Stephen Herek’s Rock Star is a Cliffs Notes journey through rock n’ roll fame worthy of Cameron Crowe: quaint, huggable and edgeless. A post-Boogie Nights Dirk Diggler has finally found his place on the ’80s music scene. Disco is out and mascara and Heavy Metal are now in. Chris Coles (Mark Wahlberg, all puppy dog stare) is the lead singer for the fictional band Blood Pollution, a cover/tribute band for Steel Dragon. The story is loosely based on Judas Priest’s post-Rob Halford shenanigans. Chris gets ousted from Pollution, ousts raving-queen Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng) from Steel Dragon and becomes the band’s new lead singer. From there, it’s all downhill for the singer-for-hire metal gods. Chris, now known as Izzy, comes face to face with the ready-to-rock, revolving door of Dragon-wannabes. The message is clear: it’s not about the music anymore. Rock Star offers fortune-cookie life lessons. Chris worshipped his Dragon posters and now finds himself stripped of all creative input, held captive by his ex-idols. Chris informs his manager (Timothy Spall in a hornier rendition of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Lester Bangs from Almost Famous) that he needs to take a “piss”—in reality, Chris is off to Seattle in order to cater to his inner Grunge. Rock Star is a glossy representation of the Heavy Metal age tailor-made for the nostalgia-wanker. To their credit, the filmmakers recognize Steel Dragon’s place in the musical timeline. The film’s closing credits say more about music as a kind of ever-changing cultural chameleon than the actual film itself. Though there’s little here to suggest that Chris has been hiding his inner Counting Crow, the film shoddily transitions from the death of Metal to the birth of Grunge and expects the audience to buy into it. Rock Star lacks balls. Indeed, the film’s ending might as well have been shot inside the Central Perk “Friends” set.
- Stephen Herek
- John Stockwell
- Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Flemyng, Timothy Olyphant, Timothy Spall, Jamie Williams, Dominic West, Deborah Leydig
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