Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic
An obnoxious entry into the "underdog makes good" subgenre.
The Rocker wants to be an "underdog makes good" movie much like a previous movie by its director, Peter Cattaneo’s The Full Monty. By while that film gave us eccentric characters that we liked and wanted to succeed, this film gives us Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman (Rainn Wilson). Fishman used to be a great drummer but he was dumped by his former band and has wallowed in obscurity for the past twenty or so years. That is until his nephew’s high school rock band needs a drummer and asks him to help out. Will this be the start of a new career for Fishman, or will he flop out like he did the first time?
Cattaneo’s new film tries hard to repeat the formula of his indie hit The Full Monty and that might be one of the reasons why it’s so scattershot. It starts with Fishman, whose desperation to make good has its funny moments, but overall he’s mostly an annoying character. Wilson who is so good in the television series The Office is certainly no Will Ferrell but that doesn’t stop him from trying, maybe too hard. His depiction of a clumsy dope who can do nothing if not play the drums, is too forced and self conscious to allows us to really root for the guy, the word obnoxious comes to mind.
As Fishman’s band gains some popularity and travels across the country there are some clever moments especially when it comes to the young band members needing permission from their parents to do things that Wilson takes for granted. However when the mother of one of the band members (Christina Applegate) falls for Fishman it takes more than a suspension of disbelief to buy into for sure. The formula here is so predictable that we know the band will get its big show, and that something will go wrong before it ends up going oh so right. The Rocker falls well short of standing out amongst the better examples of the "underdog makes good" movie.