Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Rocker

Year 2, Day 9 - 1/9/10 - Movie #374

BEFORE: I've got a few more bio-pics on the way, but it's going to take me a couple days to get them off my DVR and onto DVD, so I'll continue with the comic rise-to-fame movies, and back-to-back movies starring actors from "The Office" - Jenna Fischer last night, and Rainn Wilson tonight.

THE PLOT: The story of Robert "Fish" Fishman, a failed drummer who is given a second chance at fame.

AFTER: Really, it's the Pete Best story, transplanted from the 60's to the 80's. People join and leave bands all the time, but the worst-case scenario has to be getting kicked out of a band JUST before they hit it big. You might think, well, why not just join another band? But it's not like Pete Best could have just joined the Rolling Stones, or Gerry and the Pacemakers, or the Animals, or any of the hundreds of bands that followed the Beatles. Come to think of it, why didn't he?

The sting of being kicked out of the hair-metal band Vesuvius hit Fishman (Rainn Wilson) so badly that he never got over it, and twenty years later has a soul-killing telemarketing job in Cleveland, living in the shadow of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, always wondering what could have been if his life had gone the way he wanted.

Eventually his nephew (Josh Gad) needs a drummer for his high-school band, A.D.D. in order to play at the prom, and Fishman is coaxed out of retirement - but he ruins the prom with a self-indulgent drum solo. So to make it up to the band, he gets them a gig, and then an improbable series of events propels them onto the national stage.

The band rehearses via non-time-delayed web-cam network (is that even possible?) and Fishman prefers to rehearse naked - his niece uploads the video to YouTube (which doesn't accept videos with nudity, by the way) and the band's viral success leads to a record contract and a tour.

Once out on tour, Fishman gets to lead the rock-star life that he missed out on the first time, getting wasted, trashing hotel rooms, getting arrested - he's the immature one and the high-school kids in the band are much more responsible. But he is a role model, if an unlikely one, since he knows which songs have to be up-tempo, and which lyrics have to be tweaked - the songwriter's teen-angst anthem "I'm So Bitter" gets changed to "I'm Not Bitter", and becomes a runaway hit. I liked the music of A.D.D., I could actually see some of those songs as hits, but what do I know about the music that the kids listen to these days?

I won't spoil the ending, except to say that Fish eventually has to grow up, get over it and face his old bandmates, and the result is a heartwarming surprise, and a life lesson.

Co-starring Christina Applegate, Jane Lynch (carrying over from last night's movie), Jeff Garlin, Jason Sudeikis (from SNL), Will Arnett, Fred Armisen (SNL), Bradley Cooper, Lonny Ross (30 Rock), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Howard Hesseman, Aziz Ansari (Parks & Recreation) and Demetri Martin (as an ambitious music-video director)

RATING: 6 out of 10 headbands

1 comment:

  1. Naw, it wouldn't have worked. Three or four people can have a live conversation over the Internet but four musicians can't play to the same beat.

    It kind of refers back to our earlier conversation about tossing in a line of dialogue to cover a potential problem. This prolly wasn't a good time to "fix" things (if the kid had found a way to fix the latency problem, he had a million-dollar patent on his hands) but at least the filmmakers' hearts were in the right place.

    (A better example is the Three Stooges short where the boys are mistaken for star college football players and bribed into playing a key game for a pro team. Columbia rented a football field but obviously they couldn't afford to fill the stands with extras. Solution? One line of dialogue: "And don't worry, boys: we know you're worried about losing your amateur status...we'll fix it so nobody sees you three play!")

    But that's not the most important thing about this movie. How damned depressing is it to realize that you're watching a movie in which Christina Applegate is playing a teenager's MOM?!?