Warner Bros. // 2001 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 24th, 2002
The story of a wannabe who got to be.
Who among us hasn't fanaticized of living the rock star lifestyle? We've all heard the torrid tales about Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, and Poison. The bands' on-the-road lifestyles defined what it was to be a rock and roll star in the 1980s: sex, drugs, booze and all the celebrity status you can handle. While most of us wouldn't want to know what it's like to sleep with two women, a man, a four ton hammerhead shark and sixteen buttplugs, others think it might just be the most exciting experience on God's green earth. Ah yes, such is the life of a heavy metal band member. Based on a real-life incident that happened with the metal band Judas Priest, Rock Star is the story of an '80s tribute band singer who gets his shot at the big time with the band he looks up to. Starring Mark Wahlberg (Three Kings, The Perfect Storm) and Jennifer Aniston (TV's Friends, Office Space), Rock Star screeches and wails its way onto DVD care of Warner Home Entertainment.
Chris Cole (Wahlberg) wants to be just like his idol Bobby Beers. Beers is the lead singer in one of the most popular heavy metal bands of the '80s, Steel Dragon. Chris fronts a tribute band in Pittsburgh bent on playing Steel Dragon's songs down to the precise note. Chris has an unending love for the band (and talented vocal chords), though possibly takes his singing gig too seriously; when one members wants to play a few chords differently, Chris flips out. Chris' life consists of fixing photocopiers during the day and jamming with his small town band at night -- that is, until the real Steel Dragon comes calling! It seems that their front man Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng) is leaving the group, and the remaining members are looking for a new lead voice. After seeing a video tape of Chris' performance, the Steel Dragon members decree that Chris should be their new singer! Soon Chris (now known as "Izzy") and his girlfriend/manager Emily (Aniston) are thrust into the burning white glow of the spotlight. With his one true dream realized, can Chris and Emily survive the beast that is fame and fortune?
I'm going to go on record right off that bat and say that I didn't have high hopes for Rock Star when I sat down to watch it. Lambasted by many critics and a complete failure at the box office, I didn't think this could possibly be an enjoyable film. Ah-ha! I was wrong! Not only was Rock Star an enjoyable movie, it was well acted and funny! I was, to say the least, surprised.
My roommate gave me words of wisdom before I sat down to watch Rock Star: "It's just a fun movie. If you take it too seriously, you won't like it." She was absolutely right. Rock Star is just a fun, fluffy movie that needs to be viewed on its own merits. It doesn't include an earth shattering story or amazing performances (though everyone performs well above par). Rock Star is just a goofy look back at the decadence and glamour that was the 1980s. Steel Dragon could have easily been any number of big hair/make-up bands: Poison, Warrant, Bon Jovi -- you name 'em, Steel Dragon's modeled after 'em. The movie gets the tone and ambiance of the '80s right -- big egos, big hair, and big bulges in their you-know-where. Mark Wahlberg looks the part of a wannabe metal singer, right down to the skin tight leather pants and patented frizzy hairdo. While Jennifer Aniston plays her part well, it's still hard to separate her from the 1990s and her Friends alter ego. The supporting cast works equally well, the standout being Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) as the rock god Bobby Beers, a hard talking lead singer with a hysterical secret.
Rock Star features a lot of concert/on-stage performances with catchy tunes (like the now defunct "power ballad"), and the direction by Stephen Herek is apt if sometimes a tad heavy handed. Herek is no stranger to rock and roll movies -- after all, this is the same guy who brought us the flighty Bill and Ted in the jammin' party on hit Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure. Special mention also goes to Trevor Rabin's music score which invokes the 1980s wonderfully.
While I really enjoyed Rock Star, it does have some trouble spots. The movie loses a bit of steam by the halfway mark, becoming something of a life lesson shared with the audience. By the end, not surprisingly, the leads will have learned a valuable lesson about celebrity, friendship and love...and that's a little too schmaltzy in a movie about sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.
However, just because Rock Star floundered at the box office doesn't mean that you should pass on this little piece of faux history. It's got some big laughs, a few touching scenes, and your typical rock star orgy. ROCK ON, DUDE!
Rock Star is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner has done a very admirable job on this transfer, making sure that all aspects of the image are even and well rendered. Concert scenes display a nice amount of depth and crispness while more subdued night scenes include deep, dark black levels. A small amount of edge enhancement was spotted during one minor scene, though it wasn't intrusive to the viewing. Overall, this is an excellent transfer by Warner.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in both English and French. I was very impressed with how full and bombastic this 5.1 soundtrack sounds. Many of the concert scenes thunder across the speakers. The surround feature was utilized in multiple instances, and all aspects of the dialogue, effects, and rock 'n roll are clear of any hiss or distortion. A thrilling, fun, and entertaining soundtrack all the way, man! Also included on this disc are subtitles in English and French.
Rock Star jams out with a few decent (if slight) extra features. Starting off this disc is a commentary by director Stephen Herek. Herek is knowledgeable about the production, though there are many instances where he either A.) discusses what's happening on-screen, or B.) lapses into gaps of silence. When he is talking, Herek has a lot to say about the actors, the sets and about how the movie came to be (much of the film was based on a rock documentary that Herek can't recall the title to). This track should please fans searching for some background on the film.
Next up is a featurette titled "Backstage Pass: The Making of Rock Star." For those looking for some real insight into the making of Rock Star, this short featurette won't appease. This is typical promotional fluff, featuring very quick interviews with actors Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, director Stephen Herek, and a few other principle cast and crew members. This supplement is much too brief and ultimately pointless.
Finally, there are some highlights on the cast and crew from the film, as well as a music video by the band Everclear titled "Rock Star," and an anamorphic theatrical trailer for the film.
I heartily recommend Rock Star to anyone who lived through the '80s or still owns an LP by Hanoi Rocks. It's not a perfect movie, but it is enjoyable entertainment at its finest. Warner has done a nice job on both the transfer and the audio portions of this disc.
Run with the Devil and pick this up as a rental! Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2002 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailer
* Commentary by Director Stephen Herek
* Backstage Pass: The Making of Rock Star
* Cast and Crew Highlights
* Everclear Music Video: "Rock Star"
* Official Site