The Rocker (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Cattaneo|
|Story by||Ryan Jaffe|
|Music by||Chad Fischer|
|Cinematography||Anthony B. Richmond|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$8.8 million|
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 the late 1980s, Robert "Fish" Fishman (Rainn Wilson) is the drummer in Vesuvius, a fictional heavy metal/glam metal band from Cleveland, Ohio on the verge of making it big. The band is offered a recording contract with one condition - Fish must be replaced as drummer with the president of the record company's nephew. After initially refusing, the band caves when their manager tells them they would get to tour as the opening act for Whitesnake.
20 years later, Vesuvius remains an immensely successful band, while Fish is working a mundane office job, which he is fired from for attacking a co-worker who tried to force him to listen to Vesuvius' new album. After being kicked out by his girlfriend, he is taken in by his sister Lisa (Jane Lynch) and her family. Matt (Josh Gad), Fish's high school-aged nephew, plays keyboards in an alternative rock band called A.D.D., along with his friends Curtis (Teddy Geiger) and Amelia (Emma Stone). The band is scheduled to play their school's prom but the gig is in jeopardy when their drummer is 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, taking Lisa's car without permission, resulting in the band being arrested.
When Fish is kicked out of his sister's house and rents the sweltering basement of his favorite Chinese restaurant, the band invents a new way to practice via four-way iChat. To the disgust of his bandmates, Fish performs in the nude to try and stay cool. The video of the practice is leaked and 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, which again results in the band's arrest.
After bailing them out, Kim, Curtis's mother (Christina Applegate), promises the other parents she will stay for the remainder of the tour, so their children will not 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 quits. Curtis eventually convinces him to put aside his grudge against his former bandmates and play the show. Fish meets Vesuvius before the show to discover they have become vain and arrogant, using faux British accents, and actually do not remember Fish until one bandmember says he faintly remembers. Discovering that he is able to move on, Fish wishes Vesuvius a great show. Fish and the band perform to a standing ovation. After their gig, Amelia and Curtis, and Fish and Kim both begin a relationship. Vesuvius takes the stage, and during their set the lead singer's microphone falls off the stand while the voice track of their song continues, then one line of the song starts incessantly sounding like a broken record, revealing that they have been lip-syncing. The audience condemns Vesuvius and chants an encore for A.D.D. Over David's (the band's manager) objections, the band dismisses him and performs for the crowd once again.
- Rainn Wilson as Robert “Fish” Fishman
- Christina Applegate as Kim Powell
- Josh Gad as Matt Gadman
- Teddy Geiger as Curtis Powell
- Emma Stone as Amelia Stone
- Will Arnett as Lex Drennan
- Fred Armisen as Wayne Kerr
- Howard Hesseman as Nev Gator
- Lonny Ross as Timmy Sticks
- Jason Sudeikis as David Marshall
- Bradley Cooper as Trash Grice
- Jon Glaser as Billy Ault
- Jane Lynch as Lisa Gadman
- Jeff Garlin as Stan Gadman
- Demetri Martin as Kip
- Aziz Ansari as Aziz
- Nicole Arbour as Trashy Groupy
- Pete Best as The Guy at the Bus Stop
- Jane Krakowski as Carol (Fish's Ex Girlfriend)
- Samantha Weinstein as Violet
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.
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.
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, 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 sweetheart...you 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 freejennanow.com, 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 www.myspace.com/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. 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.
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." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 53 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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. 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.
- Jon "Fish" Fishman is the real life drummer and namesake of the Vermont-based jam band Phish.
- Robert shouting "I am a golden fish" before falling off a roof in the film is a reference to Billy Crudup's Almost Famous in which a character says "I am a golden god" before threatening to jump off a roof into the pool. Which in turn is based on Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, declaring the same. (Incidentally, Rainn Wilson had a minor role in Almost Famous.)
- The Rocker at Box Office Mojo
- The Rocker locations, IMDb
- The Rocker soundtrack, IMDb
- Keith England MySpace page
- "Song from movie The Rocker to hit Rock Band alongside Cruefest tracks". videogamesblogger.com. June 29, 2008. Retrieved 2015-02-13.
- A Personal Message From Jenna’s "Friend", Rainn Wilson an entry from the MySpace blog of Jenna Fischer
- The Rocker at Rotten Tomatoes