Mok" and "Triumph" (written and performed by Lou Reed); "Born to Raise Hell," "I'm the Man," and "Ohm Sweet Ohm" (written by Rick Nielsen; performed by Cheap Trick); "Dance Dance Dance" (written by Beloyd Taylor; performed by Earth, Wind & Fire);

and "Hot Dogs & Sushi" (written by Patricia Cullen and Melleny Brown; performed by Melleny Brown).

Despite the replication of the HEAVY METAL formula, but without the graphic violence and nudity, the oddball feature, falling somewhere between adult and juvenile fare, never found an audience, and exhibition was minimal. Nelvana's subsequent theatrical output was 1985's THE CARE BEARS MOVIE and

its sequels, squeaky-clean fare pushing a line of American Greetings characters. Nelvana also found a niche in TV cartoons, with animated spinoffs of movies like "Beetlejuice" and the inescapable "Care Bears." (Substance abuse, sexual situations.)

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  • Released: 1984
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: This was the first theatrical feature from Nelvana, a Canadian animation studio (named after a vintage Canadian comics superheroine), which had previously contributed to the adult cartoon omnibus HEAVY METAL (1981). ROCK & RULE plays like an extended insta… (more)

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