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View Date: Sept 22, 2001

Cast:

Mark Wahlberg Chris Cole
Jennifer Aniston Emily Poule
Dominic West Kirk Cuddy 
Timothy Spall Mats 
Timothy Olyphant Rob
Dagmara Dominczyk Tania
Jason Flemyng Bobby Beers

Directed by:
Stephen Herek  

Written by
John Stockwell
 

Official Site:
Rock Star

Related Viewings:
Almost Famous (2000)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
That Thing You Do! (1996)
Still Crazy (1998)



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Rock Star


Rock Star attempts to play upon a fantasy that exists in most of us lay people, who go about our everyday lives.  At some point, even for a brief moment, we dream of what it would be like to be famous; to get the chance to be in the spotlight, have more money than we’d know what to do with and be the center of attention and the life of the party.  For most, this dream lays in the back of our minds, manifesting itself occasionally during the high moments of the public spectacles of stardom.

There are many differing aspects to the American dream, and Rock Star explores the one most prevalent in the 80’s, mostly in males, aged 15-25.   The prevailing attitude of that decade was one of capitalism, greed and excess, how much can I have, how fast can I get it, and how high can I fly.  Nothing typified this Icarus style dream more than that of the decadent image of rock and roll and its messengers, the bands and members who populated this fantasy.  They became the idols of a generation, with their big hair, tight clothes, groupies, big house and carefree lifestyles.  Who wouldn’t want this life?   Wahlberg’s Chris certainly does.  He fronts a “tribute” (re:cover) band for his favorite band, Steel Dragon, which he worships and knows way too much about for his own good.   One day he receives the call of his life, to audition as lead singer for the band who has seen a tape of his band and wants him to replace their burned out lead singer.  What follows is a fairly predictable meteoric style ride through the world of fame, fortune and the visualization of the term sex drugs and rock and roll, through the eyes of an innocent who wanted to see the other side.  He brings his girlfriend along for the ride, to further contrast their previous and current lifestyles, and explores fairly successfully the aspect of if power, money and popularity can corrupt and change a person.  The script is frosted with some powerful, realistic, yet playfully honest dialogue befitting the era and mood which its portraying.  I lived through that era, even having those dreams, and Herek and company have surprisingly captured it fairly well.  Even when the film ventures and follows some expected and typical story paths, the dialogue, and of course the music, make it an enjoyable ride, with a nice soundtrack to life’s events and explorations.

The film is also strengthened by some strong performances, from some unexpected sources.  Wahlberg is Wahlberg, as he usually is, he slips right into his every man roles, with a comfortable ease.  Whether it’s a conflicted porn star, or sailor, soldier or fanatically post teen music fan, he plays each role quite well, without actually seemingly like he’s acting.  He doesn’t do it with quite the blending into the background way that Edward Norton does, but he’s still quite good, and getting better.  The best supporting roles come from Timothy Spall, as the road manager with a heart (and a sex drive) and Jason Flemyng, in a brief role, as Dragon’s lead singer with issues.  Both performances are subdued, yet honest, powerful, fitting and never over done.  Perfect representations of the era, the dream and the lifestyle, which aid in conveying the films message, without clouding or bogging it down completely in predictability.  Only Aniston, seeming like Rachel in “The One where she’s a groupie” is out of place as his girlfriend.  Her scenes, while a necessary aspect of the story, seem to drag things down a bit, because her pouty look does not fit the morphing contrast that the lifestyle can initiate.  Without this cast though, the film would have been little more than a Behind the Music episode with a hairband soundtrack.  And what a soundtrack this movie has.  Granted, I am a sucker for all things 80s, especially music, but this one truly captures the spirit and attitude of the decade, and not just from a hairband aspect.  From typical genre denizens like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Motley Crue to the interesting, but fitting additions of INXS and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the sound of Rock Star is truly the icing, on a deliciously guilty pleasure of a film

Ultimately, Rock Star is the representation of a decade, and the dreamers who inhabited it.  While it can’t help but fall into some typical plot manipulations and devices, such as the love story, and the expected success, fall and revelation, the sharp script and relevant storylines carry the film above the otherwise maudlin and intellectually lacking summer faire.  At least the film is honest about its roots, and represents its genre, by embodying everything that this music and mood was about.  Its simple, its loud, its full of energy, not a lot of thought, but full of attitude.  It also poses and answers the question of is it better to fail as yourself, or succeed as someone else.  In trying to find ones identity through embracing someone elses, we sometimes find what we are truly made of, and what we truly want out of life.  By losing ourself in our dream of perfection, we can find our own.  See this one for all the dreamers, successes and failures, because while Rock Star’s melody may not be one for everyone, but those who hear its message, will relate, understand and enjoy. ($$$ out of $$$$$)

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