Rock Star (2001) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: R for language, sexuality and some drug content
Running Time: 105 min.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Dominic West, Timothy Olyphant, Timothy Spall
Director: Stephen Herek
Screenplay: John Stockwell
Review published September 5, 2001
Chalk this up as another in Vince's seemingly never-ending list of guilty pleasures. I suppose it should be said that a great deal of why I give Rock Star as good a review as I do comes from some very low expectations. Second tier stars and a director that hasn't made anything great (unless you consider The Mighty Ducks and Holy Man as film excellence) plugged into a film about glam-metal fan-boys turned rock stars didn't seem to present viable entertainment possibilities...except to laugh at it. However, laughing WITH it turned out to be more of the case, as Rock Star, like the band Marky Mark (Planet of the Apes, The Perfect Storm) is in, is not an in-depth look at heavy metal of the 80s, but rather it is a loving tribute made by fans for fans of the music and styles of the hard rock of yesteryear. While I'm admittedly not a fan of the music, I do enjoy a fun movie, and Rock Star is certainly that.
Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Coles, a copier repairman by day and lead singer for a heavy metal rock group at night. Not just any group, but a "tribute band" for the most popular metal group in the nation, Steel Dragon. When the real lead singer for Steel Dragon leaves the group, the hunt is on for a suitable replacement, and Chris knows all his moves. Now he has been catapulted to instant fame and fortune, but soon discovers that being a rock star requires some sacrifices in life and love.
The leads are actually quite good in their respective roles, and the cast of supporting players are solid all around. Stephen Herek directs with just the right touches at the right times, and the music is very true to the styles of the 80s glam groups for which Rock Star draws inspiration. The lion's share of the credit goes to screenwriter John Stockwell (Blue Crush), whose attention to detail and knowing insights make for a film that has fun with the subject matter without making a mockery of it. OK, so it isn't as good as Almost Famous given the similar subject matter, but Rock Star delivers entertainment with heart, especially for those who grew up in the 80s.
©2001 Vince Leo