Thursday, August 21, 2008

I've finally found a fifth movie to bring on my hypothetical tour bus.

Which is great, because for years when friends and I would talk about the top five movies we would HAVE to bring on tour (yes, we talked about this), assuming we ever went on tour (which we never have and probably never will), my list was always one film short. I only could really think of four rock-and-roll movies that made me happy and that made me feel good and inspired about music, which I think is an essential ingredient for a tour bus movie. Here's what I had (in no particular order):

1. This is Spinal Tap
2. School of Rock
3. Almost Famous
4. High Fidelity

Then I went to the theater last night and saw this film:

And lo and behold, my list is complete.

In a summer that's been pretty full of good or great movies, The Rocker is something of a surprise. I knew I would enjoy it because I A) love The Office and B) have an inappropriate love of hair metal, the genre which owns Rainn Wilson's character Robert Fishman as the movie begins. But I didn't think it would actually be a pretty sweet movie (and I mean that in two ways)... it made me smile and laugh consistently, and it made me want to immediately hop in an RV with my friends and hit the road as soon as I stepped out of the theater.

Put your fears aside, friends: despite the trailers, this movie has more to it than silly slapstick (I think most of that actually gets shown in the TV spots). It's not completely farcical... despite the fact that it's fairy-taleish, it is also somewhat grounded (except for a scene in the opening of the movie, and I wonder if there isn't something to the fact that the film only shows us fantastic, unbelieveable things in the faraway land of the 1980s). I mean, it's not incredibly likely that what we see in the film could happen, but it is possible... that's what makes the story inspirational. Is it corny? Yeah, a little. Less corny than School of Rock. Also quite funny.

For musicians, there is a lot to enjoy about this movie, a lot that rings true (as my friend Matt pointed out, we all know what it is like to fight for the attention of people who could care less that we are there). For non-musicians, I still think there's lots to like here... one of my favorite things was the running gag of Rainn Wilson's "rock" faces while drumming, and all it takes to laugh at that is a sense of humor. I'm gonna try to learn some of those for the next time I rock out to Vesuvius' "The Promised Land" on Rock Band.

Other things that are cool: good cast. Rainn Wilson is awesomely funny, and the rest of his band is great as well. It turns out the lead singer/songwriter of the fictional A.D.D. is a real-life musician named Teddy Geiger, and his musical ability is positively... radioactive? (GET IT?!)... but seriously his stuff is pretty good. Keyboardist/nephew to Fish Josh Gad is great, and I'd like to see him in more. Bassist Emma Stone (Jules from Superbad) is really good on screen as well, and also super-pretty, so there's that. It's nice to see Christina Applegate, who plays the coolest mom ever (a total MILMSLT... see the film). There are some cool cameos as well, including a handful from SNL and a surprising one from 30 Rock... oh, and a Beatle.

Past the opening, there weren't really any parts of this movie that made me think "oh, come on!" which is weird for a recent studio comedy. I never stopped enjoying the film, and I really want to see it again, which I will assuredly do when it moves down to the $5 club. So it is that I highly recommend The Rocker, especially if you are an aspiring musician and want to feel good about what you do. Or if you just want to enjoy yourself for a few hours... that's a good idea too.

Rating: * * * *


Anonymous said...

Hey "Mr. I don't normally like commercial comedies from typical hollywood"... Word to the wise: The Rocker, Spinal Tap, School of Rock, Almost Famous, and High Fidelity weren't "indie" films in the least (while all were attached to less commercial people, ala Rob Reiner, Richard Linklater, Cameron Crow, and Steven Frears... each film was distributed by major companies). Having said that, I'm glad the Rocker isn't as slapstick as the trailers make it out to be, and I'll consider checking it out when it moves to the 1.50 theater by our place. Cause I'll be damned if I don't find "rock face" eternally funny.

Eric Garneau said...

Marc, what I was implying was not that I don't like studio comedies but that I don't like most RECENT studio comedies. For instance, I'm one of the only people on the planet who doesn't like Anchorman. Really any of those Will Ferrell films... no thanks. Many of them just seem overridingly stupid to me. I said it about some film, and I can't remember which, but it applies to many: does a film want to be grounded and have heart, or does it want to be a zany parody of itself? It seems very rare that one movie can do both well, and yet many try. This is why I like Wedding Crashers... it is not so zany as to be unbelievable. It is, in my opinion, hilarious, and it has a good story, which makes it a winner... I think The Rocker fits in the same category.

Also, I would not call Almost Famous a comedy.

Anonymous said...

True dat. But you are wrong wrong wrong about anchorman. That's a desert island movie for me sir.