Release Date: Aug. 22
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Writers: Wallace Wolodarsky and Maya Forbes (screenplay), Ryan Jaffe (story)
Cinematographer: Anthony B. Richmond
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, Josh Gad
Century-Fox, 102 mins.
If the premise of The Rocker sounds unfamiliar, you must have been living under a rock for the past couple of years.Robert “Fish” Fishman (Rainn
Wilson) is kicked out of his band and driven into a depression until a rag-tag
group of kids gets him playing again.If
you replace Fishman with Dewey Finn, you end up with an equally fitting
one-sentence summary of School of Rock.But The Rocker only takes this as an initial
premise, and instead of working within the one-gig-can-change-the-world theme of its
predecessor, it follows a band that becomes successful and is then required to tour with its
At least that story element seems original, but the tour antics
don’t lead to any revolutionary humor either.Fans of This is Spinal Tap and Almost Famous will recognize that the
second half of the film builds just as much off of them as the first half does School, lending the movie an unoriginal
feel all around.Wilson never uses
his role to feel like more than a Jack Black imitation and the teenagers in the
band are more types than characters, pulled directly from Saved by the Bell and every other hackneyed school dramedy.
The Rocker never let’s down its formula, plugging in the love
interest and the band conflict that are a foregone conclusion before opening
credits have finished.It’s a studio
comedy through and through, and while some of the jokes from Wally Wolodarsky (The Simpsons) and Maya Forbes (The Larry Sanders Show) are exceedingly clever,
the 100% by-the-numbers structure means that they can never offer any real
surprises.The film can be goofy for a
few moments, but then snaps right back to its prescribed story arc.These few moments of pleasure are fine, but
not enough to add up to a truly satisfying comedy.
In the end, The Rocker never adds up to the sum of its parts.Or perhaps it does, since all of those parts
are generally second-rate.It’s not an
actively bad movie, but it does offer up, in the most literal sense possible,
nothing you haven’t seen before.The Rocker ends up doing more to whet
appetites for School of Rock 2 than it does to actually entertain.