Written by Hombre Divertido
The story is predictable, the music is bubblegum, the performances are one-dimensional, and a lot of the humor is lowbrow, but The Rocker has an innocent quality that is endearing. It is not trying to be anything more than a simple "slacker rises above adversity" story, and on that level it is successful.
Rainn Wilson from The Office attempts to parlay his television success into big screen dollars in his first starring vehicle. He plays Robert “Fish” Fishman, star drummer of one of the hottest up-and-coming bands of the eighties. Just before the band hits it big, Fish is cut loose. His former band rises to Hall-of-Fame status over the next twenty years as Fish ends up living in his sister’s attic.
Luckily, Fish has a nephew named Matt, played with a subtleness that most Judd Apatow movies could use, by Josh Gad. Matt has a band that is set to play their high school prom when they lose their drummer. In steps Fish and the rest is 102 minutes of cheap humor stemming from Wilson being thrown into this band full of innocent high school kids.
Surprisingly, it is the innocence of the high-school kids that makes this film work rather than Wilson's humor or the predictable, yet far-fetched, romance between Fish and the mother (Christina Applegate) of the band’s lead singer (Teddy Geiger). The band (Gad, Geiger, and Emma Stone) is made up of talented kids who are sincere in their love of making music. Yes, the insertion of Fish into their innocent world creates some good “Fish out of water” comedic moments, but it is the coming of age moments of the three youths that leaves the audience wanting more.
The similarities to School of Rock are obvious, unfortunately however, the characters are not fleshed out as well, and the humor is more crude. This movie leaves too many stones unturned as we see Fish showing the wear and tear that being a rock drummer has on a middle-aged man’s body, but it is never discussed, nor is his talent as a drummer. There is much angst amongst the young band mates that is played out in subtle look after subtle look. For her part, Applegate brings a nice energy to the screen but is underutilized here.
Recommendation: You will see every turn on this trip coming a mile away. Wilson is good, but his training on The Office has him focusing more on facial expressions, and he has yet to develop into the physical comedian that is needed here. Yes it’s predictable, but the kids and their story make this film worth renting when it hits the shelves.