Tool of rock

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In The Rocker, Rainn Wilson plays Robert "Fish" Fishman, the crazy former drummer of Vesuvius, an '80s hair-metal band that made it big after Fish got the boot. Twenty years later, Fish gets the opportunity to rock again when his teenage nephew Matt (Josh Gad) recruits him to join his garage band A.D.D.

The concept may seem more than a little borrowed from School of Rock - awkward comedian becomes an indie-music sensation when he joins a band with kids - but the film's comedy isn't quite as high concept. The Rocker is the kind of movie that should have starred Will Ferrell, and not just because Wilson spends a good deal of the movie in just his underwear (or less).

Screenwriters Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky have done most of the heavy lifting, with a number of witty little lines and clever touches. A raunchy comment about John Lennon's apparent sexual excitement at Fish's drumming is almost as good as the members of Vesuvius (a brilliant trio of Will Arnett, Bradley Cooper and Fred Armisen) inexplicably turning British.

The Rocker certainly isn't going to win any bonus points for creativity. The standard potential love interest (an understated Christina Applegate) exists solely because someone thinks it should. The film could have benefited highly from an Apatow-like quick polish to make it a little leaner, cleaner and funnier, but as is, the simple, lightweight Rocker is good enough to be one of the strongest comedies of the summer.