I’ve been awfully negative over the past couple weeks – I know that. First, I hated The Mummy 3. And then I was disappointed with the ending of Pineapple Express … and, well, I’m just not spreading a positive aura lately.
So I thought I’d start off this review by saying something uplifting – something like: one of my favorite shows, The Office, has its season premiere on Sept. 25 …
(stay positive … stay positive … uh oh …)
Unfortunately, this will be your first chance in awhile to see Rainn Wilson (a.k.a. Dwight Schrute) being funny because his latest movie, The Rocker, is awful. Bad, bad, bad. Like, Mummy 3 bad (and goodbye positivity).
The Rocker’s main problem is that it has no idea what it wants to be. Does it want to be an over-the-top slapstick with cartoonish characters (Dumb and Dumber)? Is it trying to be a character-centered comedy with a heart (40-Year-Old Virgin)? Maybe it wants to be a lighthearted love note to music like Jack Black’s School of Rock. Actually, that movie’s the best comparison to The Rocker. But whereas School of Rock had a solid script and a clear passion for rock music, The Rocker has an awkward performance by Rainn Wilson and one of the most cookie-cutter plots imaginable.
The movie starts back in the 80s when Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson) is dumped by his band “Vesuvius,” right before they sign with a major label. Fast forward twenty years – Fish is living with his sister and in constant torment from the success of “Vesuvius.” But then his nephew’s band, in desperate need of a drummer, ask Fish to fill in for their gig at prom, and … well, just wind up the plot machine and let it go.
It’d take too long to explain how the band becomes famous, who hooks up with who, why Fish’s new band opens for Vesuvius and so on, but suffice it to say that you should be able to predict all of this and more in the first 30 minutes of the movie.
But let’s be honest – no one’s going to The Rocker looking for a landmark cinematic experience. I get that. A movie like this exists for just one reason – to make its audience laugh. But Wilson, separated from the brilliant writing on The Office and thrown into one “I’ve seen this before” scene after another, becomes less bizarre/quirky and more painful/desperate. Wilson gives the movie his all, but comes across as that wannabe class clown in your student ministry who’s trying SOOOOO hard to be funny that he makes everyone wish they were somewhere else.
But Wilson’s not the only awkward and unwieldy thing on screen – the movie’s message is more so. For awhile it’s about being yourself … and then it’s not. And then the message is about growing up … and then that goes away too. I think maybe it’s about never giving up on your dreams … but I’m not sure.
Couple this with your standard-issue PG-13 crassness (sexual innuendoes, middle-of-the-road profanity, very un-sexual rear nudity from “Fish”) and you’ve got a movie not worth seeing on any level.
My advice? Rent season 4 of The Office and get ready for the season 5, hour-long premiere a few weeks from now.
Josh Pease – NOT to be confused with Josh Treece – is on the HSM team at Saddleback and will be REALLY annoyed if they play too many “will they/won’t they” games with the Jim/Pam relationship this season. Feel free to email him with comments/suggestions for this column at email@example.com.