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August 21, 2008 | Comments ()


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Take a Walk on the Mild Side


The Rocker / Agent Bedhead

Film Reviews | August 21, 2008 | Comments ()


Oh, Rainn Wilson, you adorable schmuck. This particular film review holds a vague air of schmaltzy sentimental value for me, for the very first Pajiban film review (ha!) that I endured was for The Last Mimzy, in which Wilson tiptoed into the small role of a skeptical, dorky high-school science teacher. At the time, I had no fucking idea who the dude was, for I am one of the poor, unfortunate souls for whom the television set holds very little value. Thus, for the duration of “The Office,” I have, unlike many of you, held little connection to Rainn Wilson. However, I was somewhat determined to, if possible, enter this review with at least some benefit of perspective as to what made this guy so appealing, since the audience for this film will, undoubtedly, be composed largely of Dwight Schrute fans. While I am somewhat embarrassed to report that I am now a Shrute convert, this also works a double-edged pocket protector in the sense that it makes the movie more disappointing than it would have been on a dry run. As a result, I held the vain hope that the “pocket of puke” scene featured in trailers wasn’t an indicator of how entirely hurl-inducing this film’s general sense of humor would be.

Dammit, this is not an eight-foot sub.

The Rocker is invested with a lot of talent, including director Peter Cattaneo, whose display of skill in The Full Monty led a movie about unemployed, out-of-shape, one-off male strippers to four Oscar nominations (but just one win for Best Score, since it was the year of the almighty and overrated Titanic). As a similarly lighthearted comedy with a few hidden life lessons, The Rocker would have ideally served as a decent starring vehicle for Wilson, who ends up rocking that pocket of puke as far as he possibly can, which isn’t far, considering the limited humor involved with bodily fluids. This isn’t to say that Wilson doesn’t try, because he obviously possesses comedic talent and the slightly off-kilter charisma to pull it off. The laughs just aren’t to be found in this particular film, which is also a shame in that Will “I’ve Made A Huge Mistake” Arnett (who seems to have a hit-and-miss record in choosing projects) is very competent here and clearly, enjoyed dressing up in leopard-print pants a bit too much. As is the case in so many other comedies, the fault lies mostly with the film’s immature script, which was penned by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky and based upon a story by Ryan Jaffe.

Essentially, this is a film about a rockin’ dude, who never really grew up but has now reached a clichéd version of mid-life crisis. Two decades ago, Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson) was the drummer for Vesuvius, a Cleveland-based glam metal band, who was on the verge of making it, selling out, and bagging the babes. However, one condition to securing a record deal was that Vesuvius rid themselves of their drummer. So, the band mates (Arnett, Fred Armisen, and Bradley Cooper) tell him to get lost, and Fish begrudgingly resigns himself to the passive-aggressive glory of office-cubicle life. After toiling away for 20 years, Fish gets fired from his latest job and has to shack up with in the attic of his sister’s family home. One day, his nephew, Matt (Josh Gad), begs Fish to take over the drums for his band’s (named A.D.D.) prom gig. Although Matt’s band mates, Curtis (Teddy Geiger) and Amelia (Emma Stone, channeling fellow droll redheads Alicia Witt and Laura Prepon) don’t immediately take to this weird old guy that solves all hair problems with ” A little bit of love, a lot of product,” Fish ends up sticking around. Naturally, one performance is not enough, and through lazy screenwriting, Fish ends up rehearsing with the band and, not quite understanding that by the power of video cam, he’s recording himself while playing the drums naked. Through the magic of YouTube, this video goes viral, and, the band rises to ubiquity and, ultimately, Fish has to deal with his feelings of inadequacy and confront his old band mates, blah fucking blah.

As an audience, we might as well just consign ourselves to the fact that any film geared towards the YouTube Generation will necessarily contain YouTube as a plot-pushing device. After all, filmmakers still, apparently, consider the Internet to be a relative novelty. Of course, no crappy comedy would be complete without some contrived romance, which comes in the form of Fish hitting on his lead singer’s mom, played by Christina Applegate, who doesn’t seem any more enthused about this role than we do at realizing that Kelly fucking Bundy is now old enough to be a teenager’s mother.

Yes, it is late August, and the theaters are now a dumping ground for all the crap that couldn’t compete against the summer blockbusters. However, audiences shouldn’t settle by merely shrugging and accepting films that are “a good way to pass the time” or are better than, say, spending two hours getting a root canal. The Rocker is no way to spend those Schrute bucks.

Agent Bedhead (a.k.a. “Kimberly”) lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can be found at agentbedhead.com.


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