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Rocker, The (Born to Rock Edition) Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 February 2009
ImageThere is no better way to describe this movie than how the press release for the film explains it.  “’School of Rock’ meets ‘Spinal Tap.’”  The only problem is that I doubt this film will become a classic comedy spoof like “Spinal Tap.”  The film has received mediocre reviews from critics and audiences alike.  When it was released in theaters back in August of 2008, the film did astonishingly poor in box office sales.  It’s final gross was only $6.5 million.  Honestly, I think the film deserved more than that considering what truly horrible films are bringing in at the box-office.

Rainn Wilson, one of the comic geniuses of America’s version of “The Office,” stars as Robert Fishman, aka “The Fish.”  20 years ago he was the founder and soul drummer behind the emerging heavy metal band, “Vesuvius.”  However, just as the band is about the sign a big record deal that will launch them into stardom, the one caveat is that Fish must be replaced with the owner of the record label’s nephew.  Initially the band members resist, but ultimately they cannot turn down their one shot at the big time.

Fast-forward 20 years later.  The Fish is now working at a desk job and hates his life.  When Vesuvius’ latest album is released it haunts him.  He eventually is fired for fighting and then he girlfriend (Jane Krakowski) breaks up with him.  He moves back in with his sister (Jane Lynch), in her attic.

As fate would have it, his “loser” nephew, Matt (Josh Gad), is in a high school band.  When their drummer gets suspended and grounded, they are in desperate need of a new drummer.  After several auditions, Matt resorts to asking his uncle Fish to drum with the band for their prom gig.  IN addition to Matt, the band consists of Amelia (Emma Stone) the punk rocker chick and Curtis (Teddy Geiger) the band’s leader and songwriter.

After going overboard at the prom, the band rejects Fish.  The only way that they will let him stay in the band is if he can deliver a real gig for the band.  Events occur that get him kicked out of the house and the band must resort to rehearsing via webcam broadcasting.  Some nude playing by Fish leads to the most viewed YouTube video and a record and touring contract. Fish finally gets his turn in the spotlight after 20 years.  His childlike behavior gets everyone in trouble, until Fish realizes that he is not as young as he used to be and cannot party as hard.  The final nail in the coffin for him is when Curtis agrees, without talking it over with the band, to open for Vesuvius’ induction into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.

As predicted, Curtis comes to reason, and gets Fish to come back to the band.  The long awaited reunion between Fish and Vesuvius is a bit of a let down and moves by very quickly.  The film has a very typical Hollywood ending and that’s that.

Rainn Wilson is most definitely the star of the film, but after a while his humor gets a bit tiresome.  Emma Stone delivers a solid performance, but unfortunately her character was not given a strong background.  The same goes for Christina Applegate’s performance.  The rest of the performances were decent or poor.  Peter Cattaneo, whose most notable credit is his direction of “The Full Monty” does a so-so directing job here.

The video is presented in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode.  Fox has given “The Rocker” nice treatment in the video transfer.  Most notable, the blacks are inky and deep.  In combination with a near perfect contrast reproduction, the image does well in both bright and dark sequences.  Details are nicely represented.  The patterns and textures on costumes and general scenery is sharp.  Fleshtones are stable and accurate.  Color is drained a bit here and there, but for the most part colors are crisp.  There is a fair amount of noise in low-light sequences, but it is easy to overlook this.  While there may only brief segments that could be called reference material, the video is still one of the better transfers lately.

The audio quality is a bit of a disappointment considering it to be a music film.  Unlike “Drumline,” “The Rocker” does not contain quite as full of an enveloping or immersive experience.  The bass kicks in during the opening and final performances, but is lacking in-between.  The non-musical scenes contain a fairly straight-forward frontal mix with little going on in the surround channels.  The dialogue is clear and crisp.  There is not much in the way of dynamics.  As with most music and films today, the soundtrack is fairly compressed.  The audio track needs to contain more movement and subwoofer presence to get a higher rating.  The audio is presented in DTS-HD master Audio 5.1.

“The Rocker” is jammed with extras, but unfortunately lacks anything truly interesting.  There are two audio commentaries on the disc.  The first commentary is with director Peter Cattaneo and actor Rainn Wilson.  Wilson gets a bit out of hand sometimes but overall this is an informative track.  The second commentary is with actors Josh Gad, Teddy Geiger, Emma Stone and Jason Sudeikis.  This track is devoid of any type of insight and should be skipped.

In terms of featurettes, the disc contains “MTV Panel” is a temper-tantrum thrown by Josh Gad.  “Rock Tales” shows cast members talking about their rock experiences.  “Behind the Band” is a brief mockumentary.  “Rainn Wilson Office Rocker” has Rainn recounting his “Office” days.  “Rock Beat with Fish Fishman” is a spoof on backstage documentaries.  “The Music” takes a look at casting pop singer Teddy Geiger.  “Pete Best Interview” focuses on Best’s cameo.  There are about 15 minutes of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending.  There are several gag reels, Internet Podcasts, Vesuvius PSAs, trailers, and the “I’m Not Bitter” music video.  “Fox Movie Channel Presents…In Character with ‘The Rocker’” is a brief vignette discussing Wilson’s zany character.  Lastly, there is a separate Digital Copy of the film.

“The Rocker” is not as bad as people make it out to be.  It will not be a comic classic, but it is entertaining.  The film is definitely worth a look.  The video and audio are surprisingly good for a low-budget comedy.

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