ROCK STAR / (2001) *** (out of four)
By Blake French:
"Rock Star" is the story of a nobody who becomes propelled into fame, only to realize living his dream is not the way he imagined it. We have seen all this before (in better movies), but this human story does capture the world of rock and roll with a brutally honest and insightful edge. It garners a recommendation because of its visualization of the atmosphere. The script, by "Crazy/Beautiful" director John Stockwell, portrays the hard-core universe with memorable images-it doesn't explain what it is about, it shows us.
"Rock Star," originally titled "Metal God," stars Mark Wahlberg as Chris "Izzy" Cole, a Pittsburgh office supplies salesperson who dreams of becoming Bobby Beers, the fiery lead singer for the heavy metal rock group, Steel Dragon. Although Chris already sings for his own tribute rock group called Blood Pollution, instead of writing his own songs, he insists on performing only those by Steel Dragon, and only in the exact way they perform them. His group becomes irritated with Chris' obsessions and gives him the boot.
This devastates Chris, as well as his supportive parents and faithful girlfriend, Emily (Jennifer Aniston from TV's "Friends"). He then receives a phone call. It's the Steel Dragon band. They have seen Chris' tapes and want him to replace the recently fired lead singer. In an instant, Chris rockets into the dizzying world of sudden stardom-from the biggest rock fan to the biggest rock star. Unfortunately, it's not as rewarding as he expected.
A true story inspired the "Rock Star" concept. An Ohio supply salesman, Tim "Ripper" Owens, really did replace Rob Halford, the lead singer in Judas Priest, after initially singing for a tribute band. The rest of the film is probably fiction, although most of what happens must represent the experiences of many other bands. The film details the various ordeals of being a rock star. It explores the aspects of touring, personality differences, the danger of drug abuse and violence, struggling relationships, sexual freedom, dishonesty, and the extreme measures of the producers all to please the fans and keep popularity high.
I have seen all of Mark Wahlberg's movies, and this is the first that has earned my affection. Wahlberg, a former singer/model, has made movies like "Fear," "Boogie Nights" "Three Kings," and most recently Tim Burton's lacking remake "Planet of the Apes." I am starting to admire the young actor more and more. Although he has not performed in many successful films, he has taken many chances, and done a variety of roles. "Rock Star" is his best film to date. I can't think of many actors who could have convincingly portrayed Chris Cole's struggles and aspirations. Wahlberg truly makes "Rock Star" rock.
Jennifer Aniston lights up the screen as well. She creates a chemistry-rich relationship with Chris that induces audience participation. It's tragic of what happens to their relationship. We care about these characters a great deal.
During the film concert scenes, director Stephen Herek (who also directed "Holy Man" and the live action version of "101 Dalmatians") creates a gripping atmosphere. He captures the scenes with an intense urgency, and a raw, unmistakable energy. The musical numbers provide the film with the best, most involving scenes.
Unfortunately Herek cannot sustain the energy and zest throughout. At the three-quarters mark, he looses the spark as the movie becomes dull and unpleasant. I understand where the story needs to go in order to portray the negative side of fame, but this movie loses everything it previously had going for it. In "Almost Famous," a much better film about rock and roll, there is a certain amount of interest and life in even the most sorrowful scenes. Here, it feels as if the filmmakers lose their passion.
The message comes a bit too late and suddenly in the story. The film turns into a morality tale that wants to provide us with a sappy destination. The filmmakers might as well stop everything, appear on screen and say: "now audience, the moral of the story is " We understand the theme, but it's too instantaneous. The personal discovery for Chris' must be gradual.
Fortunately, all of this happens in the last twenty-five minutes of the film, hardly enough to completely destroy an entire eighty-five minutes of a reasonably good feature. "Rock Star" is not a great movie-see "Almost Famous" if you want a remarkable film about rock and roll-but for Marky Mark, it's a turning point in his career.
Action / Comedy / Drama / Music
Action / Comedy / Drama / Music
Chris Cole was born to rock. His longtime girlfriend Emily believes his talent could take him all the way - but Chris worships at the altar of Bobby Beers, the fiery frontman for heavy metal legends Steel Dragon. By day, Chris still lives at home with his parents and spends his days repairing copy machines. But when Chris takes the stage, fronting Pennsylvania's premiere Steel Dragon tribute band, all of that disappears. Chris Cole is Bobby Beers - mesmerizing audiences with his perfect imitation of Beers' electrifying vocals. The night his bandmates boot him out of the group, Chris is devastated - until an unexpected phone call changes his life forever: He, Chris Cole, has been tapped to replace Bobby Beers as the lead singer of Steel Dragon. In an instant, Chris rockets to the dizzying heights of sudden stardom, rising from devotee to icon, from rock fan to rock god - the wanna-be who got to be. So what happens when an average guy gets everything he wants - and discovers it's not ...
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