The Rocker Cover As much as it pains me to say this, sometimes life can really jump up and punch you right in the face. OK, I have to confess, occasionally this could be a very harsh and violent punch. Whilst, at other times, its just like something out of this film Directed by Peter Cattaneo; and Starring: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Teddy Geiger, Josh Gad, and Emma Stone. It was made in 2008, and lasts for 102 minutes.

The Rocker

Poor Robert Fisherman (Rainn Wilson). For twenty long years now, this drummer has been cursing the day that he was kicked out of the heavy-metal band, 'Vesuvius'. Well, whilst Vesuvius rose up to the stars, winning fame, fortune, and adulation from all in sundry. 'Fish', on the other hand, sunk down into the gutter, and ended up living in his sister’s house with her family.

Though, as luck would have it, Fish's nephew, Matt (Josh Gad), has a rock band as well. Granted, not a massively popular group like Vesuvius. Nonetheless, a small school combo called 'A.D.D.', comprising of him on the piano, plus his classmates, Curtis and Amelia (Teddy Geiger and Emma Stone), on vocals and lead guitar respectively. Moreover, they also desperately need a new drummer because theirs was kicked out of school for crude behavior.

So who do you think they ask? No. Not Ringo Starr. Fish. Matt's very enthusiastic uncle who accepts this offer with not so open arms, molding this offer, and then rocking this offer as if it was a bat out of hell.

OK, when I say 'rock', what I actually mean by this, is that this lop-sided quartet eventually makes their way from prom, to youtube, to recording studio, to paying gigs, with each step up the ladder a very strange one indeed.

Please note though, Josh’s mum, Kim (Christina Applegate), plus some of the other parents, are none too pleased Fish is the guiding force for A.D.D. And that is why she decides to accompany them of tour, cementing a bond, a unity, and a alternate family unit that has a spring in it's step, and the devil in it's heart.

Yes. I did say 'devil'. One in Vesuvius disguise. Plus something that suddenly rears its ugly head once again, prompting to what next transpire to be one hell of a shindig. As bands clash - friendships gash - music plays - and rock and roll will never have an 'end of days'.

Now have you ever heard of the drummer, Pete Best, before? If not, he was the drummer in the Beatles prior to Ringo Starr joining them. Pete was kicked out of the band on the eve of the 'Fab Four' gaining a record contract with Parlophone. And since then he has managed to pick himself up, dust himself down, and just get just on with his life, trying to distance himself with 'what could have been'.

Though, if you come to think about it, this must have been a very hard thing for Pete to do. Could you imagine what life must have been life for him, seeing his ex-band mates becomes legends before his very eyes. Tough shtick, I'm sure that you'll agree. Plus a topic worth exploring in filmic-form. Just not this particular one.

Emma Stone in The Rocker

Christina Applegate Pussycatdolls
However, before I give you my full 411 on 'The Rocker', please allow me give you some film-facts first. (1) The majority of this film was recorded in Toronto, Canada. (2) Emma Stone is from Swedish descent. (3) (4) Rainn Wilson can play both the clarinet and bassoon. (5) Christina Applegate love's playing the game 'Guitar Hero' (6) Did you know that there were three real-life references inserted in this film? The first one referrers to Ashley Simpson lip syncing to a song on 'Saturday Night Live' -- an American comedy show that Jason Surdeiks was on at the time. The second one was when Christina's character mentions that she was once in a all girl punk band -- In real life this is true, Christina was a founding member of 'The Pussycat Dolls'. And the third one was where Jason's character says to Jeff's character 'Hey, it's norm from Cheers' -- Jason Surdeiks is the real life nephew of Norm, George Wendt. (7) Teddy Geiger began playing guitar when he was eight years old, and he was in a relationship with Emma Stone two years prior to making this picture. (8) Josh Gad is the Godfather to Theo, who is the son of Seth Gabel and Bryce Dallas Howard. And (9) The writers of this film have acknowledged that this piece was very-very loosely based on the life of Pete Best. Pete's is seen briefly at the beginning of the story reading the 'Rolling Stones' magazine with Vesuvius on the cover.

Wilson in The Rocker

OK, so now I have both Pete and this trivia out of my system, what I want to know now is get Jack Black out of my system too. Well, ‘The Rocker’ is one of those films’ that is only impeded by the similar film’s that have come out before it. 'School of Rock' or 'Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny' for instance. Heck, for that matter, any film with Jack Black in it, that's what makes this film somewhat hard to watch.

Basically, the Rainn Wilson character of Fish, is very-very-very-very much like the archetypal Jack Black in his comedies. Rainn clowns around. Rainn pulls funny faces. Rain overacts. Whatever Jack has done in the past, Rainn does it in this film as well.

OK, give him his due, Rain does try his best to make this character somewhat his own at times. But I am afraid to say that once the 'Jack Black seed' has been planted into your mind, it will just not shift one little bit.

The Cast Of The Rocker

So what about the rest of the characters you may ask? Do they manage to save 'The Rocker' from the shadow of Jack? No. Not really. But that is not to say Christina, Teddy, Josh, and Emma, were not good in this film -- as they really managed to inhabit their roles, and not in a showy way either. It’s just that the specter of Jack loomed over them every step of the way, and taunted them with ‘I can do better -- I can do better -- I can do better’. And maybe he could have? Because the overall pretext of this film does seem like something that was tailor made for Jack. Plus on top of that, the arc of the story is very evolving and musical to boot.

Now from a story perspective, I did like the way that the overall adventure seemed incremental in nature. As piece, by piece, by piece, the larger tapestry of this film started to become woven together in stages, and not always in a contrived fashion. I found a good example of this to be within the bands dynamics. As it was Rainn who was the childish one in the group, whilst the children seemed to behave like the adult’s. In addition to this, for a comedy / music film, the balance between these two elements worked in unison very well, jelling them quite evenly as a whole, with neither of them seemingly to upstage the other component. If anything, it enhanced it. Agreed Rainn?

All in all 'The Rocker' is a very nice film to follow, with some pleasant little intimate scenes that made the larger story that much more amicable to watch. If only Jack was not around? Jack – JaCk – JACK!!!!!! HaHahHAHAhah!


THE ROCKER THE ROCKER Reviewed by David Andrews on December 19, 2012 Rating: 5
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