Retro Review: The Rocker

Faithful readers of this blog understand the concept of "Retro Review." For those who may have just joined the other two readers, allow me a brief explanation. I usually catch movies when they hit HBO or Showtime, long after they have come and gone on the big screen. If one of these films catches my attention, I will do a review here on the blog. I have recently viewed a film that struck some personal chords (pun intended). That would be The Rocker starring Rainn Wilson of NBC's The Office.

The Rocker
is about an eccentric and wacky drummer, Robert "Fish" Fishman (played by Wilson), who, at the beginning of the success of his stereotype 80s rock band, "Vesuvius (cool name by the way)," gets dumped by the band (of which he was the heart and soul) so that a record executive's nephew can replace him. The story really begins 20 years later, where we find Fish working a dull job in Cleveland and Vesuvius has gone on to legendary success.

A series of events gives Fish the chance to play in his nephew's garage band, "A.D.D." where he is twice as old as the other 3 band members. The kids reluctantly allow Fish to play with them, provided he gets them a gig, which he does. The gig is interrupted by the parents of the other band members (one of whom is played by the lovely and talented Christina Applegate), who ground the young ones. Fish's resilient nephew uses technology and connects all four band members online in order for them to practice. Naive and goofy Fish doesn't realize he is on camera, and rehearses totally naked and ends up on YouTube as "The Naked Drummer."

The large following of the naked drummer catches the attention of a major record company and suddenly A.D.D. with their goofy, sweaty drummer, who refuses to grow up, are living the rock star dream. The band on tour offers some cute moments, including some comical moments from counter-culture icon Howard Hesseman as the band's bus driver.

A.D.D.'s sudden and massive success creates an opportunity for them to open for rock legends Vesuvius. The grudge holding Fish refuses, causing him to leave A.D.D. and try, at last, to live the life of a grown up, complete with a suit, tie, briefcase, and a haircut. A.D.D. soon finds that they cannot go on without their wacky drummer and offer Fish a chance to rejoin the band. To do this, Fish must finally put the rejection of the past behind him and make peace with himself. The climax of the film is the meeting between Vesuvius and A.D.D. which allows Fish to once and for all move past his bitterness and wish Vesuvius a great show. Vesuvius soon takes the stage and it is revealed that they are lip-syncing and the legends are booed off the stage. As the crowd then chants "A.D.D.," the group takes the stage again and Fish is totally vindicated.

All in all, Wilson's performance carried the film. The cast (with the exceptions of Hesseman and Applegate) was dull and lacking, and the story itself was weak, even though the "Naked Drummer" concept offered the majority of the film's laughs. Personally, I hope to see Rainn Wilson in more films, preferably clothed.

Outside of that, The Rocker appealed to that deep inner desire for a second chance to relive youthful dreams and live out the saying that there is "No greater revenge than massive success." Fans of 80s big hair bands will enjoy The Rocker and appreciate many of the nuances expressed in the movie.

Ah, to be a kid again...


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