One of the most popular fantasies is to become a rock star. Most teens go through the stage where they form a garage band and feel that they are on their way to the top. All you really need is a guy that can master three chords on the guitar, a drummer who has mastered basic beats and a bass player that can run a couple of licks and you are all set. In the spirit of full disclosure I admit that in my mid to late teens I played bass in rock band. However, with the possible exception of our lead guitar player none of us had any delusions of being professional rock stars. The quest for rock stardom is full of potential as a story line for a movie. There is the ever popular quest to get on the fast track to fame and fortune, conflict within the band and perhaps a little romance along the way. Because of this there have been a lot of films that look at this teen rite of passage. One of the quirkiest has to be ‘The Rocker’.
One thing that needs to be said up front; this is not a great movie, it squeaks by as a good one. What it does succeed in doing is providing a reasonably fun flick. There is a definite need for a fluff flick that offers little more than a distraction from our work week. As long as you go into this with only the expectation of some light entertainment you will have a few laughs. Not every flick has to be great and few can even reasonably aspire to such heights. Most flicks are like pizza. It is rare, except here in Brooklyn to find a truly great slice. What you typically wind up with is something that closely resembles pizza and that is enough. This film is a comedy and relishes in its silliness. Its strongest point is that it never takes itself seriously. The cast and crew are all smart enough to know that this will never be on an AFI list of great comedies so they kicked back to have a wild ride. Since the film had lackluster performance in the box office we should be safe from the possibility of a sequel. As far as a fun movie night at home with friends this is a choice that you can enjoy. To that end it is available in both DVD and Blu-ray formats through Fox Home Entertainment.
The script was written by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky based on a story by Ryan Jaffe. Forbes had been a staff writer for the cable comedy hit ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ and previously scripted two romantic comedies ‘Seeing Other People’ and ‘True Love’. Wolodarsky also worked on ‘Seeing Other People’ and was a writer on ‘The Simpsons’. The fundamental story here is a aging drummer who lost out on his one big shot at fame. He becomes involved with a high school rock band in a desperate attempt to relive the glory days he was denied. It is very loosely based on the life of drummer Pete Best who left the Beatles just before they became and international sensation. Many may be quick to point out conceptual similarities with the Jack Black flick ‘School of Rock’ but it should be considered that the theme here is an old one and deserves more than one vantage point. Most of us have wondered later in life about that proverbial path not taken. A decision that might have seemed like the best choice at the time turned out to be one that would fill us with regret. This also provides a sub text for the main character. He would naturally be filled with self doubt thinking that he held his former band back. Once he left they were able to ascend to the height of fame. In this scenario demeaning himself to play with a bunch of high school students offers him a way to prove to himself that he has what it takes to be a success. The role of the main character is to play the fool and providing this sight to his personality and motivation allows the audience to extend some sympathy to him giving the humor a more humanized touch. The script is basically a recanting of a hackney formula but when you take the time to dig a little deeper it is able to set a solid foundation for a reasonable popcorn flick
It may seem strange to hear the words Academy Award nominee in association with a comedy film like this but it is true. The director Peter Cattaneo has held that position twice; once in 1991 for his short film ‘Dear Rosie’ and again in 1998 for his direction of ‘The Full Monty’. Many fans will laude a man for great direction when the script and cast are in serious contention for numerous awards. What is truly difficult is when a director of proven talent takes on a project that is at best run of the mill. It is easy to come down on a film like this but some mercy should be given. They set out to make a silly flick that will give the audience some laughs and they did it. Cattaneo held the reigns here doing his level best with what he had to work with. He managed to bring out the sub plots well and kept the movie rolling along at a good pace.
In his younger days Robert "Fish" Fishman (Rainn Wilson) was the drummer for a little heavy metal band named Vesuvius. He was replaced and just at that point they became a major group with amazing record sales and popularity. Fish always resented this and never was able to let it go swearing he would never play drums again. He becomes the perennial loser living in his sister’s attic, getting fired from a long line of dead end jobs and failing to maintain any form of relationship. His nephew Matt (Josh Gad) has a garage band and a big gig coming up, the prom. His band, A.D.D. is comprised of the sullen Curtis (Teddy Geiger) and the take charge Amelia (Emma Stone). Until recently they had a drummer but he was just thrown out of school for a prank. They need uncle Fish to drum for them on the big night. The night is a disaster and Fish is thrown out of his sister’s home. He gets to live in the basement of a Chinese restaurant and because of the heat drums naked. A video of this gets out on You Tube and A.D.D. becomes an overnight sensation. At last Fish has a way to musically redeem himself but the road is not an easy one.
Most people associate Rainn Wilson with his current hit television series ‘The Office’ but I have been a fan of his since his role on HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’. He has portraying the likeable looser down to a science and even in a setting like this will make you laugh. He is able to connect with the audience making us want to see things work out for him and that is enough to make this film work as a light hearted comedy. The Blu-ray version of the film is great in its production values. The high definition video is crystal clear and the DTS HD audio really rocks and fills the room. There are also a ton of extras provided. This is a flick of a Saturday night when you just don’t feel like going out but could use a few chuckles.