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The Rocker

Rainn Wilson in The Rocker

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IN MANY ways Peter Cattaneo’s The Rocker feels like a cover version of other, better movies. But for an energetic performance from Rainn Wilson, it may not have been an experience worth sampling.

Wilson plays failed drummer Robert “Fish” Fishman, a passionate drummer whose path to fame and fortune is seemingly ended when he gets unceremoniously kicked out of his eighties band, Vesuvius. An unlikely second chance comes in the form of his nephew’s high school band, ADD, which needs a new drummer. But while “Fish” embraces the opportunity whole-heartedly, his reckless enthusiasm threatens to sabotage things all over again.

Wilson, who is previously best-known to fans of the American version of The Office, makes for an endearing lead presence, even though a lot of his performance seems “borrowed” from Jack Black in the far-superior School of Rock.

He throws himself about (almost literally) with carefree abandon, but just about manages to keep “Fish” worth rooting for, no matter how wild (or naked and sweaty) his actions become.

It helps, too, that he’s given good support by the likes of Josh Gad, as his awkward nephew, and Christina Applegate, as a mother who gradually comes to respect “Fish” in spite of her own misgivings about him. Wilson and Applegate actually get to share a couple of genuinely charming moments.

Less successful is Teddy Geiger, as the band’s lead singer, Curtis, who seems charisma-free in the scenes that don’t involve him singing.

Cattaneo, who has still to realise the potential he displayed in The Full Monty, does succeed in delivering a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, usually involving physical comedy, but his film is never as funny as it should have been, suffers from an uneven tone (especially early on during some strangely super-human episodes) and is a little too reliant on formulaic devices.

And just about everyone could have benefited from a little more imagination and consistency in the screenplay, which would surely have enabled The Rocker to become a bigger hit.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 102mins
UK DVD Release: March 9, 2009