Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rock & Rule

(Clive A. Smith, 1983)
Nelvana's entry into the trippy-dippy adolescent animation market opened up by Gerald Potterton's "Heavy Metal" showcases comparably expansive design work, and certainly shows more conviction than their later resort to Care Bears cross-marketing. It is also less doggedly male-identified than its progenitor, with a strong female lead showing up her petulant-to-dorky male bandmates, although the same slack-jawed fascination with big boobs feels less integrated as a result. In fact, for all the adult language and stoner-pleasing psychedelics, this is of a piece with Nelvana's classic kiddie TV specials of the seventies - "The Devil and Daniel Mouse", "Rome-0 and Julie-8", etc - with the same eventful, deadpan humour and genuinely expressive, individuated characterization. Unfortunately it also ends the same way the specials always ended, with pretty boy and pretty girl joining together to vanquish Evil - this time personified by Mok, Don Francks' Jagger/Tyler-inspired rock and roll tycoon. In this context the device is not only lazily redundant, it's also incongruous in its conservatism, and deflates whatever iconoclasm the film had going for it. Compensating considerably is the frequently nifty soundtrack, including a mind-boggling Mok theme song prepared to order by none other than Lou Reed himself. Love the kiddie-show explication of good versus evil too.

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