On its surface The Rocker appears to be a cheap, knock-off of The School of Rock. However looking beyond the surface, this movie offers something that the Linklater cinematic-popsicle never did… a heart!
Our bumbling idiot in this comedy is Fish played by Rainn Wilson of TV’s The Office. And while he does not deliver the sort of star-making performance that Jack Black did in High Fidelity, what he does do is even more important: make you forget he is Dwight for 90 minutes. Some television actors who play note-worthy comedic characters have occasional crossover difficulties. Anyone remember Down Periscope or Madhouse with Kelsey Grammar and John Larroquette, respectively. However, other television comedians have reveled in the cross-over. Tom Hanks is a good example that this transition is possible.
Wilson’s performance has no baggage to it and that is refreshing in an odd way. While watching the most recent Will Ferrel flick Semi-Pro, I felt the LONG history in the genre, sub-genre, and occasionally sub-sub-genre with Ferrel and the audience. The Rocker gives us someone knew to laugh at without the baggage of wanting to slit our wrists because we paid to see Blades of Glory (well some of you foolish people did).
Beyond the emergence of Rainn Wilson as a comedy star, the film deals with a 1980’s heavy metal drummer. When a prestigious label becomes interested in the band, he is forced out in lieu of an executive’s son. Twenty years pass and he is still living in 1988. Trapped in the moment when he could have become a millionaire. He ends up living with his sister in her attic (giving us the most repetitive joke since Scary Movie 4). He is then asked to fill-in for his nephew’s drummer as they play the prom, and all sorts of wacky adventures ensue.
Now all of this could be gathered from the trailer. However, that is really the first act of the movie. And the real heart of the flick takes off from there. It is an enjoyable (yet far from perfect) flick.
The band hits the road together. And, there, the under-maturity of Fish intermingles with the overly-mature attitudes of his band-mates. All of whom spend time keeping an eye on him.
I think The Rocker is being deeply mis-marketed as a film with sloppy sight gags. I think there is a lot more to the characters than just that…