Movie Review for The Rocker (2008)

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Review #673 of 365
Movie Review of The Rocker (2008) [PG-13] 102 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.50
Where Viewed: Cinemark Century 16, Lakewood, CO
When Seen: 24 July 2008 @ 7:30 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: nothing

Soundtrack: Download now from Teddy Geiger - The Rocker (Music from the Motion Picture) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Peter Cattaneo (Opal Dream)
Screenplay by: Maya Forbes (Seeing Other People) • Wally Wolodarsky (Seeing Other People) with story by Ryan Jaffe

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Rainn Wilson (Juno) • Christina Applegate ("Samantha Who?") • Teddy Geiger ("Love Monkey") • Josh Gad (21) • Emma Stone (Superbad) • Jeff Garlin (Strange Wilderness) • Jane Lynch (Space Chimps) • Jason Sudeikis (What Happen in Vegas) • Will Arnett (Horton Hears a Who! ) • Howard Hesseman (Martian Child) • Fred Armisen (Baby Mama) • Bradley Cooper (The Comebacks) • Lonny Ross (Good Luck Chuck) • Jon Glaser (Baby Mama)

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So, imagine you're living the dream. You're the drummer for a White Snake-like, heavy metal band you've named Vesuvius, and the band is just about to hit the big time and get signed. Only, without your knowledge, the rest of your bandmates have agreed to dump you for the nephew of one of the record label's executives leaving you high and dry at the altar. Well, this is the story of The Rocker, written by Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky and directed by Peter Cattaneo. Robert 'Fish' Fishman (Rainn Wilson) is now in his late 30s early 40s plugging away at his cubicle job until he has a breakdown and nearly strangles a co-worker who won't stop going on and on about how great Vesuvius is and gets fired. Back in his hometown of Cleveland and living, very temporarily, in the attic of his sister's home, he seeks to recoil and find a new niche. Things are not going very well on the job front, until he gets an unexpected musical break from a most unlikely source, his own nephew Matt (Josh Gad) himself the keyboardist for a high school teen angst band called A.D.D.. Having just lost their drummer to inappropriate activities at school, A.D.D. is about to lose its first gig at their senior prom and Matt's one and only chance to attend it and possibly, finally, maybe meet some women, the band is desperate for a drummer and interviews for a new one have gone surreal.

Outlandishly hysterical…an entirely enjoyable experience.
Matt, however, seizes the opportunity to invite his uncle whom he knows to be a fantastic drummer. At first, Fish is skeptical and then, eventually, after meeting the other bandmates: Curtis (Teddy Geiger) and Ameilia (Emma Stone), he's convinced that Matt's band is more than just a play toy for spoiled rich kids but, rather, a serious musical group. He agrees to rehearse and perform at the prom with A.D.D. Simultaneously, however, the memories of the mental 'high' associated with performing and drumming begin to flood his mind, and he goes a bit overboard at the prom driving the band off the stage to boos and hisses from the kids. His overzealous performance also drives a wedge between him and his new-found bandmates. Fish, however, refuses to give up on the band and eventually persuades them to reunite if he promises to find them a real gig. Life consequences force Fish into the basement of a Chinese restaurant and out of his sister's attic and the band to practice via webcam. Fish, who has little regard for personal hygiene and clothing, practices in the buff. His niece catches a glimpse of the naked drummer on her brother's computer, uploads it to YouTube™, and the rest, as they say is history. Suddenly, and A.D.D. is being signed to a label, cutting a record, and setting off on its first tour—with a lot of convincing of the A.D.D. parents who don't fancy seeing their children, just out of high school, traveling around the country in a bus with bad influence Fish. Curtis's single parent mom, Kim (Christina Applegate), agrees to go along and keep Fish in check setting the stage for the eventual inspirational climax of the film where A.D.D. will be invited to open for Vesuvius when they are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

More happens in the 102 minutes of The Rocker than in the three hours of many epic films. Outlandishly hysterical at times, Rainn Wilson was destined to play this role. His droll character on "The Office" barely casts a shadowy indication of what's to come as he literally inhabits the character of Fish. While the film is hilarious, it's also layered intelligently with the emotional turbulence surrounding bonafide teen angst especially as it manifests in Curtis--the real life singer / song writer / musician Teddy Geiger, Amelia, and Matt on one end of the spectrum and mid-life crisis as it rears its ugly head in Fish at the other end.

Rainn Wilson was destined to play this role.
These two similarly charged emotional states collide with full force in both the band and the story of the band. But, the movie doesn't stop there; it delves deeply as well into the sense of regret we can experience when we've given up on a dream to fulfill the cube-land destiny for so many worker cogs in the corporate machine. While safe, comfortable, consistent, benefits-included, retirement stabilizing income, it's also uninspiring, monotonous, mind-numbing labor without the love. Be prepared for some critics to bash this film, especially younger ones who've been living their dream to be film critics and who've yet to face these life cycles. They're going to say it's confused, doesn't know what it wants to be, and so on totally missing the metaphor the film and their comments, therefore, are for real life which really is confused and doesn't know what it wants to be.

There have been too many misguided comedies released this year that aren't funny and cannot hold a lighter at the end of a concert to The Rocker.
Don't listen to them. There have been too many misguided comedies released this year that aren't funny and cannot hold a lighter at the end of a concert to The Rocker. The inspired casting of Teddy Geiger, honestly, takes this film to a new level, though, because on top of the brilliant insight the film has into life, there's Teddy's phenomenal real music. Well written and directed, the story and cast do an outstanding job in this film making it an entirely enjoyable experience. Don't create your own regrets by waiting to see this on DVD or download later, see it now, on the big screen with a great sound system. You won't be sorry you did.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring The Rocker (2008)
Cast Members
Rainn WilsonChristina ApplegateTeddy Geiger
Josh GadEmma StoneJeff Garlin
Jane LynchJason SudeikisWill Arnett
Howard HessemanJon GlaserBradley Cooper
Peter Cattaneo
Maya ForbesWally Wolodarsky

Review-lite The Rocker (2008) [max of 150 words]
Destined to play The Rocker, Robert 'Fish' Fishman, Rainn Wilson takes on the role of the regret-filled, middle-aged former heavy metal drummer nearly coerced back into not just his livelihood but his passion of being a drummer when his pathetic nephew and keyboardist, Matt (Josh Gad) convinces him to play with his teen angst high school band. What ensues, however, is a hilarious and touching film, directed by Peter Cattaneo, about overcoming your life's regrets and really living. Some critics are going to bash this film preferring the idiocy of Pineapple Express, but don't listen. This film was an entirely enjoyable experience, both funny and sensitive. You'll have regrets if you don't see it.

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