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ROCK STAR
Warner Bros.
Official Site
Director: Stephen Harek
Producers: Robert Lawrence, Toby Jaffe
Executive Producer: George Clooney
Written by: John Stockwell
Cast: Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston

Rating: out of 5


ROCK STAR is an exultation of cock rock. Remember cock rock bands from the 1980s? One definition could include guys (I am loath to call them musicians) who play their hair as much as they play their instruments and pack their wads into leather pants while screeching misogynistic lyrics. Chris Cole (Wahlberg) is a nice guy who plays in Blood Pollution, a fictitious cock-rock-metal band whose only purpose in life is to emulate Steel Dragon, another fictitious cock-rock-metal band.

Chris is booted from his band because quite frankly, he’s a pain in the ass. All he wants to do is sing Steel Dragon cover songs note for note and he’s not at all interested in writing or playing his own original songs. He’s such an anal perfectionist about Steel Dragon he trashes his guitar player’s amplifier in the middle of a show because he’s dissatisfied with the performance.

The day after he’s canned, he receives a call from Steel Dragon! They want him to come to L.A. for an audition. Sure, he gets the gig, which is why we’re all part of the theatre-going audience. Meanwhile, his hardworking buddies playing original material are left behind to toil in obscurity. Go figure.

Chris changes his name to Izzy Owens to fit his new rock persona. He gets to do all the things we associate with a rock and roll lifestyle: play stadium-sized venues, drive fast cars, fuck loose women, and guzzle a copious amount of alcohol.

The problem with ROCK STAR is that’s pretty much all he does.

Beyond the routine life of stardom, nothing dramatic happens to Izzy. Moreover, he’s just too darn nice to be believable as a whiskey-slugging, pussy-munching rock star. He’s the kind of guy who tells his parents he loves them. In fact, they come to his concerts and cheer him on. He’s even considerate of his girlfriend’s feelings when she’s separated from the band during tours, relegated to riding in a limo with the other rock sluts. And who cares if Izzy is a nice guy because nothing bad happens to him anyway. He gets to join the rock band of his dreams and party his ass off. The big plot shocker is his realization he’s allowed no creative contribution, Steel Dragon only wants him as a front man. They’re not interested in any songs he writes or any album covers he designs. He can still make billions of dollars and screw groupies… but no creative input. Well, boo-hoo.

So Izzy walks out on Steel Dragon in the middle of a concert. He goes to Seattle, cuts his hair and dons a Kurt Cobain grunge sweater. Fronting his own band and playing folkie-sounding music to a small crowd in a coffee house, he finds salvation and self-respect.

Sure, this is not implausible, but it’s mostly stupid, and it’s made worse by the empty story line that accompanies the movie from frame one. So for those about to rock, stay home instead and watch any given episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music.” It’s guaranteed to have more villainy and misfortune, and will probably rock you harder than anything you’ll see in ROCK STAR.

—Nancy Semin

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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