The Rocker

2008, Movie, PG-13, 102 mins

Review

ROCKER, THE
starstarstarstar
Rainn Wilson makes an easy transition from TV to the big screen, going from malevolent suck-up on NBC's The Office to something a little different: A rock-and-roll never-was who gets a second shot at living the dream.

Once upon a time, Robert "Fish" Fishman (Wilson) was the sweat-soaked Lycra-clad drummer for Cleveland's great hair-metal hope Vesuvius, until the rest of the band (Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Bradley Cooper) sold him out for a contract with Matchbox Records (Fish's empty drummer's stool went to the label president's nephew). Twenty years later, Vesuvius are rock legends and 41-year-old Fish is working at Zammit's Metal Racking. With his rock dreams behind him, Fish still sports a ponytail and continues to cling to every last shred of bitterness over the raw deal, and when a coworker dares to play a track off of Vesuvius's latest platinum selling CD, Fish loses it. He also loses his job and his girlfriend (Jane Krakowski) and winds up moving into his sister Lisa (Jane Lynch) and brother-in-law Stan's (Jeff Garlin) attic where he has a galling, unobstructed view of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lisa and Stan's son Matt (Josh Gadman) is an overweight social misfit who plays keyboards in A.D.D., a garage band he formed with mopey singer/songwriter/lead guitarist Curtis (real-life pop star Teddy Geiger), coolly ironic bassist Amelia (Emma Stone), and drummer Jeremy (Jonathan Malen). Matt's only chance of going to the senior prom is if A.D.D. plays the senior prom, but his hopes are shattered after an ill-advised hash-brownie incident lands Jeremy in suspension. After auditioning several prospective drummers, Matt, Curtis and Amelia have no choice but to ask Fish, who's hasn't picked up his sticks since leaving Vesuvius. He reluctantly agrees, and proves to be the perfect drummer for Curtis' emo tunes -- until Fish ruins the show with an over-enthusiastic and wholly inappropriate drum solo in the middle of Peter Gabriel's "Your Eyes." Fish makes it up to them by getting them an out-of-town gig in Gary, Indiana, but sneaking out and stealing Lisa's car gets the rest of the band grounded. Kicked out of Lisa's house, Fish moves into the sweltering, rat-infested basement of a local Chinese restaurant, but Matt rigs their laptops with webcams so they can continue practicing remotely from their bedrooms. Unaware that he's on camera, Fish hops on his drum kit au natural, and when Matt's kid sister (Samantha Weinstein) uploads it to YouTube, "The Naked Drummer" -- and A.D.D. -- becomes an overnight Internet sensation.

Breezily directed by THE FULLY MONTY's Peter Cattaneo, this amiable comedy features a solid supporting cast -- Christina Applegate is cute as Curtis's single mother, and Jason Sudekis, who plays an oily record exec, makes a spot-on sleazebag -- and the original songs, written by Chad Fischer of "Superman" (aka the Scrubs theme-song) fame, are surprisingly good in a hooky, power-pop sort of way. And aside from an extended shot of Wilson's naked butt and a few rock-and-roll antics, the movie's is really good, clean fun that's fine for slightly older kids and a lot of fun for adults. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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