Home | Review Archive | The Bucket 'Blog | Screening Log | Film Festival Coverage | Contact Danny


  The Rocker

Starring: Rainn Wilson, Josh Gad, Emma Stone, Teddy Geiger, Christina Applegate

Directed by: Peter Cattaneo

Produced by: Tom McNulty, Shawn Levy

Written by: Wallace Wolodarsky & Maya Forbes (screenplay), Ryan Jaffe (story)

Distributor: 20th Century Fox


     It’s tough for me to write a review for The Rocker that is as negative as the one it deserves because, all told, I’d probably pop the movie into my DVD player and watch it again right now if the opportunity presented itself. There’s something inherently pleasant and digestible about the picture’s airy entertainment-value; it is as charming as a project of its relatively-low level of intelligence could be. Nonetheless, given that The Rocker presents itself as a comedy, there’s something clearly missing from the equation: fresh belly-laughs. Only on very seldom occasions did I actually chuckle out loud as I watched the film, and never did I burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter. A comedy without its share of riotous moments is like (pardon the trite simile) a fish without water: a work that is deprived of a crucial element of its existence and therefore has no potential to reach full operating capacity. Yes, I enjoyed The Rocker – enough to be contented by the thought of re-watching it in a home-viewing environment, at least. But did it show me any new or inventive comedy? No, and that’s just the problem: we American moviegoers are all too satisfied by settling for the familiar, a notion that could very well be lending to the collapse of popular entertainment as we know it. Truth be told, it’s probably better for our artistic sensibilities that we not see The Rocker, however benign and mildly-amusing the movie may be.

     The ever-reliable (but, as it would turn out, not always as hilarious as he is on TV’s “The Office”) Rainn Wilson stars as Robert “Fish” Fishman, a 1980s hair metal drummer who is dumped by his band, Vesuvius, when it is offered a record-deal on the condition that Fish is replaced by an investing executive’s son. Vesuvius makes it big and Fish is still ailing from his unlucky fate twenty years later. Kicked out of his job at a call-center when he explodes at the sound of Vesuvius’ comeback CD being played by a coworker, Fish unexpectedly finds a new band to play in when he moves in with his brother’s (Jeff Garlin) family. It’s called ADD, and it’s made up of Fish’s teenage nephew (Josh Gad) and his friends (Emma Stone and Teddy Geiger), whose sole goal is to play a decent set at the high-school prom. ADD becomes much bigger than any of its three original members and newfound drummer had planned, however, when a YouTube video of Fish practicing in the nude—after Fish is forced to move out due to his irresponsible behavior, the group must practice via webcam, a device Fish does not fully understand the visual capabilities of—goes viral. The band is signed to a record deal and a tour, allowing Fish to stir up a great deal of commotion and perhaps get back at Vesuvius.

     While typing up the above synopsis, I realized that I don’t have much more to say about The Rocker. The movie exists and it is what it is. While lead Wilson fits the bill as Fish, he does exactly what the rest of the cast does: follow the script. And given that the script isn’t that funny or original, the movie simply tends to coast along on autopilot, nearly realizing that it is the latest average product to be pushed out of the Hollywood studio-system for mass consumption. With director Peter Cattaneo clearly not allowing his cast any room for improvisation, The Rocker becomes locked into the mediocrity of its material. In fact, the movie’s best quality seems to be that it is always quite comfortable with said mediocrity, remaining stylish and spirited in order to keep things pleasant if uninspired. The approach lends itself to an okay movie-going experience, but it seems to me that there’s no real reason for one to shell out ten bucks to see The Rocker when they could rent similar, smarter music-based comedies like School of Rock and This is Spinal Tap. Hell, even current releases Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express, while equally as unsuccessful by definition, at least take a few admirable comedic chances and prove to be superior films in the process. As much as viewers may be comfortable with The Rocker, the movie doesn’t merit anything more from them than a lazy cable-viewing in a year from now.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 8.20.2008

Screened on: 8.18.2008 at the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas in San Diego, CA.


The Rocker is rated PG-13 and runs 102 minutes.

Back to Home