Not to worry if 2014’s Rooster Doodle Doo flew below your CG animated feature radar. Its direct-to-DVD release here in the US was modest at best despite receiving distribution from omnipresent Universal Pictures.
The film is actually a French Canadian production known as Le Coq de St-Victor or as that translates in English: The Rooster of St. Victor. It was released originally in Canada on February 21, 2014, comes in at a run time of 80-minutes and is in fact based upon the children’s book The Rooster of San Vito by Johanne Mercier. The piece was adapted for film and directed by Pierre Greco.
The story tells of the villagers of tiny but quaint St. Victor who are beyond fed up with the mayor's rooster, whose crow wakes them daily at 4am. After a brief bout with insomnia himself, the rooster begins to crow even earlier than usual, prompting the villagers to stop complaining and start taking action.
When the mayor unveils a golden statue of his prized pet, the villagers begin to use the public forum to demand a quick exit for said rooster- the living one, not the statue. When the mayor of a neighboring village serendipitously shows up with an offer to trade his lucky donkey for the noisy fowl, the villagers are thrilled, and, against his better judgment, convince the mayor to part with his beloved rooster.
Now, finally able to rest peacefully, the villagers quickly become acquainted with a life of laziness, opting to spend their days swimming in the mill pond rather than turning wheat into flour and playing golf rather than growing essential crops.
As you may have seen coming, before long the town begins running out of food and the neighboring village, you know- the one that convinced them to part with their rooster in the first place, suddenly benefits from a whole lot of desperation-induced business.
Realizing the error in their reasoning, Florence the baker and Lucien the carpenter have a complete change of heart and begin concocting a plan to get the rooster back.
By itself, it’s a charming little anecdote; almost the type of fable one would expect to have been handed down through the generations years and years ago. Its got irony, some clever lessons on motivation and the value of a hard day’s work. Unfortunately what it lacks is a solid enough hook to be worthy of 80-minutes of animated feature film.
While what’s there is certainly watchable, domestic audiences, (especially the younger ones) will undoubtedly feel unsure about such things as the time-frame, the locale, the characterizations and so on. I mean after all, can it be assumed modern youngsters grasp the connection between the wheat in the fields, the grain in the loft of the mill and the bread on the dinner table? And even if they could, is there much relatability to a rooster-adoring, bicycle-riding mayor who finds himself at the mercy of his disgruntled subjects to the point of being forced into a livestock exchange?
It all comes off as antiquated at best and foreign at worst. At some points, a combination of the two. To make matters worse, the pacing suffers pretty steadily throughout. There’s enough material here to make a decent 23-minute time slot but having to push it to 80-minutes means a lot of meandering around for a fairly lackluster payoff.
Perhaps most noteworthy of the project, however, is a very unique look to the art and animation style. While CG is often criticized for looking too uniformally perfect, too sterile; Rooster Doodle Doo brings a pallet and style that seems to almost combine the simplistic sensibilities of the 2D (hand drawn) era with the type of camera angles only possible through CG. It’s pretty endearing.
Overall though it is difficult to recommend Rooster Doodle Doo on account of its poor pacing and failure to ever introduce a character or plot element that can easily be latched onto. There are some very good elements present, especially within the moral of the story itself but sadly the delivery isn’t subtle or clever enough to warrant the 80-minute investment required.