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“Been a long time since I rock and rolled.”

The Rocker is one of those movies that I love the concept of and appreciate simply for the willingness of the main character to lay it all on the line. This is not the sort of film that is meant to be ground breaking in its ideals or motives. It is the old formula of taking a guy who must be made fun of, and making fun of him. But at the same time, allowing him to evolve and grow on the audience as the story progresses. Mix in a few one liners, generational garb, and some nude male butt cheeks and you have a pretty decent comedy. For what it is.

Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman (Rainn Wilson) is bitter. He has held a grudge for the last 20 years that has kept him stifled and unproductive. The root of this bitterness stems from seeing the 80’s band he was drummer and founding member of grow to pinnacles of stardom without him. So instead of moving on he has wallowed in self pity. While wallowing in his sister’s attic, homeless and jobless, he is asked to help out his nephew’s high school band. They are scheduled to play the prom but are short a drummer. Aging rockstar meets teen angst and comedy is the obvious bi-product. When a video of Fish practicing in the buff becomes a sensation on YouTube, a record label decides to take advantage of the momentum and put the band on the road. But many things have changed since the 80’s and Fish has much to learn even while he teaches these High Schooler’s the rules of touring.

Wilson (The Office, Juno, Sahara) has built up quite the following as Dwight on, The Office. He has a knack for sarcastic wit and humor and can be lovable in spite of his attitude. Those qualities help him make this film funnier than the script is on its own. You can’t help but compare it to School of Rock and though a little edgier and geared toward an older teen audience, the similarities are blatant. Both have dead beat rockers who still want a taste of the good life. Both have talented young musicians who are not sure they want the “old guy” bringing them down. There are similar lessons as well about following your dream and not allowing bitterness and letdowns to keep you from achieving your goals.

Though no Jack Black, Wilson brings his own style of comedy to The Rocker and carries the film quite well. His first starring role if you will is solid and funny. Which is what you need in a comedy. His willingness to lay it all out there with no shame is a must for this sort of role. But he does it in a genuine and believable way that makes the character of Fish likeable and you truly pull for the guy. Surrounded by a nice cast including Christina Applegate, Josh Gad, Jeff Garlin and Jane Lynch, Wilson is allowed to do his thing without making up for the short comings of others. I have always loved Applegate and it is interesting to see her play a mom and she has matured as a solid co-star. She could easily be the soccer mom down the street.

Also, I have to give it props as a music movie for having great tunes. The teenage rockers play with believability and have the look and style needed. We are not talking Almost Famous here but still you can’t overlook the detail of musicianship. The songs are catchy and modern which helps. The Rocker is rated PG-13 for drug and sexual references, nudity and language. But it isn’t as bad as it sounds. The nudity is comic and brief and in no way sexual in nature, rather used to further the story line. The drug use is typical band drinking and not over the top. The only thing for parents to be aware of are the sexual advances of the road manager to one of the teen’s mom. There are a few adult references that you might not want your pre teen hearing, much less repeating. Other than that it is tame in nature and a good story. Not sure if it will set any records but not a bad date movie to drop the teens of for. I give it 3 out of 5 ride cymbals. I laughed most of the time and Wilson creates a character that works.

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts a daily online talk show along with a weekend radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

Review copyright 2008 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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