Dumbed- down “The Rocker” and “House Bunny” suffer similar fate
Two new comedies, “The Rocker” and “House Bunny,” target the same teen-to-young adult audience, share similar plot themes and fail for similar reasons.
Both retread familiar material and lack creative humor, and rely on ill-equipped stars who, despite their best efforts, can’t rescue the very ordinary scripts they are given.
In the case of “The Rocker,” the star is popular TV actor Rainn Wilson (“The Office”), who has had small bits in other movies (“Juno”) but gets his lead shot here. Watching him portray the washed-out drummer of 80s rock band “Vesuvius” provides ample appreciation for the gifts of Jack Black and Will Ferrell.
“School of Rock” is an obvious influence, but Wilson has neither the acting chops nor musician’s soul to be believable. When he wanders into Will Ferrell territory (an obligatory tighty whitey paunch gross-out), it feels like merely a ripoff-not in any way uniquely inspired.
Accentuating the limitations of the supposed star is the fact that the supporting cast offers some of the film’s bright spots. Wilson’s character gets a shot at redemption when he’s accepted into a young emo-rock band “A.D.D.” Along for the ride are a dreamy lead singer/songwriter (Teddy Geiger), a tomboy cute bass player (Emma Stone), and keyboardist nephew (Josh Gad) all of whom feel comfortable in their roles-and with songs that are quite hummable. A romantic subplot featuring the aging spectacularly Christina Applegate feels awkward despite her gallant effort. Again, if life in Hollywood were fair, Jack Black would have gotten an Oscar nod for “School” and a film like “The Rocker” would never have been attempted without him.
Rating: PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity and language.