"The Rocker" feels like the strange love child of "School of Rock" and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" with its story of a has been drummer playing with a teen band with one last shot at the big time. You can also throw in a bit of "That Thing You Do!" with an unscrupulous band manager who only thinks of the money not the music. So what that really means is that with "The Rocker" being a mix of these other familiar movies it isn't that original but yet it is strangely entertaining thanks to the mix of Rainn Wilson acting the fool as aging drummer Fish and some surprisingly good music.
The year is 1986 and Fish (Rainn Wilson) the drummer for the band Vesuvius is over the moon when they get signed to a major record label only to have it all ripped from him when he is dumped from the band. 20 years later and Fish is working in a call office whilst Vesuvius has gone on to become major rock gods much to his annoyance. But through a series of kicks in the teeth Fish finds himself living with his sister and drumming for his nephews band "A.D.D.". After a rehearsal via webcam ends up being broadcast on Youtube they become a hit with a major record studio, giving Fish another chance of being the Rock God he always felt he was.
So as already mentioned the storyline does feel like the offspring of various rock movies merged together, you almost get a sense that someone saw that these comedy rock movies were popular and employed some writers to combine the best bits of each. As such "The Rocker" is routine from the overall story of Fish coming good by the end to the moments along the way such as Fish trying to act like a rocker and wrecking hotels only to start feeling his age. It is also less than subtle when it comes to the formula and after we witness Fish being dumped from his band Vesuvius you can guess two things, history has a chance of repeating itself and at some point Fish will come face to face with his old band mates and realise he is in a better place than them.
But the truth is "The Rocker" is meant to be formula because this is a movie which thrives on being so familiar so you can just be entertained by the humour. Now there are some nice touches, it may pass a lot of people by there is a nice brief cameo from former Beatles drummer Pete Best which the story slightly mimics. And the whole pastiche of 80s rock is surprisingly effective being comical for being so true with singers with there long hair rocking out with the mic. But there is also a lot of moronic stupidity and lets just say a scene where Fish is rocking a pocket of puke is the height of stupidity. It does mean that some of the humour works but equally some doesn't at it feels like at times a lot of jokes are thrown in just out of the hope some will work.
What is nice is that in amongst the humour there is some ingenuity and whilst the rehearsal via webcam with Fish drumming naked is stupid it morphs into something intelligent as the whole Youtube phenomena is mentioned with the video getting lots of hits and becoming the bands launching pad. It is these nice touches, jokes which go from stupid to either clever or in a few cases touching which make "The Rocker" more than just a copycat movie.
As for the acting well first up Emma Stone definitely pulls of the sexy rock chick look and Teddy Geiger as lead singer Curtis has this strange quite charisma going on. But whilst there are also notable names such as Christina Applegate, Jane Lynch, Bradley Cooper and Jason Sudeikis in various roles "The Rocker" is really all about Rainn Wilson as Fish. Now the obvious thing is that because of the similarities to "School of Rock" Rainn does at times come across a little too similar to Jack Black's Dewey but then he has this middle aged wannabee thing going on, almost the embarrassing middle age wannabe never-will-be thing you see on talent shows with his 80s clothes and delusional attitude. It is because of Rainn not only delivering plenty of comedy but also making us warm to Fish that "The Rocker" stands on its own two feet.
And what is surprising seeing this is a comedy is that the music is actually quite good. The opening number for Vesuvius is perfect 80s rock which really takes you back yet the songs with "A.D.D." are just as good with a good beat, a decent tune and basically have a catchy energy to them.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "The Rocker" feels like the offspring of various other comedy rock movies it works. It manages to fill this routine story with enough jokes and some good music so that rather than feeling like it is a knock off it entertains in its own right.