The Rocker

Director(s): Peter Cattaneo

Writer(s): Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky

Cast: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Jeff Garlin, Josh Gad, Teddy Geiger and Emma Stone

Reviewed by: Ian Evans on

Release Date(s)

Aug 28, 2008 - Wide

“Missed it by that much” may have been one of the popular catchphrases from Get Smart, but it also sums up the drumming career of one Peter Best. For those of you whose musical tastes start in the American Idol years, Best was once the drummer for The Beatles, but was replaced just before they hit it big by Ringo Starr. Ringo is a music legend. Pete Best occasionally shows up at fan conventions.

The Rocker takes a comedic look at what would happen if that drummer was given a second chance. The Office’s Rainn Wilson plays Robert “Fish” Fishman, who drummed in a mid-80s heavy metal band called Vesuvius until he was replaced by the record company owner’s son prior to their big break. Vesuvius went on to become rock legends. Fish went on to work in a menial job. Vesuvius have all the trappings of rock stardom. Fish has an attic apartment in his sister’s house.

Unlike Pete Best, Fish gets a second chance. His nephew, Matt (Josh Gad) is in a band called A.D.D. with friends Curtis (Teddy Geiger) and Amelia (Emma Stone). When their drummer gets kicked out of school before their big prom gig, they need a man who knows the sticks and offer the job to Fish.

When a video of Fish practising the drums naked goes viral, the band gets offered a deal with a manager (Jason Sudeikis) and Fish and the band have their chance at fame. They tour for a bit before being offered a gig opening for Vesuvius. Whether or not Fish will want to open for his old band mates is one of the obstacles the young group must face. Will Fish achieve the super-stardom he so desired or will history repeat itself?

Rainn Wilson’s character on The Office is a bit of a jerk who occasionally shows a softer side and that also appears to be the character the producers of The Rocker wanted. Teddy Geiger makes his feature film debut as Curtis, the guitarist whose musical genius is probably too big for his band and he actually provides the musical chops for the soundtrack as he is a musician who has opened for the likes of Hilary Duff. Emma Stone, who came to audiences’ attention in Superbad, continues to catch our attention here. Jason Sudeikis is perfectly slimy as the band’s manager, while Christina Applegate, as Curtis’ mother, is not given much to do and appears to have been written in to give Fish a brief love interest. A cadre of comedy alumni make cameos as Fish’s old band Vesuvius.

The Rocker has all the hallmarks of one of those movies you watch on cable on the weekend when it’s raining outside. The storyline is formulaic, the plot twists are telegraphed a mile ahead and you can guess to the second when one character or another will get their comeuppance. But, like many of the films you watch on rainy days, The Rocker has enough charm to get by for its 102 minute running time.