Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Rocker (2008 film)

Originally Written and Posted at on 12/16/09 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions.

Directed by Peter Cattaneo and screenplay by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky from a story by Ryan Jafee, The Rocker tells the story of a drummer from a mid-80s glam-metal band who was left behind by his band as his life twenty years later has become one big failure. When his nephew asks him to join his band, the drummer suddenly gets a second chance to live his dream to become a rock star. Starring Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Teddy Geiger, Emma Stone, Josh Gad, Jane Lynch, Jeff Garlin, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Bradley Cooper, Howard Hesseman, Demitri Martin, and Jason Sudeikis. The Rocker is a funny, rocking film from Peter Cattaneo and company.

The film is a simple story of a drummer from now very popular metal band called Vesuvius whose life of misery has him moving in with his sister and befriending his nephew who is in a band that needed a drummer. By playing their high school prom gig, he becomes a member of the band with much reluctance from his new bandmates where a notorious Internet clip gets them attention. The band called A.D.D. suddenly becomes famous where one of the band member's mother joins the tour, the band become successful as the drummer called Fish (Rainn Wilson) deals with his new chance as well as the old demons in his past where he is offered the chance to open for his former band.

While the film has elements similar to the 2003 Richard Linklater film School of Rock about an adult wanting to rock with young kids. The film is about a man's unfortunate situations about his old band becoming big as he's left living a life that is mediocre and dull. When he's given a second chance, he is hoping to do all the things he wanted to do as a rock star. Yet, the character of Fish is more than just some guy finally living his dream but someone who really cares about his band mates by helping Curtis (Teddy Geiger) on the directions of the songs, help Amelia (Emma Stone) with her own image, and his nephew Matt (Josh Gadd) in his shyness. While the script does follow certain plot formulas, it's array of humor and love of rock does make it worthwhile.

Director Peter Cattaneo does a fine job with the direction though it's mostly average in terms of compositions and settings. Yet, he does make the film quite energetic and fun while a lot of the film is shot in Toronto with a few locations in Cleveland including the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame museum. For a lot of the performance sequences, Cattaneo succeeds in knowing what to shoot as he gives each actor a chance to shine while showcasing what happens with most big rock concerts once audiences get to see Vesuvius live in the film's climatic ending. Despite some formulaic ideas with the script and lack of fresh ideas, Cattaneo does create a solid film that is funny and entertaining to watch.

Cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond does pretty good work with the film's darkened look with moments of grain in the shoot in order to make the film look a little grimy but also polished. Editor Brad E. Wilhite does a nice job with the film's editing in giving it a nice, leisurely-paced feel while speeding up a bit for some of the film's wilder moments. Production designer Brandt Gordon and set decorator Clive Thomasson does a good job in the look of the clubs, the tour bus, and places that the characters go to. Costume designer Christopher Hargadon does excellent work in the looks of 80s rock star clothing in the film's early sequence along with modern clothes and dresses for Emma Stone. Sound editor Andrew DeCristofaro does very good work with the atmosphere of the rock shows and interaction with the audience.

The music by Chad Fischer is mostly a mixture of melodic-pop and rock as it serves as the songs he created for the fictional band A.D.D., a lot of which are sung by Teddy Geiger. The songs are pretty good while the songs Fischer wrote for the fictional band Vesuvius is reminiscent of 80s hard rock while Geiger and Fischer do a pretty good cover of Poison's Nothin' But A Good Time that works in conveying the spirit of the film.

The casting by Julie Ashton is wonderfully with cameo appearances from the likes of comedy actor Demitri Martin as a pretentious video director, Jane Krakowski as Fish's ex-girlfriend, Howard Hesseman as A.D.D.'s tour bus driver, Lonny Ross as Fish's replacement in Vesuvius, and as Vesuvius, Bradley Cooper, Fred Armisen, and Will Arnett. Another notable cameo that gives the film a bit of humor, though he's only in one scene, is original Beatles drummer Pete Best as a guy in the bus stop reading Rolling Stone. Other notable small roles include Brittany Allen as an A.D.D. fan who has a crush on Matt, Jonathan Malen as A.D.D.'s original drummer, Keir Gilchrist as a drum machine kid, Samantha Weinstein as Matt's sister, and Jon Glaser as Vesuvius' manager are memorable.

Jason Sudeikis is very good as A.D.D.'s scheming manager who tries to get rid of Fish in making the band bigger. Jeff Garlin is funny as Matt's dad who is excited to see Fish be a rock star again while Jane Lynch is really good as Fish's no-nonsense sister despite not given much to do. Josh Gad is great as Fish's nephew and keyboardist Matt who is funny with some of his sleeping antics along with his shyness where he's helped by Emma Stone in a funny kissing scene. Emma Stone is really good as Amelia, the band's nonchalant bassist who rarely smiles while is often grossed out by Fish's antics while displaying a sweet persona to her role. Teddy Geiger is also good as Curtis, the band's brooding lead singer and guitarist who is trying to deal with fame while coming to terms about what making music is really all about.

Christina Applegate is excellent in a wonderful supporting role as Curtis' mother Kim who joins the band on tour after Fish gets in trouble while revealing her own past as a rocker in which she connects with Fish. The film's most fantastic performance truly goes to Rainn Wilson as Fish, the drummer who gets a second chance in living his dream. Wilson's performance is definitely funny in the way he reacts to all things uncool or to his former band while doing lots of dumb things that are very funny. At the same time, Wilson also shows range as an actor in scenes where he helps everyone else as it's definitely a great role for the comedy actor.

While it's not a perfect film, The Rocker is indeed a funny, entertaining film from Peter Cattaneo and company with a hilarious performance from Rainn Wilson. Fans of rock films will no doubt enjoy this film for its music and sense of humor while it also has something that fans of low-brow comedies can enjoy. It may not have the brilliance of films like School of Rock, Almost Famous, or High Fidelity, The Rocker is still a film that is worth watching while letting rock fans rock out.

© thevoid99 2013

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