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A failed drummer is given a second chance at fame. Robert "Fish" Fishman is the extremely dedicated and astoundingly passionate drummer for the eighties hair band Vesuvius, who is living the rock n' roll dream until he is unceremoniously kicked out of the band. Twenty years after his rock star fantasies are destroyed, just when Fish has finally given up all hope, he hears that his nephew's high school rock band A.D.D. is looking for a new drummer. They reluctantly make him the newest member of the band, giving him a chance to reclaim the Rock God throne he's always thought he deserved, and taking the young band along for the ride of their lives.
For more about The Rocker and the The Rocker Blu-ray release, see the The Rocker Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 10, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Josh Gad, Teddy Geiger, Emma Stone, Jeff Garlin
Director: Peter Cattaneo
» See full cast & crew
The Rocker Blu-ray Review
To quote a one hit wonder band, you'll "Feel it Again" with 'The Rocker.' By which I mean you've seen this all before in other, usually better, films.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 10, 2010
Is there any other profession (if you can call it that) that has dashed as many dreams as "rock star"? Here in Portland, Oregon, the home of a rather burgeoning indie music scene and the birthplace of quite a few successful bands through the decades (going back to such epochal groups as The Kingsmen of "Louie, Louie" fame), there are two types of dashed dreamers you meet. There are the kind that never really went anywhere with their musical ambitions, despite some of them being quite talented. There are others, perhaps a bit more pathetic, who actually grabbed the brass ring, at least for a little while, and then saw it whisk away in "one hit wonder" cruelty. While many of these souls have a certain sense of humor about their predicaments, they also share a very real wistfulness about what could have been, had the fates been a little kinder. That same wistfulness colors Rainn Wilson's character Robert "Fish" Fishman (an obvious hommage to Phish's drummer), drummer for Cleveland rock gods Vesuvius, whose big label dreams come with a catch: the label's owner's nephew is a drummer and the band must forsake Fish in order to achieve their Top 40 fantasies.
Jump cut ahead 20 years and Fish is a slightly pudgy, darkly depressed customer service worker surrounded by a world seemingly intent on shoving Vesuvius' decades long success story in his face. When one of his co-workers insists on playing Vesuvius' latest multi-platinum triumph at work, years of pent up rage erupt and in short order Fish finds himself without a job and a girlfriend (the tragically wasted Jane Krakowski), and ends up taking refuge in the attic of his sister, Lisa (the usually hilarious Jane Lynch of Glee and Mighty Wind fame, who, like Krakowski, is given next to nothing to do here). Lisa's son Matt (Josh Gad) has a band called A.D.D. which is set to play his school's prom. Need I even mention that A.D.D.'s drummer gets suspended, leaving the band without percussion on the eve of their big break? That sets up Fish to save the day, but instead he goes a bit berserk, ruining the gig for the kids. He vows to make it up for them, and they soon work out a sort of Skype situation where all four of them can rehearse in their various locales over the internet. Unfortunately, Fish, due to being easily overheated, ends up rehearsing au naturel, and footage of his jiggly physique soon goes viral on You Tube. Ironically, that turns out to be the silver lining for A.D.D., which is soon signed to its own deal and (you saw this coming) is offered a gig opening for Vesuvius.
That's the gist of The Rocker, and it has the germ of a decent idea at its core, despite being awfully reminiscent of a whole slew of similar films, mostly School of Rock. But like the misuse (or actual nonuse) of Krakowski and Lynch mentioned above, The Rocker is one huge missed opportunity. Wilson can be quite appealing, even when he's playing less than lovable characters, as he's proven repeatedly on The Office, but he's basically just annoying here. Part of the problem is the screenplay, by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (from an original story by Ryan Jaffe), which posits Fish as a sort of hapless Everyman who had the chance to hit it big and never recovered from having that chance snatched from his grip. The film plays that aspect for silly, almost Monty Python-esque laughs in the prelude and setup for the bulk of the film, but once we morph to "20 years later," things are cast in an almost depressingly "kitchen sink" realism, which makes the frankly feeble attempts at humor fall completely flat. It's like watching something by Arthur Miller or Eugene O'Neill as reimagined for Kids in the Hall or The State: there's an odd juxtaposition of content and tone that makes a lot of The Rocker strangely unsettling and ultimately unenjoyable.
There are a number of saving graces throughout the film, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. The song score by Chad Fischer is very effective, nimbly evincing both late 80's power ballads (think Loverboy or other screaming tenor bands of the day) and more indie flavored folk-pop-rock sensibilities which color today's airwaves. The members of A.D.D., especially Emma Stone as the petulant Amelia and Teddy Geiger as Curtis, the brooding songwriting genius of the group. Christina Applegate is sweet as Curtis' mother and putative love interest for Fish. But it's definitely a case of the parts being greater than the whole. Most of The Rocker lies there listless, despite being incredibly noisy and busy most of the time, and my hunch is the biggest "wannabe" this film is going to generate is the audience, which is going to wannabe watching something else.
The Rocker Blu-ray, Video Quality
What The Rocker lacks in actual content, it partially makes up for in a candy colored 1080p AVC encoded transfer that is wonderfully sharp and brilliantly saturated. This is a film that really exults in an amazing kaleidoscope of colors, and that over the top palette (almost reminiscent of Speed Racer at times, believe it or not) is expertly rendered throughout. While there are some overly dark segments in the onstage sequences, contrast is excellent and black levels are deep and true. The bulk of the film, however, is a kaleidoscope of bright primary colors, which erupt onscreen without ever going over the line into blooming. Detail is excellent throughout, with the stiffly hairsprayed coifs of Vesuvius showing every strand of errant hair, and the sometimes very intricate patterns of costumes never devolving into moiré patterns or other artifacting. This video presentation is "solid, man."
The Rocker Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Rocker also does extremely well in the sonic department, at least in the ubiquitous concert and music sequences, courtesy of a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Surrounds really come alive in these moments. You'll notice it right off the bat with the explosions which start off the Cleveland Vesuvius concert at the head of the film. Crowd noises surround the listener and make for a nice mosh pit ambience. When the film settles down to its relatively quieter sequences, a noticeable lack of surround activity is present. Dialogue is always crisp and clear, and usually directional enough to be realistic, but the "wow" factor is definitely in the music, probably as it should be. This is a fairly bass heavy music track, with some nice thundering drums and bass emanating from the subwoofer.
The Rocker Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Rocker offers a plethora of SD supplements, including:
The Rocker Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Rocker starts out promisingly, with a funny setup and clearly defined characters. Unfortunately, it quickly devolves into a largely wasted premise and a floundering Wilson. There's some good music and fun supporting turns, though, so it might be worth an evening's rental if you have nothing better to do.
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The Rocker Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Rocker Announced for Blu-ray - November 18, 2008
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Rainn Wilson comedy 'The Rocker' to Blu-ray on January 27th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Coming on a BD-50, video will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 DTS-HD ...
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