Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Rocker
Review by Sombrero Grande

The Rocker doesn't rock. It is, in fact, the cinematic equivalent of poorly conceived elevator music: completely bland, by-the-numbers and brain-numbing.

Imagine yourself stuck in an elevator for 102 minutes, listening to incompetently arranged muzak, the smell of a lingering fart hanging in the air, and someone has just punched you in the balls for no apparent reason. Congratulations. You've just experienced The Rocker.

It's hard to say after watching The Rocker whether or not The Office's Rainn Wilson can carry a movie. The material he has to work with is so awful that I would defy any actor to come out at the end of this movie not looking like a complete tool. His character, Robert "Fish" Fishman, isn't so much a "character" as he is just a physical being that moves the plot forward, motivation be damned.

In fact, not one of the "characters" in the film really has any sort of depth beyond some sort of stereotype. Seemingly in an effort to prove me right, one of the characters even spells out the cardboard-thin characteristics of the main kids in the band: "the magnetic but tormented lead singer, the awkward, neurotic super-nerd and the kind of ironic, post-modern punk girl."

In the 1980s, Fish was the drummer for the hard rocking band Vesuvius, and was kicked out right before the band made it big. Really big. Flash forward to modern times when his nephew is looking for a drummer for his own band for their prom gig. Fish enters the picture and the mostly-teen band rockets to stardom after a video leaked into YouTube shows Fish drumming naked. (Ah yes, Rainn Wilson's ass. THAT'S what I wanted to see today and have burned into my retinas like a nuclear blast. Thank you, The Rocker!)

It's like someone had a decent idea for a movie, signed a bunch of good comedic actors, and then left the business of writing, editing and directing the film to folks who don't give a shit.

Of course, what would a movie about rocking be without music? The original songs are actually the one thing this movie gets right in that they really do sound like they were written by teenagers in that they really suck.

You'd think a film that's so nakedly trying to ride to profitability on the popularity of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games (seriously, the kids in the film look like they could be right out of either of those games) would at least make an effort to make sure that when a character is shown playing a video game that there is some synchronization between what the character is doing and what's happening on the TV screen. Characters in The Rocker actually set down video game controllers and look away from the TV during several scenes while the game apparently continues to play by itself on the screen. It makes the "surprise" ending *spoiler alert* of having Vesuvius getting caught lip-synching on stage all the less affecting after watching the movie do the same thing itself beforehand.

The Rocker Born to Rock Special Edition DVD sports a bevy of bonus features, though if you can stomach sitting through a single one of them after watching the duration of this turd of a film, you're a better man than I. There's two commentary tracks, one with Wilson and director Peter Cattaneo and the other with the three teen actors, (I didn't listen to them but somehow I get the feeling that neither of these commentaries will feature anyone talking about how this film really "got away" from all of them). There's also deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes documentaries (including one where everyone just gushes about how excited they were to work with Wilson in the film), several gag-inducing gag reels, podcasts, an interview with Pete Best, music videos and more.

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