Rover Dangerfield is a 1991 American animated musical comedy fantasy adventure film produced by Hyperion Animation and released by Warner Bros., starring the voice talents of comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who also wrote and co-produced the film. It is about a street dog named Rover, who is owned by a Las Vegas showgirl. Rover gets dumped off Hoover Dam by the showgirl's boyfriend. However, rather than drowning, Rover ends up on a farm.
Rover (looks between a Beagle or a Basset Hound) lives a life of fun in Las Vegas, gambling and chasing girls with his best friend Eddie. One night, he sees his owner Connie's boyfriend, Rocky, in a transaction with a pair of gangsters, and accidentally disrupts it. Thinking that Rocky is an undercover cop setting them up, the gangsters flee, telling Rocky that he has blown his last chance. The next day, Connie goes on the road for two weeks, leaving Rocky to look after Rover. In revenge for ruining his deal, Rocky puts Rover in a bag, drives him to Hoover Dam, and throws him in the water. The bag is later pulled out of the water by two passing fishermen, who take Rover back to shore and place him in the back of their pickup truck. However, Rover wakes up and jumps out of the truck when the fishermen stop for gas, and begins to wander down the road on his way back to Vegas. Instead, he ends up in the countryside, and eventually runs into a farmer, Cal, and his son, Danny, who convinces his father to take the dog in. Cal agrees on one condition: at the first sign of trouble, he'll be sent to an animal shelter, and if nobody claims him, the animal shelter can put him to sleep.
Rover has difficulty adjusting to life on the farm, but with the help of Daisy, the beautiful dog next door, and the other dogs on the farm, he succeeds in earning his keep. Rover spends Christmas with the family, and begins to fall in love with Daisy, who returns his affections. However, one night, a pack of wolves attempt to kill the Christmas turkey on the farm. Rover attempts to save the animal, but ends up caught by Cal while holding the dead bird, looking as if he killed it. The next morning, Cal takes Rover into the woods in order to put him down, but is attacked by the wolves. Rover manages to fight the wolves off, and brings the other farm dogs to get an injured Cal home.
Rover's heroics make the papers, allowing Eddie and Connie to find out where he is. Connie travels to the farm and brings Rover back to Vegas, where Rover begins to miss his life on the farm. One night, Rocky comes into Connie's dressing room, where Rover attempts to get payback for what he did to him. After Rocky accidentally confesses to Connie what he did, she angrily slaps and breaks up him. Infuriated, he tries to retaliate against Connie. However, Rover and his dog friends chase him into the limo of the gangsters. At first, he's relieved that they seemingly came to his rescue but questions why were they even there in the first place. While Rover happily listens, the thugs proceed to reveal that they set him up and imply that they are going to murder him by throwing him into the Hoover Dam.
Some time later, Rover, missing Daisy, becomes depressed. Connie, realizing her old companion met someone, takes Rover back to the farm to stay. Rover is reunited with Daisy, who reveals to him that he is now a father, unveiling six puppies. The story ends with Rover teaching his kids how to play cards, and playfully chasing Daisy around the farmyard.
Conceived in the late 1980s, the film was planned at the time for a December 1988 release. It was originally planned as an R-rated animated film, in the vein of Ralph Bakshi's films, but Warner Bros. wanted the film's content to be toned down to a G-rating. Cartoonist Jeff Smith, best known as the creator of the self-published comic book series Bone, described working on key frames for the film's animation to editor Gary Groth in The Comics Journal in 1994.
The technique had already been used in Disney's The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, The Brave Little Toaster, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Oliver & Company, The Little Mermaid, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp and The Rescuers Down Under.
The film was released on VHS and LaserDisc on February 12, 1992. The most recent release was a re-release of the same DVD, but bundled with The Fearless Four, which was released on July 4, 2007. Warner Archives later released the film on DVD on December 7, 2010.
Alex Sandell of "Juicy Cerebellum" called it "one of the worst animated films ever, even if you are a fan of Dangerfield", and Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone TheMovieChicks.com both agreed that "this movie gets no respect and doesn't deserve any". One of the more positive reviews came from Douglas Pratt of "DVDLaser", saying that "the story is quite entertaining and provides so much of the film's appeal that the artwork just wags along with it".
Rodney Dangerfield performed his lines in front of cameras, creating a visual reference point for the animators to copy his physical expressions.
When Rover sees the roses that he gives Connie as her birthday present, you can see directly behind him on the wall a picture of Rodney Dangerfield under the words: Appearing Now. Rodney Dangerfield is the voice of Rover and he wrote the story for the movie.