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PCR #439 (Vol. 9, No. 34) This edition is for the week of August 18--24, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Rocker"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"The Rocker"  by Mike Smith
Let's Stroll Historic Roser Park! The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region, Part 10 by William Moriaty
DVD Review: "Frogs"  by ED Tucker
DVD Grindhouse: "War of the Planets" (1977)  by Andy Lalino
Pop Culture Potpourri by Lisa Ciurro
Welcome To The Trop .... Gene Upshaw .... Citrus Park Loss .... A "little" Problem .... .... .... ....  by Chris Munger
I Hate Being Sick .... 11 Delegates Behind??? Wtf .... So Long Gene .... Cancer Test  by Matt Drinnenberg
Movie Notes .... Hypocrisy 101 .... Wrong Place, Wrong Time .... 4 Banana, 3 Banana, 2 Banana One! .... Passing On .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1980 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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20th Century Fox     
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate and Teddy Geiger
Directed by: Peter Cattaneo
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 42 mins

I don’t know what it is about bands. I was part of one in 1979 and we pretty much followed the typical blueprint: You get a bunch of friends together that have some type of musical aptitude, play a few songs and have some fun. You also suddenly appear much better looking to the opposite sex. But as fun as being in a band is, they seem to always end the same way: everyone quits and gets on with their lives.
Sometimes you don’t quit. Sometimes the band quits you. Such is the case with Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson), drummer of the band Vesuvius. In 1986, the band was on the verge of erupting on the heavy metal scene but there was one problem. The owner of the record company interested in the band had a nephew who drums and was looking for a gig. The band dropped Fish, who actually came up with the band’s name, took the new guy and started on their way to rock and roll stardom. Fish went to work.

20 years later Fish is still at his meaningless job. A co-worker begins to play the new Vesuvius CD, sending Fish into a rage that costs him his job. He moves in with his sister (Jane Lynch) and brother-in-law (Jeff Garlin) and their family. He learns that his nephew, Matt (Josh Gad), is part of a band called A.D.D. and they are scheduled to play the high school prom. When their drummer can’t make the gig, Matt begs his uncle to fill in. After much persuasion, Fish sits in and rekindles his love with music. He vows to take the band to the top, no matter the cost. But he soon learns that after 20 years it’s hard to teach the old dog some new tricks.

A comedy in the vein of “School of Rock,” “The Rocker” is a fine first starring vehicle for “The Office” star Wilson. Though not as hyper as Jack Black, Wilson does a good job showing the joy that music brings him. He also shows the pain, often showing up for gigs with his hands taped and braces on his knees. As much as he wants to be 25 again, Fish's body won’t cooperate, which lends itself to some pretty funny scenes. The other members of his band (Gad, Geiger and Emma Stone, who played Jonah Hill’s fantasy gal in “Superbad”) gel together well and Geiger, whose real life musical career has quite a teen following already, has an excellent voice, which lends itself to some pretty good tunes. Applegate’s role is not as clearly defined. As Geiger’s mom, she’s the voice of reason when Fish suggests otherwise. But it’s never clear if she is destined to be Fish’s love interest or just the band mom. Her back story of having once been the lead guitarist of an all-girls punk band seems tacked on just so the producers could show her and Wilson playing the Rock Band video game. The various concert and video appearances are well done, which is not surprising since director Cattaneo also helmed “The Full Monty,” which shares its naked backsides with a soon-to-be classic moment in “The Rocker.” Kudos to Cattaneo for including Howard Hesseman in his cast. You can’t have a movie about rock and roll without Dr. Johnny Fever aboard. And a bonus high five for pulling off a cameo by Pete Best, probably the best known “replaced” drummer in the world.

After several incarnations, my original band followed the formula and broke up. Of our group, only one of them continues to pursue music as a living. Two of them started and run very popular websites while the other two, myself included, turned to the movies. For twenty years I helped promote them. Now I write about them. And Corey, OUR drummer, works behind the camera as one of the better known makeup artists in the business, with his work featured most recently in “Tropic Thunder.” However, the story isn’t over as there are plans to reunite next year to celebrate 30 years since we first got together. Hope I can find a good knee brace!

A funny film with some truly catchy tunes, I give “The Rocker”

This week's movie review of "The Rocker" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.