August 22, 2008

Here’s Wishing ‘Rocker’ Was Funnier

By Jason Foster

Stories about rock bands have often translated into good movies.

"This is Spinal Tap,""That Thing You Do,""Almost Famous" and "School of Rock" all come to mind.

Borrowing from all of those, and from plenty of other done-to- death comedy staples, is "The Rocker," the story of a former almost rock star, Fish Fishman (Rainn Wilson), who's looking to finally realize his dream by playing drums in his nephew's struggling band.

Over the course of the film, the band goes from unknown to YouTube sensation to legit rock stars, with Wilson showing them the ropes of how to act like rock stars (i.e. destroying hotel rooms, getting arrested, etc.).

There's really nothing unique or original in this film. It's predictable, mostly unfunny and feels much longer than its 1 hour- and-45-minute runtime. Wilson, best known as Dwight Schrute on NBC's "The Office," is really just doing a variation on his TV character, just one that's not as funny. The rest of the cast, which includes singer Teddy Geiger, Emma Stone ("Superbad") and Josh Gad ("21"), mostly play straight to Wilson's character, though Gad and Jeff Garland ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), who plays Fish's brother-in-law, provide the majority of what comedy the film offers.

The rise-of-the-band story has been done many times, and done better. There was potential here for good comedy, but the execution falls well short.

As I left the preview screening, I heard a kid say to his father, "It was a good movie, I just wish it was funnier."

I agree with the second part.

Cast: Rainn Wilson, Will Arnett, Emma Stone, Teddy Geiger, Josh Gad, Christina Applegate, Jane Lynch and Jeff Garlin

Director: Peter Cattaneo

MPAA rating: PG-13 for drug and sexual references, nudity and language

Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Grade: C-

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