Rock Star
Warner Bros. // R // September 14, 2001
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 1, 2001
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The Movie:

Even more generic than its title (if possible), "Rock Star" revolves around the real-life tale behind metal band Judas Priest, who replaced lead singer Rob Halford and brought up a relative unknown to take his place. In "Rock Star", Mark Whalberg ("Planet of the Apes") plays Chris Cole, an aspiring rock star who fixes copy machines by day and leads a Steel Dragon tribute (not cover!) band at night. He's such an enormous fan of the band that when his fellow bandmates aren't perfectly nailing the band's music, he throws a temper tantrum. Starting a particularly nasty fight during a live performance gets him tossed out of the band, who want to write their own music.

I suppose I can understand the character's being a hard-core fan of the music, but the scene at the live performance simply made him unlikable. Anyone who's been to a live rock show knows the fun of going is to see the band try things and maybe take the music further than it was on the recording. Anyways, Chris is tossed out along with manager and girlfriend Emily (Jennifer Aniston).

Soon after, Chris gets a call from Steel Dragon themselves, who fly him (he takes Emily along) out and promptly hire him. The only thing that he needs to do is change his name to Izzy for PR purposes. Thus begins a a spiral upwards into fame and downwards into partying to hard and having Emily fly off to Seattle. Where the film seemed like it was going someplace interesting and showing us a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be on-tour, the film starts to show these moments as part of a montage instead. The focus tends to fall back on the romance between Whalberg and Aniston's characters, which is unfortunate because the two do not have a particularly strong chemistry with one another, even though both at least attempt to bring some energy to one-dimensional characters.

Most oddly, although the film starts off entertaining, it becomes less and less fun and more repetitive as it goes along. Obviously, the film will be compared to Cameron Crowe's far better "Almost Famous" and, in fact, that picture had far more life and energy to it. I was also kind of suprised that the movie got an R, when it seemed to paint a rather bland, PG-13-ish picture of the scene.

Overall, "Rock Star" passed through quickly enough and had a few moments, but it certainly could have offered a more interesting behind-the-scenes look at metal music and big-stadium tours than it does.

Final Thoughts: Wait for a DVD rental. Judging by how fine most Warner Brothers DVD presentations have been lately, I'm sure Ulei Stiger's glossy cinemtography and Tim Chau's strong sound design will translate nicely to home theater.

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