Rock & Rule: The Animated Canadian Sci-Fi Musical I didn’t know I needed

 by isabelleglow

I watch a lot of movies. Often I find myself scrolling through 123movies, narrowly dodging popup ads for fantasy porn games and announcements that I had WON THE NEW iPad Pro!!!!!!! This is how I found Rock & Rule: one of the most bizarre animated movies I’ve had the pleasure/horror of watching. Other than the Care Bears movie which I still have nightmares about. And they were both made in the mid-80s by the same studio! Coincidence? I think not.    

The premise of Rock & Rule is intriguing at first look. You’ve got animated mutant humanoids playing electric guitars in a post-apocalyptic landscape, trying to save the world from some aging celeb who wants to destroy the world because people aren’t buying his albums anymore. The soundtrack is actually really impressive, with features from Lou Reed (wow!), Debbie Harry of Blondie fame (rad!), and Iggy Pop (he kind of scares me!). Considering how Canadian-based animation studio Nelvana got their hands on an $8 million production budget for the movie, you’d think the final product would be a home run. In reality, it was more of a single. Double? And imagine the theoretical baseball player doing the worm instead of running towards the base.   

In the beginning of the movie, you learn that a nuclear war had wiped out the human race, leaving a species of humanoid beings that evolved from rats.  I guess the 300 animators (yea) thought it would be easier to animate characters that were mostly human, because the only thing differentiating them from people are their weird M&M noses. Kind of like Roxanne in A Goofy Movie. Anyways, we’re introduced to Omar, Angel, Dizzy, and Stretch, friends and band members trying to make it big in Ohmtown where nobody gives a shit about them. Did I mention Omar’s last name is Quaalude? Mok Swagger, an older rockstar losing popularity, wants to destroy the world and become immortal because people aren’t buying his new album. Mr. Swagger needs to find the perfect voice that will allow him to summon a demon to be successful with his plan, and that voice belongs to Angel. He kidnaps her, her friends travel to the metropolis of Nuke York to save her, blah blah blah…you didn’t come here for a plot summary. Or maybe you did but I’m not giving that to you. All you need to know is that they save the universe with the ~power of music and friendship!~ <3    

While the movie was still in production, MGM Studios picked it up but quickly lost interest. Because of this, Rock & Rule got almost no theatre time and went straight to DVD, leading to pretty depressing box office sales. This almost destroyed Nelvana as a company, and if they hadn’t started working full-time on kids shows they definitely wouldn’t still be around. The more I started looking into the movie’s background, the more chaotic it got: apparently, MGM was like “we don’t like the guy voicing Omar!” so they just replaced him with another dude for the U.S. version. When a magazine interviewed Lou Reed for one of the only promotional pieces the film would get, they incorrectly credited him as the voice of Mok which led to even more confusion. Essentially, the dumpster fire that was the marketing for this film only dug it deeper into the ground.    So, should you watch it? Sources say…sure, whatever. If you like 1981s Heavy Metal, imagine this as it’s weird younger cousin that they’re forced to bring to parties. Yeah, the plot is sort of all over the place and Omar is a pretentious rodent who would probably gaslight you IRL, but you should stay for the killer soundtrack and campy 80s animation. 

Categories: isabelle glow, November 17, 2020, review, Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: