The Rocker (film)

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The Rocker
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Cattaneo
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byRyan Jaffe
Music byChad Fischer
CinematographyAnthony B. Richmond
Edited by
  • Charles Kaplan
  • Brad E. Wilhite
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 12, 2008 (2008-06-12) (CineVegas)
  • August 20, 2008 (2008-08-20) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$8.8 million[1]

The Rocker is a 2008 American comedy film directed by Peter Cattaneo and written by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky, from a story by Ryan Jaffe. The film stars Rainn Wilson as a failed musician who goes on tour with his nephew's band after one of their songs goes viral. Christina Applegate, Jeff Garlin, Josh Gad, Teddy Geiger and Emma Stone also star. It was released on August 20, 2008, received mixed reviews and was a box office bomb, grossing just $8 million against its $15 million budget.


In 1986, Vesuvius, a rock band from Cleveland, Ohio, performs at a local theater. After the show, their manager informs them that a record company is interested in signing them, but only if they replace drummer Robert "Fish" Fishman with the president of the record company's nephew. At first the band refuses, as they have been together since high school and agree that Fish is the heart and soul of their band, but when their manager tells them they would get to tour as the opening act for Whitesnake, the band relents and drives away in their van, without Fish.

Twenty years later, Vesuvius remains an immensely successful band, while Fish is living a normal life. Matt Gadman, Fish's high school-aged nephew, plays keyboards in an alternative rock band called A.D.D., along with his friends Curtis Powell and Amelia Stone. The band is scheduled to play their school's prom but the gig is in jeopardy when their drummer gets suspended from school. Matt convinces the others to allow Fish to fill in, but he ruins the gig when he launches into an impromptu drum solo. However, Fish is so excited by Curtis' songs and the chance to play again, he convinces them to let him join the band if he can deliver another gig. After repeated failed attempts, he finally succeeds in securing a gig at a club in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Because the other members are all minors, they have to sneak out to the gig but are apprehended in the process.

After Fish is forced to rent the basement of his favorite Chinese restaurant, the band invents a new way to practice via four-way iChat. To the dismay of his bandmates, Fish performs in the nude to try and stay cool. The video of the practice quickly goes viral under the title of the "naked drummer band". The band is signed to a recording contract by the same label as Vesuvius, and are sent on a midwest tour. However, Fish commits stereotypical acts, despite the physical costs on his body, and he vandalizes a hotel room, causing the band to be apprehended again.

After securing A.D.D.'s release, Kim, Curtis' mother, promises the other parents she will stay for the remainder of the tour, so their kids won't be influenced by Fish's antics.

The label asks A.D.D. to open a show for Vesuvius honoring their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fish refuses to play the gig and Kim kisses him in a failed attempt to convince him to let go of his anger and finally move on. David sees the kiss and exaggerates the details of the ordeal to Curtis. At a later gig, Curtis announces they would be playing the show, angering Fish and driving him to leave the band. When the new drummer from the label doesn't work out, Curtis eventually apologizes to Fish and convinces him to put aside his resentment and play the show. After meeting Vesuvius before the show to discover they have become vain and arrogant while sporting fake British accents (except for the drummer, who is actually English), Fish decides to wish Vesuvius good luck. Fish and the band perform to a standing ovation. After their gig, Amelia and Curtis, as well as Fish and Kim both begin a relationship. During Vesuvius' set, the lead singer's microphone falls off the stand while the voice track of their song continues revealing that they have been lip-syncing, vindicating Fish. Vesuvius' recording malfunctions, revealing their lip-synching to the audience who boos them off the stage and chants an encore for A.D.D., performing for the crowd once again.



The Rocker was mostly filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with some exterior shots filmed in Cleveland, Ohio from July to September 2007.[2]

The songs attributed to the band A.D.D. were mostly written and produced by musician/producer Chad Fischer, of the band Lazlo Bane. Fischer also performed most of the music, with Teddy Geiger singing the lead vocals. The songs attributed to the band Vesuvius were written and performed by the members of Lazlo Bane, with lead vocals sung by Keith England.[3][4]


To promote the movie, the song "Promised Land", as performed by the fictional band Vesuvius, was released as free downloadable content for the video game Rock Band, which is shown being played in the movie.[5]

A viral marketing effort for the film was begun on August 11, 2008, when Rainn Wilson posted a message to the MySpace blog of Jenna Fischer, his co-star from The Office. According to his message,[6] he had "kidnapped the lovely Jenna, put her, bound, in the trunk of my Firebird and logged onto her MySpace to send out this bulletin....To free America's must attend my new movie, 'The Rocker', which opens August 20th....As soon as the film grosses 18.7 Mil, she will be released and given a peach smoothie." In the end the film was not even close to grossing that much money. A subsequent blog entry pointed readers to, where videos were posted and features such as a "Free Jenna Game" and countdown tickers could be found.

'The Rocker: Live The Dream' was a competition to promote the film via MySpace and Kerrang! magazine in the UK. Over 1200 bands entered original songs at therockeruk for a chance to win a photo shoot and interview with Kerrang! magazine, a trip to the MySpace Black Curtain Screening in London, Gibson musical equipment and an assortment of 20th Century Fox merchandise. Ten bands went through to the final judging and Scottish band Alburn were chosen by Kerrang! editor Paul Brannigan, as the winner.[citation needed] Alburn dressed and posed as characters from the film in the Kerrang! photo shoot. Rainn Wilson recorded a video message for the winning band, which was played at the MySpace Black Curtain Screening.

A Flash game titled The Rocker: TV Toss was also released. In the game, the player controls Fish (in 1st person view). The objective is to do damage to the hotel room by tossing TVs at various objects. The high score is calculated by means of the cost of objects damaged.


Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 41%, based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10. The site's consensus reads: "With a predictable and lightweight story, the earnest efforts of the cast are squandered by The Rocker's bland script."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 53 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8]

Box office[edit]

The Rocker was released on August 20, 2008 in the USA. It was a bomb at the worldwide box office, opening outside the Top 10 at #12 with $2.64 million for its first weekend, grossing less than $7 million overall during its entire theatrical run.[1] One of the stars of the film, Emma Stone, had another film (The House Bunny) open the same weekend. It fared much better than The Rocker, opening at #2.


  1. ^ a b c The Rocker at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ The Rocker locations, IMDb
  3. ^ The Rocker soundtrack, IMDb
  4. ^ Keith England MySpace page
  5. ^ "Song from movie The Rocker to hit Rock Band alongside Cruefest tracks". June 29, 2008. Retrieved 2015-02-13.
  6. ^ A Personal Message From Jenna’s "Friend", Rainn Wilson an entry from the MySpace blog of Jenna Fischer
  7. ^ The Rocker at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ Metacritic

External links[edit]