Monday, 10 August 2015

The Rocker (2008)





















I believe this was Rainn Wilson's first leading role in his own movie, the first time a movie revolved around his character. Unfortunately the movie isn't exactly an original concept, some might say it kinda rips-off the 2003 movie 'School of Rock' to a degree, maybe even touching on the Brit flick 'Still Crazy' here and there.

The plot centres around the fictional drummer Robert Fishman (Wilson) of the heavy metal rock band Vesuvius. Back in the 80's this band are on the verge of hitting the big time with their heavy metal/glam rock songs and outrageous onstage antics. Alas the record company that wants to sign them sets an ultimatum, they must drop their drummer Fishman...and replace him with the record companies nephew. Eventually the band agree and Fishman is out. We follow Fishman years down the line, his life has crumbled, he loses his job, his girlfriend and he is forced to move in with his sister. But it is here, with his sisters family, he finds a lifeline in his nephews high school rock band.

So yes, it is very much like 'School of Rock', the main difference of course being this is based around teenagers instead of young kids. Does that make the film any better? well sort of I guess, its not exactly a riveting tale of originality as said. Bottom line the film survives purely because of Wilson and his goofiness along with his non-Hollywood looks. This is Rainn's appeal, the guy is not good looking, he is not fit or ripped in any way and he's not a ladies man type. This guy is just a regular looking bloke, the kind of guy you would actually find serving you in a retail park electronics store. Its this that makes Wilson likable as the everyman up against it, he uses his, dare I say, pug-ugly looks and out of shape physique to great effect. Indeed in this film we see his flabby toneless torso quite often, and its admittedly amusing, it works (I especially liked the brief moment at the start where he hurls his sweat soaked vest into the crowd, and it slaps some poor fan across the face).

The rest of the cast are made up of stereotypical teens that fit the stereotypical mould. You have the good looking male lead singer that has all the girls swooning over him, yet he's somehow not fulfilled. The fat, curly haired, awkward kid who doesn't really fit in, but towards the end totally gets into it and snatches a hot girl way out of his league. And finally you have Emma Stone who obviously plays the cute female band member who secretly has the hots for the good looking male lead singer (guess what happens in the end). The supposedly funny bit is the fact they hire Fishman as their drummer, a man in his forties who thinks he's still a young rocker and likes to live the dream, real life responsibilities aside. Oh and their manager is a creepy untrustworthy cad...so again, not much originality.

Much of the bands tomfoolery is played out through Wilson's Fishman character and it is slightly amusing as said, but it grows old very quickly. The whole aspect of his life going through a downhill spiral of rejection after losing Vesuvius is completely predictable and dull frankly. The sequences where he goes all wild and crazy in true rock n roll fashion are also slightly amusing but again so obvious, you just know at some point he'll trash a hotel room. The romance angle between Stone and the good looking lead singer is hammy as hell as is Josh Gad's fat kid character...hell its all cliched to the max.

This is the films problem, there is nothing here you haven't really seen before, every plot angle, every character development, the predictable face to face reunion with Vesuvius and their ultimate downfall in the concert finale etc...Its not exactly terrible stuff, its just completely average and actually kinda boring. THE only reason to watch this movie is for the sporadic moments of lunacy from Wilson, as in his other movie 'Super', he does show he can actually act and deliver emotion well. Other than that its a total by the numbers comedy. Heck even the films promotion efforts were similar to that Jack Black comedy I mentioned earlier. The main difference being that movie actually felt more like a homage to rock despite being a kids flick, you just don't get that with this movie.

5/10