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Rocker, The (DVD Review)

26 Jan, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey


Street 1/27/09
Box Office $6.3 million
$29.98 two-DVD set, $39.98 Blu-ray
Rated 'PG-13' for drug and sexual references, nudity and language.
Stars Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Jeff Garlin, Jane Lynch.

A hard-luck, out of work, middle-aged musician becomes an unexpected friend and father figure to a teenage band in The Rocker, a movie that expertly mixes stories about coming of age and midlife crisis, MILF jokes, and images of nudity you’ll never forget, no matter how hard you try.

Rainn Wilson (“The Office,” Juno) is Robert “Fish” Fishman, whose greatest claim to fame is he was kicked out of Vesuvius, a 1980s metal band, right before they shot to stardom (or as one person puts it: “It’s like winning the lottery and then having the ticket ripped up in front of your face”). Twenty years later, the Fish is about what you’d expect from someone who only knows how to rock: poor, uneducated, single, and living in his sister’s attic.

Opportunity knocks in the form of Fish’s nephew, whose band needs a drummer for the prom. From there, the Fish takes the teens under his sweaty armpits, and, thanks to an unplanned, naked-drumming YouTube video, the band becomes an overnight hit. Fish teaches the kids what it means to rock (trashing hotel rooms, collecting groupies, getting arrested), while also offering odd and uncensored “adult” advice, as they deal with being teens. Everything’s going great for the band, until past meets present, and the Fish’s band is asked to open for Vesuvius as they’re inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Wilson is pretty much the same character we love from “The Office” — not even half as smart as he thinks he is, always saying something that makes complete sense to him, and him alone, and completely oblivious to his own idiocy. He’s that loveable fool you’d never loan money to, but you still take his phone calls because hearing about his sad-sack life always makes you feel better about yourself.

While Wilson is funny in the lead, it’s his fellow band members and their families that push The Rocker from good to great. Christina Applegate is wonderful as the mom of the band’s lead singer and the Fish’s potential love interest, and all three of the teenagers have their own well-written story. A pretty awesome script and perfect casting turns a predictable story into a surprisingly fun couple of hours.

The home video comes stacked with bonuses, including two commentaries, 10 deleted scenes, a digital copy, a gag reel, a half dozen featurettes, a music video, podcasts and more.

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