Director: Stephen Herek
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Spall, Jason Flemyng
MPAA Rating: (for language, sexuality and some drug content)
Running Time: 1:50
Release Date: 9/7/01
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Review by Mark Dujsik
Music is, at the same time, one of the most uniting and polarizing of all art. Peopleís taste in music can help determine whether or not youíll get along with that person and to what extent you will. Great music can bring out intelligent discussion, invigorating talent, and a great sense of personal satisfaction. Even bad music brings people together, and Rock Star proves it. All right, 80s heavy metal isnít bad music, but itís certainly a genre that had (and probably has) its fans, naysayers, and those who are just indifferent to it. Rock Star wonít change your opinion of the music, and itís definitely aimed at the fans.
Chris Coles (Mark Wahlberg) is the lead singer for a Steel Dragon tribute band who completely idolizes the actual lead singer. His room is a shrine to the band; he has a misprinted album signed by the entire band; and he dresses and does everything just like him. The band is worried about Chrisí attitude and lets him go. He wakes up one morning to a phone call from one of the real Steel Dragons asking for him to come out to California. He goes with his manager/girlfriend Emily (Jennifer Aniston) and discovers an audition to replace the lead singer. He gets the job, obviously, changes his name to "Izzy," and has a great timeóat first.
Will the reality live up to the dream? The movie plays out about as conventionally and predictably as possible. Thereís another woman for Emily to be jealous of; thereís a rival cover band; there are a lot of repeating scenarios. The family is comprised of a mean brother and the most understanding parents this side of the dad in American Pie. Writer John Stockwell has given us every setup and payoff, and none of it really goes anywhere new. Where does it go? Well, Chris and Emily are slightly naive, and apparently the audience should be too. When Chris is exposed to sex, drugs, and many other job perks, the movie seems to want to surprise us. Thereís a definite good/bad morality present hereóbad is the music, good is where Chris came from. There are no shades of gray, and by the end when Chris finds what he wants, you begin to wonder if he found Jesus too.
For all the clichťs and preaching, Rock Star does have a few positive aspects. The performance scenes are fun, and watching Chris go from innocent to full-fledged rock star each consecutive performance is a major part of it. Wahlberg is very charming here. All of the screen-presence that was missing in Planet of the Apes is on display. He is definitely the movieís best asset.
But he canít save the movie from its flaws. Itís been fourteen years since This is Spinal Tap, the most encompassing heavy metal movie, was released. Thinking about it just shows how forgettable Rock Star ultimately is.
Note: Movies are very prone now to showing outtakes in a last ditch attempt to get laughs. Rock Star is no exception. However, it was probably not the best idea. Why? Well, the slate has the movieís working title Metal God on it. This fact doesnít exactly give the best impression of the confidence the filmmakers had in their project. Why the change? My guess is that the implied blasphemy would offend the targets of the hidden agenda. But then again, I also liked Jurassic Park III.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.