Rock Star

Once upon a time, metal ruled the earth. Once upon a time, Mark Wahlberg was Marky Marky, leader of the Funky Bunch, which rose to brief prominence in the years between metal and grunge. In Rock Star, Walhberg (Planet of the Apes, The Perfect Storm) loses the low-riding pants in favor of metal as Chris Cole, aspiring rock star (and at times, Dave Mustaine look-alike). The events in Rock Star somewhat mirror (or may be partially based) on Judas Priest, who hired a singer from a cover band as their lead singer. Cole idolizes Steel Dragon, a British metal band, mainly by leading Blood Pollution, a cover (or as he calls it, a tribute) band. When Steel Dragon fires their lead singer, they invite Cole to replace him, which he eagerly does.

The first half of Rock Star plays like Spinal Tap. The second half plays like Behind the Music. Both sections fail to tread new ground, which is why Rock Star never becomes compelling. John Stockwell's (Breast Men, Under Cover) script covers the same ups and downs of a man thrown in beyond over his head in a new situation. Along for the ride is Emily Poule (Jennifer Aniston, Time of Our Lives, Iron Giant), Cole's girlfriend and manager. In the beginning, Stockwell and director Stephen Herek (Holy Man, 101 Dalmatians) skewer metal traditions, mainly to show Cole that the dream he aspires to is partially myth. The people he idolizes are putting on a show for their fans.

Then, the tone shifts, as Cole gets caught up in his newfound fame. He embraces the alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and party life that he believes to be the norm. His relationship with Emily and his control over his life begin to fracture. His life quickly spirals downward and out of control. This would be more interesting if not for the fact that this is the same story told over and over in numerous other movies about the perils of fame. There is no point in the movie that is new or original. One can predict every plot point from the outset of the movie. So since this is the case, why watch the movie in the first place? On the other hand, it does not botch the story badly; it is still fairly enjoyable to watch.

Musically, the songs of Rock Star retain the swagger and attitude of similar songs from the era. Many of the Steel Dragons are actual musicians for bands still around today, so their performances are convincing. On the other hand, Wahlberg does not seem to be at his peak. He can be a commanding actor, but looks like he is only giving half a performance here. The Cole character is also not that interesting. If Cole were alive today, he would be running a Steel Dragon fan page, complete with endless pages devoted to any and all minutiae related to the band.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 46 minutes, Rated R for language, sexuality, and some drug content.

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