Out in theaters this week is the new comedy starring Rainn Wilson, The Rocker. Anyone who is a fan of The Office (myself included) will recognize Wilson as the hilariously weird Dwight Schrute. Aside from The Office, I haven't seen Wilson in too much else, so I can at least say it was a nice change of pace to see him in a role where he isn't constantly creeping me out.
But enough sunshine and lollipops, let's cut to the chase: this movie heaves. OK, maybe that's a little too strong of a statement, but when I go to see a comedy, is it too much to ask that I laugh every now and then? It's a cutesy story with a really happy ending, but I just didn't laugh when I know that it wanted me to.
The premise itself isn't bad; let me lay it on you.
Robert Fishman (Fish to his friends) is the drummer of a metal band, Vesuvius. They're young and all have dreams of stardom. After a gig one night, they are told that Matchbox Records wants to strike a deal that will make them legendary on the condition that one of the label's figurehead's son replaces Fish as the drummer (Fish is MIA from the meeting). They quickly go for the deal and abandon their friend Fish on the spot quite literally, as they drive off into the night. Fast-forward 20 years: Fish has joined the 9-5 crew with a lame day job, while Vesuvius has become a band equal in status to Led Zeppelin. Still trying to piece his life together, Fish moves in with his sister and reluctantly agrees to help his nephew's band, ADD (conveniently down 1 drummer) play at their first gig, the school prom. Soon the success of his nephew's new band takes off, aaaand you know the rest.
That's only 1/3rd of the movie right there, and I bet any of you reading this who hasn't seen it yet can probably guess exactly how it ends. You know what? Let's do this like a band-aid, I'm going to say everything that I didn't like about this movie and worse yet, all the plot holes that don't make any sense all in one big pull, THEN we can talk about the positives. Sound good? Terrific.
- This movie is like that younger kid who wanted to join your games of kickball when you were little and would do anything to fit in with the big boys: it borrows elements from other comedies because hey, it worked for them, right? So let's throw in what we know makes money: a ridiculous, loud, loser-ish main character who preaches about rock and roll (Jack Black, School of Rock), some scenes of that same loser running around in his underwear with his gross, overweight, pasty white body (any Will Ferrell movie) and finally whip up some lines that they banked would be funny but fell flat due to weird delivery.
- The movie beats into your head that Fish "is a boy who refused to grow up" but he swore off drumming for 20 years and got a 9-5 job?
- Fish hasn't drummed once for 20 years, and when he picks up the sticks for the first time at the prom gig, he not only hasn't lost any skill, he's friggin' God-like.
- The band ADD (Fish's new band) is apparently struggling, but they too are all God-like and the lead singer Curtis, who's always down because he thinks his band sucks has the prettiest rock and roll man voice in the history of ever. How the hell does your band have trouble starting off when your bass player is Emma Stone (shwing!) and your lead singer has a voice equal to every teen girls wet dream?
- When Fish was kicked out of Vesuvius, how was he not immediately picked up by another band if he was a) that dedicated of a rocker to begin with and b) that God-like on the drums?
- With a back-story of rejection and betrayal that huge, how did Fish not sell his story about essentially being stabbed in the back by the most legendary band alive to some book company? It'd seriously be all over the news if it were that huge.
- ADD's old drummer can't play the prom gig because he got suspended for drawing a penis on his Spanish teacher's face (might sound a little funny there, but the delivery in the movie was weak), which leads them to eventually pick up Fish as their drummer. After the prom gig however, we never hear from the bands original drummer ever again. Later in the movie when Curtis talks about 'a band being a family' and how they could never just let another member go well what the hell? They ditched out on their first drummer pretty damn quick, and they were apparently friends all throughout High School.
- The movie treats the bands manager David Marshall as a villain, giving him the "you got what you deserve for being a bad guy!" deal at the end of the movie, when he really wasn't that bad of a bad guy at all. He managed to launch the band to the absolute top in under a year, and all his 'attempts to do evil things to the band and have things go his way' once they're at the top (aka all ONE of his attempts) were really just funny more than they were villainous. It seemed out of place.
- The "love interest" between Curtis (Teddy Geiger) and Amelia (Emma Stone) has no back-story other than them longingly staring at each other for 3 second spans. The movie literally only touches on it at all for about 2 and a half minutes, when its being played off on the screen like its supposed to be a major plot point.
Wow, that's an unfortunately long list. Keep in mind, the movie's not completely awful; it just has a lot of serious problems that should've been fixed. There are some decent points that should be noted.
The story is really 'nice'. When I say nice I mean there's hardly any low points in the story at all, and everything ties up at the end with a super happy ending. I'll bet you any amount of money that this movie will eventually end up being played on ABC Family or maybe even the Disney Channel. That's a prediction, someone write it down.
I will give credit where credit is due however. Jason Sudeikis, thank you for making this movie not completely suck. You were the life preserver of funny in an otherwise ocean of dull. You may recognize Sudeikis from some appearances on Saturday Night Live, and Floyd on 30 Rock. He plays the roll of the evil(?) band manager in The Rocker. Take notes kids, this is a man who knows how to deliver a joke. His one-liners were really, really good, and had me cracking up (which made me saw "awwww" a little more inside, due to his treatment at the end of the movie). Sadly, his performance wasn't enough to make this one enjoyable overall.
The Bottom Line: meh. Unless you have posters of Rainn Wilson hanging in your room, you can afford to let this one slip by. Go see Pineapple Express or Tropic Thunder instead and if you actually do have posters of Rainn Wilson hanging in your room, please seek help.
Grade: Predictable, and a comedy that could've been funny, but just wasn't very. I thought Rainn Wilson had a real chance to shine here but he ended up just acting like a brand X Jack Black. The whole delivery of the movie is weak, like some kind of hard candy that's been under a running faucet to wash all the potential off. C-
Next up? College, and further down the line? Righteous Kill. Questions about the movie, my schedule, or my infectious smile should be sent to CHMovieReview@gmail.com.