The Rocker – Review

A look at what Pete Best’s life might’ve been like if it had included a feel-good underdog story in it

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Director: Peter Cattaneo
Notable Cast:
Rainn Wilson, Emma Stone, Christina Applegate, Will Arnett

On the surface, The Rocker has all the potential to be a cute if innocuous looking August film. But for a film that positions itself about a man (Rainn Wilson) who never let go of the past or his dreams of being a rock star, it gets one shockingly easy thing wrong: the music.

It starts off interesting enough. Robert Fishman (Wilson) is the drummer of a band about to hit it big. Kicked to the curb by his band mates as part of the record deal that made them famous, both their paths turned out wildly different. Fishman’s path went to the menial, bitter at the band that kicked him out and losing his temper at anyone who likes them. Vesuvius, the band he was tossed out of, became famous to Aerosmith-type proportions. Twenty years later, Fishman is living in his sister’s attic after being fired from a series of jobs when opportunity strikes again. His nephew Matt (Josh Gad) is in a band scheduled to play the prom. When their drummer is kicked out of school as part of a prank, he asks Robert to join them for one night. When one night becomes a permanent position, and an awkward rehearsal over the web makes them instant stars, Fishman gets to live out his dream twenty years later.

And while the film has its moments, the one thing that keeps the film from entering a category of “acceptable entertainment” is that the film takes the bulk of its 80s hair metal soundtrack and does the one thing that a film like this shouldn’t: insert cover songs of vintage hits. It takes away any authenticity the film tries to have about music and the industry itself. When “Nothin’ but a Good Time” by Poison, amongst others, is used by some no-name band as opposed to the original it kills any credibility a film about music can have. It’s second rate and becomes annoying because the original music would’ve been a better fit.

It doesn’t help that the film seems to be something Jack Black turned down and Wilson picked up to make some cash between The Office episodes. The film has generic gags and is designed for an actor like Black that Wilson does effectively, but not to the point where it’s laugh out loud hilarious. It’s good for a chuckle, but nothing more.

In a year of tremendous comedy, The Rocker is a second rate comedy in a year with an armful of first rate ones.