Rover Dangerfield (1991)
Rover Dangerfield (1991)

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 14 min.

Release Date: August 2nd, 1991 MPAA Rating: G

Director: Jim George, Bob Seeley Actors: Rodney Dangerfield, Susan Boyd, Ronnie Schell, Shawn Southwick, Ned Luke, Dana Hill, Sal Landi, Tom Williams

 


 

M

erging Rodney Dangerfield’s riotous antics, snappy one-liners, and goofy expressions with a cartoon certainly sounds like a bizarre idea. Yet the resulting “Rover Dangerfield” is an intermittently hilarious and oftentimes unexpectedly entertaining blend of the iconic comic’s general zaniness, paired with all of the staples and limitlessness of an animated feature. Perhaps only one of the multiple songs is memorable and the “spoiled city boy stuck on a farm” plot is rather stale, but every time Rover’s rampant monologues and his googly-eyed countenance take center stage, there’s no shortage of laughs.

Rover Dangerfield (Rodney Dangerfield) loves his life in Las Vegas. Nonstop partying, gambling for bones, and avaricious girls fill his nights, while his days are spent lounging around with his owner Connie (Shawn Southwick), a lusty showgirl. His carefree customs quickly screech to a halt when Connie’s deadbeat boyfriend Rocky (Sal Landi) attempts to dispose of the cheeky hound. Dumped over the Hoover Dam, but miraculously surviving both the plunge and the merciless water (even his paws are tied and his mouth taped shut), he’s discovered by fishermen at the other end of the Colorado River.

When Rover comes to, he wanders off, only to find himself stranded on a farm in the country. He’s reluctantly taken in by farmer Cal (Gregg Berger) and his anxious son Danny (Dana Hill) and introduced to their clan of working dogs – including Raffles (Ned Luke), Max (Bert Kramer), Duke (Robert Pine), Lem (Dennis Blair), and Clem (Don Stuart). Rover soon realizes just how out of place he is when confronted with the daily chores and outdoor living conditions of rural conduct. Longing for his pampered days in Vegas, Rover is eager to flee – until he meets Daisy (Susan Boyd), the beautiful collie from a neighboring homestead. Torn between staying with his newfound love and returning to luxury with chorus girls, Rover’s dilemma worsens when he’s confronted with crafty wolves and blamed for the death of a scatterbrained turkey (Tress MacNeille).

The songs, all written and performed by Dangerfield himself (Billy Tragesser is also credited with music and lyrics on a few), are largely uninspired and forgettable, save for “I’ll Never Do It on a Christmas Tree,” which has a certain crass charm to it. They’re incredibly simple and short, which ties into the feel that the movie is a lengthy stand-up comedy routine, supplementing the brisk jests with a few quick tunes. The rapid-fire jokes are hit-or-miss, but several gags definitely garner chuckles – especially the ones heavier on innuendo. The plot is comparatively simple, posing only a few minor conflicts that are eased by predictable, contrived solutions. It’s evident Dangerfield wanted to star in an animated feature so much that it didn’t even matter if there was enough material to warrant such a venture.

The most interesting aspect of “Rover Dangerfield” is Rodney’s transformation into a cartoon character. The bulging eyes and protruding lip carry over quite amusingly, making the pudgy dog somewhat ugly at times and cute at others. He wears a red tie instead of a collar and possesses fingers more often than paws. It’s an odd anthropomorphic mutation that shifts in and out depending on when it’s necessary for him to grab something or merely gesture. His love interest doesn’t have this ability – it’s as if he’s in a “Looney Tunes” short and she’s in a Disney picture. To add to the bizarreness, Rover is much more human than any of the other animal roles, making him a better match for his owner, and ill-fitting when romancing Daisy. Despite the lessons of never giving up and believing in others, Rover perpetually seems like he would be much more comfortable lounging around a casino, shooting craps, and ogling strippers than chasing a collie through the woods.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10