Rainn Wilson Goes Metal in The Rocker


Directed by Peter Cattaneo, The Rocker‘s more or less the Pete Best Story—the tale of a poor bastard who gets shitcanned right on the brink of record-bin immortality. The film opens in Cleveland, mid-1980s, where Rainn Wilson’s Robert “Fish” Fishman is behind the kit for Vesuvius, a metal band fronted by three head-bobbing, hair-waving morons (Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, and Bradley Cooper) whose loyalty only extends to the dotted line. Told to either ditch their drummer or lose a deal with a record label, his bandmates choose the former, sending Fish into a tailspin from which he never recovers. Until decades later, that is, when he falls in with A.D.D., the high-school band for which his portly, pale nephew (Josh Gad) plays keyboard. Fish wins over the sulking, songwriting frontman (Teddy Geiger) and the brooding, scowling guitarist (Emma Stone), and they’re signed and touring and sell-out famous within hours of making their inauspicious Interwebs debut. Sooner or later, they’re forced to choose between opening for Vesuvius or busting up the band. A juvenile fairy tale that plays like the pilot for a Jonas Brothers sitcom on the Disney Channel, The Rocker comes off as something penned by an old dude who hasn’t bought music since it was sold “on records,” or ever met a music executive who wasn’t a character in This Is Spinal Tap. This is sugary-sweet stuff—pop instead of rock.