Within the first ten minutes, the creators of The Rocker make it readily apparent after Rainn Wilson punctures the top of a van with his drumsticks that you better relax and take this movie for what it is – a nonsensical farce attacking rock band cliché after cliché and offering a few catchy songs in the process.
Rainn Wilson, he of Dwight Schrute fame, plays Robert Fishman, the drummer of a band about to break it big in the early … Eighties? As you can imagine, they have to dump him in order to get the huge record deal, and so they do. Cut to Fishman twenty-some years later, still raging about the slight and going nowhere. As fate would have it, he must move back in with his sister, and she has a socially awkward son who just happens to need a – wait for it – drummer for his band’s gig at the school dance.
Through a series of misadventures, including a YouTube video featuring Wilson’s naked butt, he and his teenage band mates have to hit the road in order to promote an unlikely hit song.
Wilson takes this as his chance to finally live the life of a rocker, but (of course) eventually learns a few life lessons with the help of Christina Applegate – the lead singer’s improbable mom – and has a chance to outdo his original band, the one that dropped him all those years ago.
This is not meant to be anything but a circus, but there actually were a few good laughs amongst all the pratfalls and the young actors playing the band members did a nice enough job of keeping up with Wilson. There were also cameos galore from all the usual suspects.
Here’s the problem with actors playing eccentric characters on hit shows releasing movies – you can never quite differentiate between their television character and the character they play in the movie. Oh, sure, once actors move on and years go by, you forget they were ever even on a TV show such as with Tom Hanks, George Clooney, and Clint Eastwood. However, you also have those such as Michael Richards who will forever be Kramer no matter what he does. Steve Carell also seems to suffer from this ailment. No matter what movie I see him in, he’s the same guy to me. Anyway, Rainn Wilson does an adequate job of taking a role that allows him to play to his strengths, but the character is also quirky enough that you don’t see a carbon copy of Dwight Schrute. Perhaps a character who could be a distant relative of Dwight Schrute, but not Dwight himself.
So would I recommend The Rocker? If you’ve got nothing else to watch or have a burning desire to see more of Wilson’s naked body than anyone should, you could watch worse movies. And despite myself, some of the songs the fictional band performed were actually catchy.