The Rocker (2008)

Rated: PG-13 for drug and sexual references, nudity and language.
Length: 102 minutes
Grade: BDBD=B-
Budget: $15 million
Box Office: $15 million (6 U.S., 2 Intl., 6 DVD)

Written by: Maya Forbes (Monsters vs Aliens), Wallace Wolodarsky (Monsters vs Aliens), and Ryan Jaffe (First movie)
Directed by: Peter Cattaneo (Opal Dream, Lucky Break, Full Monty)
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Christian Applegate, Teddy Geiger, Josh Gad, and Emma Stone, with appearances by Will Arnett, Jason Sudeikis, Bradley Cooper, Jane Krakowski, Jeff Garlin, Jane Lynch, Demetri Martin, and Lonny Ross.

When their drummer is expelled prior to the prom gig, the teen trio of ADD look to the keyboardist’s uncle (Fish), a washed up former rock drummer booted from mega-super-band “Vesuvius” just before their big break in this comedic mockumentary ever so loosely based on the tragic life of former Beatle Pete Best. Even though prom is a disaster, a viral video of Fish drumming in the nude propels the band on a nationwide tour.

Entertainment Value: B
I didn’t actually expect very much of this movie, but as you can tell from the huge number of comedic actors involved in it, the thing really was pretty funny. Hilarious in some parts, clunky and cumbersome in others, and certainly not anything like a great story. Think of this as Spinal Tap meets Saturday Night Live.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sex/Nudity D, Violence C, Language D
This isn’t the most vulgar PG-13 movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly in the running. It’s full of drinking, drunkenness, partying, comic violence, vomiting, sexual references, and extended scenes of partial or back nudity. Language is heavy for PG-13. I’d say PG-15 at least is appropriate here.

Significant Content: B
The world is full of people who obey the rules and behave and also those who are full of life and live accordingly. Rock and Roll needs and breeds the latter type, who are obnoxious and yet endearing for their childish enthusiasm. Growing up and settling down aren’t everything they’re cracked up to be. Holding onto grudges will poison you forever. Follow your dreams, and eventually you’ll get what you deserve. Live your life with no regrets. Success can change you for the worse if you aren’t careful. Agents are evil…shock.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
The best way I can think to describe this movie is as funny but ugly. It’s just a big old mess, artistically speaking, but that’s probably on purpose, and the jokes are what keep it from being terrible.

Discussion Questions:
~Who changes the most in this movie as a result of achieving success? What keeps them from going totally bad?
~Would you want a friend like Fish? Do you think he would be good for you?
~If you had been in Fish’s situation with Vesuvius (or Pete Best’s with the Beatles), how hard do you think it would have been to accept? What part of what you had missed out on would be most difficult to let go?
~Are drum machines and synthesizers good for music?
~What is the downside of living you life with the only goal being to have no regrets for not trying something?
If teenagers want to start a band, would you generally encourage them or discourage them?
~Do you think the real life implications of hard partying are as innocent and inconsequential as this movie seems to portray?

Overall Grade: B-
I must have clipped at least fifteen hilarious one- or two-liners, but the vast majority of them I can’t play on the air. That should tell you everything you need to know about this movie.

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