By Adam Frazier
Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) is the lead singer of Blood Pollution, an â€˜80s heavy metal tribute to Steel Dragon. After an argument, Chris is kicked out of his own band, which sets him on a path to fame and fortune, as he becomes the new lead singer for Steel Dragon.
Wait a second. That’s ”Rock Star”. I’m supposed to be reviewing The Rocker, directed by Peter Cattaneo. Sorry about that. Anyway, Jack Black stars as Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star who is kicked out of his own band. In need of cash, Finn poses as a substitute teacher at a prep school, and tries to turn his class into a rock band.
My apologies, that was ”School of Rock”. OK, for real this time, The Rocker.
With a predictable and lightweight story, the heartfelt performances of ”The Rocker”’s cast are wasted on an utterly bland and secondhand script. Directed by Peter Cattaneo (”The Full Monty”), ”The Rocker” stars Rainn Wilson as Robert “Fish” Fishman, a drummer whose dreams of rock â€˜n’ roll superstardom are destroyed after his â€˜80s heavy-metal hair band, Vesuvius, unceremoniously kicks him out of the group and signs a major record deal.
Wilson is best known as Dwight Schrute, assistant (to the) regional manager on NBC’s “The Office.” Though Wilson has been in several films, “The Rocker” is his first leading role. It seems as if writers Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarksy didn’t have one bit of characterization in mind for Robert Fishman, leaving Wilson to juggle his own quirks with an impression of Jack Black in ”School of Rock”.
It’s been twenty years since Fishman was kicked to the curb and now Vesuvius is the biggest rock act on the planet. As you might imagine, Fishman is at his lowest of lows. He’s a schlub in the first degree, working a dead-end job and wallowing in his broken dreams. This all changes when he’s given a second chance to taste the sweetness of superstardom when he joins his nephew Matt’s (Josh Gadman) garage band. Speaking of Gadman, he looks like the lovechild of Jonah Hill and Jack Black, but the kid is funny and you really root for him.
The band, A.D.D, is also comprised of punky chick bassist Amelia (Superbad’s Emma Stone) and the angst-ridden singer/songwriter Curtis, played by the equally angst-ridden singer Teddy Geiger. After playing a gig at the high school prom, A.D.D lands it big when some footage of a practice session involving Fishman drumming naked spreads across the Internet.
Now the band is thrust into the spotlight, signing a record deal with sleazy agent David Marshall (Jason Sudeikis), shooting music videos and going on a tour across the country. Cue Curtis’ hottie mom Kim (Christina Applegate) who is supportive of her son’s talents and in the process, develops a romantic relationship with Wilson’s loserly Fishman.
”The Rocker” is so sweet and sugary it will give you a toothache. It’s squeaky-clean, totally harmless and so completely non-edgy. Unfortunately, it just isn’t that funny. Wilson tries to be screamingly hilarious for every second of the film’s duration, and it just doesn’t work. This is rock music through the eyes of those who think the Jonas Brothers are rock â€˜n’ roll elite. There are numerous similarities to films like Rock Star, Almost Famous, This Is Spinal Tap and School of Rock, but the main difference is the authenticity of those films and the unconvincing, inadequate nature of The Rocker.
The film’s cast, which is rounded out by familiar faces from “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Human Giant,” is really the only selling point of The Rocker. It’s unfortunate that their performances were exhausted on a script with about as much real rock â€˜n’ roll as a Miley Cyrus track.