ninth symphony films - movie reviews

ROCK STAR (2001)

DIRECTOR  -  stephen herek

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  105 minutes

RELEASED  -  7 september 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  rock star

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $38,000,000
rock star - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from rock star at

buy the dvd from rock star at

a lead singer of a tribute band becomes lead singer of the real band he idolizes.

when mark wahlberg's character is performing with the band steel dragon, the voice of michael matijevic of the band steelheart was used.


picture from rock star

picture from rock star

picture from rock star


two out of four possible stars

Fans of eighties hair bands will rejoice with the release of Rock Star, a tribute to the weird world of cosmetic-wearing yet strangely testosterone enhanced music stars whose eyeliner and lipstick apparently got them hundreds of female admirers. Mark Wahlberg plays the "wannabe who got to be," as the tagline suggests. His performance, like the others in the film, is an entertaining one, as he is an enigmatic presence on stage and lip-syncs the hell out of a very good soundtrack. For fans of that type of music, anyway.

But once you get Mark off stage, the movie becomes somewhat laughable in parts, and very predictable for most of its running time. Scratch that. This movie is predictable from start to finish. There are no surprises in the film and it is truly up to the actors to provide some interest for viewers over the course of its two-hour running time. Thankfully, all of the characters in the film are likeable folks, so becoming interested in their story only requires a minimum of effort. But because one sometimes has to work at keeping the fidgeting down to a minimum, this film is more apt to become an enjoyment only for those viewers who are real fans of eighties rock stars.

And for those fans, the film isn't a serious commentary on the eighties, but rather like a light comedy that just happens to have some great musical performances in it. One of the fundamental elements that is missing from the film is a decent amount of emotional content from the characters. The story, however entertaining the soundtrack, is quite weak in the interactions between the characters off-stage. There isn't enough conflict in the film and it seems as though the filmmakers were just biding their time with the dialogue and story until they could get the audience to another musical break. It's not that characters aren't sincere, it's just that they don't have enough energy to match what's put out on the stage.

In particular one exchange between Jennifer Aniston, who plays Mark's girlfriend, "Emily," has what should be an extremely hard scene for them both, but which never really reaches an intense enough level. It occurs about two-thirds of the way into the film, after Mark's character of "Chris Cole" has been on the road touring with his favorite band, Steel Dragon. Emily and Chris have this deep talk together and although Aniston makes her character suitably teary eyed, the exchange doesn't have enough emotion in it. And that mirrors much of the rest of the film.

And if the filmmakers weren't aiming for high drama in their film, the comedic elements should have been brought up a notch. It could have been something resembling other eighties parody, The Wedding Singer, which enough laughs in it to keep the audience interested. But, ironically, that movie seems to have had more drama in it than Rock Star. And the supporting cast of the film performs on the same muted level as the two lead characters. Although Jason Flemyng, Timothy Olyphant, Timothy Spall, and Dominic West all provide an interesting sight with their massive wigs and tights, they don't exude enough charisma.

On stage, they look right at home, but the non-singing verbal exchanges between the cast just doesn't have enough chemistry. But the other elements of the film, namely the music and the art direction and costumes, are impressive. Granted, it has been little more than a decade since the end of the 1980's, but the look and feel of the picture seemed authentic. And the music, created specially for this picture, is definitely the high point of the experience. Mark Walhberg, having been a musical performer in the past, can really light up the stage when he's on it, and from the effort put into his performance, you'd never know he was lip syncing.

In looking at all of these elements together, the acting, the story, and the music, it seems that the filmmakers can only hope that their film will be considered an achievement in lip syncing and hair styling. As a film, it has a small amount of comedy in it where the audience is supposed to laugh, but it also includes a lot of unintended laughs as well. Some of the picture borders on the "cheesy" and could even be considered "corny," given the serious devotion of the actors to portray their hair band idols combined with a lack of believable drama. Though the film is not based on a true story, it most resembles a VH-1 behind the music special, and doesn't seem suited to the big screen.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs warner bros. pictures 2001
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