With the success of The Office, it was only a matter of time before the stars of the series started headlining their own projects. First out of the gate was John Krasinski, who has since been alongside the likes of Robin Williams and George Clooney. Next up was Rainn Wilson, who, unlike Krasinski, actually was the star of his first solo effort since debuting on The Office. Still, while Krasinski had the star power of big time celebrities to fuel his box office, The Rocker had little other than Wilson and a cavalcade of fellow NBC talent that mixed itself in with the rest of the cast. Suffering from disappointing critical reviews and an even more disappointing box office intake, The Rocker’s home video release came surprisingly late, likely done to coincide with the return of The Office.
Twenty years after being kicked out of his nearly famous ’80s hair band, Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson) finds himself trapped in a dead-end office job and living with his sister’s family. But when opportunity rocks, Fish gets a hilarious second chance at stardom, and without missing a beat, the desperate drummer vows to reclaim the rock-god throne he always thought he deserved!
Right off the bat this film wasn’t exactly what I figured it to be; while Wilson eventually fell into a Will Ferrell type role that had him both naked on screen and also acting obnoxious, the intro the film portrayed a different character altogether. It’s sad that the film fell into so many generic pitfalls, as the cast assembled here really is quite brilliant; out of the gate we have Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Bradley Cooper, Jeff Garlin, Emma Stone, Jane Lynch and Christina Applegate. In terms of acting talent and comedic timing, this film was never hurting; everyone of the cast members, both veteran performers as well as relative newcomers, were all done exceptionally well.
So what made the film so weak? The predictable script. Nothing about the films conclusion wasn’t seen a mile away and what started out feeling like an already weak SNL skit was extended to a near two hour film. Again, this isn’t anything new, but what really made it so disappointing was that when there were laughs in the film, they were genuinely good; the problem is they were so spread out that you were never rolling on the floor with laughter or wiping tears away from your eyes. In most cases it was simply too little too late and the only thing that saved the film was its moderately entertaining music, which was confusing in of itself.
How the drummer for a Guns N’ Roses style band eventually found happiness playing for a band that sounded like the next Coldplay, I don’t fully understand. He rarely gets to “rock” in the film and, again, while the music composed for the film is generally good, it really doesn’t fit with the moniker of the film. You hear more heavy metal from the films occasional rock track, whether it be provided by Twisted Sister or the films other handful of real metal tracks.
But that’s just the metal fan in me rebelling against this film that promised more rock music. In the end it wasn’t even the music I had an issue with, as I really just wish it was more entertaining. There’s nothing particularly bad or awful about the film and while you start to roll your eyes at some of the physical gags that Wilson subjects the audience to (falling out of the attic after you hit your head? Really?) are just so old that you’ve likely seen them thirty times before.
I won’t deny that the film wasn’t at least entertaining, but that was primarily due to the performers in it. Had the myriad of NBC stars not popped up in various roles (Jane Krakowski as Wilson’s girlfriend was a bit odd though), it probably would have been even less entertaining, but that’s just the way things go sometimes. It certainly looked like a fun film to make, but in the end I just wasn’t as entertained by it as I’d hoped. Worth a Rental for fans of the cast, but if you don’t have any real interest in the talent involved then you literally gain nothing from this one.
Fox has packaged up The Rocker in a standard two-disc Elite case (second disc is a digital copy) with the usual array of inserts: firmware notice, advertisement for other Fox titles, digital copy code, and a piece of paper with a security label attached. Oddly enough when you put the disc in, you’re treated to previews of upcoming Fox titles such as Marley & Me, arriving in theaters for Christmas 2008. Wait, what? Yeah these are old trailers, which makes you wonder when this film was originally supposed to be released on DVD and Blu-ray. Everything previewed has either been released in theaters or on home video already.
The AVC encoded feature is sharp from beginning to end, as one would expect from a modern film. Plenty of detail on the cloths in the film, but for the most part there really isn’t too much to feast your eyes upon (aside from Christina Applegate anyway) and you really won’t be shocked or amazed t the clarity of it, although it is certainly a step above standard definition. Perhaps it’s just because I was so underwhelmed by the film that I didn’t really notice much about the video or audio, which is especially strange. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track was clean and clear, but rarely did you actually feel as if you were surrounded with music; sure, concert sequences were more active in the surrounds than other scenes, but nothing that really made you feel as if you were actually there. English, French and Spanish DD5.1 tracks are included as well, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
There’s a full array of extras here, including:
Commentary with director Peter Cattaneo and actor Rainn Wilson
Commentary with actors Josh Gad, Teddy Geiger, Emma Stone and Jason Sudeikis
10 Deleted Scenes
Gag Reel (including separate options of “Matt Gags” and “Vesuvius Gags”)
Rainn Wilson: Office Rocker featurette
Pete Best Interview featurette
Behind The Band: Vesuvius featurette
Rock Beat With Fish Fishman featurette
The Music of The Rocker featurette
Rock Tales featurette
MTV Film Festival Panel
Fox Movie Channel Presents…In Character With The Rocker
“I’m Not Bitter” music video
Four exclusive podcasts
Vesuvius Public Service Announcements
The commentaries especially are fun to listen to, as both offer a unique perspective on the production of the film and include plenty of fun and entertaining stories. The deleted scenes are pretty useless and the majority of the featurettes are uninteresting, although the one with Pete Best is actually quite entertaining and humorous. The rest of the extras are pretty much just a load of promotional fluff.
Overall this is a solid Blu-ray release and is Recommended for fans of the film or of Rainn Wilson, if only because of the number of extras. Those who are not into him (or the rest of the cast) may find it worth a Rental at the very least.
The Rocker is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.