The Rocker (20th Century Fox, PG-13)

film_rocker_sm.jpgThe Rocker is the latest in a long line of he’s-way-too-old-to-act-like-that movies.








Everyone wants to live their dream, and years ago Fish (Rainn Wilson) was well on his way. After slogging away in tiny Cleveland clubs drumming with Vesuvius, his band finally landed a record contract. But when Fish’s bandmates agree to dump him as part of the contract, his dream dies suddenly and painfully.

Twenty years pass and Vesuvius is now a legendary rock band. But Fish is stumbling into middle age by losing his call-center job, his girlfriend and the apartment he shared with her…in one day, and fueled by anti-Vesuvius rage. After moving in with his sister’s family, he’s asked by his awkward teenage nephew Matt (Josh Gad) to step in for his band’s missing drummer; Fish sees an opportunity to finally live the life he really wanted.

The Rocker is the latest in a long line of he’s-way-too-old-to-act-like-that movies that summers just wouldn’t be the same without (Hot Rod, Step Brothers, anything by Judd Apatow). It won’t have you laughing until you cry, but it’s just funny and frothy enough to keep you entertained. There are some implausibilities, however.

For instance, Vesuvius has managed to become a major rock presence, big enough to merit induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What’s the problem with this, you ask? They’re a hair-metal band. Vesuvius is a perfect parody of Winger, Ratt, Poison and all those other metal bands from the ’80s that faded from sight once grunge took over, seemingly never to return. The idea that one of them managed to survive and thrive feels too ridiculous, even for a film like The Rocker.

The movie wisely milks most of its laughs from Fish. The idea that someone so sloppy and uncool couldn’t possibly glide easily into newfound stardom is like bread and butter for The Rocker. Fish unwisely thinks he can pick up where he never got a chance to leave off: trashing hotel rooms, having public fights with bandmates, and partying until his "nuts catch fire." His bad behavior means more funny for us.

As we’ve seen with The Office, Wilson does a fine job playing the fool who has no idea he’s a fool. With The Rocker we can see that Wilson’s capable of taking the fool out front and making it work. | Adrienne Jones

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