Essentially covering the same playlist as Jack Black’s School of Rock, The Rocker is a good-natured, live-the-dream lark in which the one-liners score hits but the slapstick continually misses.
Providing Rainn Wilson with his first gig as a leading man after amusing bit parts in My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Juno and small-screen successes Six Feet Under and The Office (US), it also gives a foot-up to rising stars Emma Stone (last seen in The House Bunny) and Josh Gad of recent casino caper 21 and short-lived Frasier knock-off Back To You.
Wilson is Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman, the pumped-up drummer who was unceremoniously dumped from perms’n’poses rock group Vesuvius back in 1986.
Two decades on, Vesuvius are the biggest act on the planet and Fish is floundering in a faceless call centre. And when a spat over their new album costs him his job, he’s forced to move into his sister’s attic.
But when his nerdy nephew Matt (Gad) and his band A.D.D. lose their drummer on the eve of a big prom-night gig, Fish picks up his sticks and steps in... only to rocks the joint a little too hard.
Persevering with him, Matt, songwriter Curtis (the pale and uninteresting Teddy Geiger) and unsmiling bassist Amelia (Stone) must then endure the spectacle of Fish in his birthday suit while the band rehearses by webcam.
Inevitably, ‘The Naked Drummer’ becomes a hit on YouTube and A.D.D. soon find themselves with a recording contract, a new manager (the splendidly crass Jason Sudeikis), and the shot at a national tour.
Once they hit the road, however, Fish’s appetite for destruction means that he’s soon living on a prayer. Will he even make it to the final countdown?
Screenwriters Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky certainly bring the smarts of The Larry Sanders Show and The Simpsons to the dialogue.
“I’m Curtis’s mom” says Christina Applegate to the oily Sudeikis. “I’d love to spend nine months inside you” he leers.
But the lame physical stuff and non-rocking romantic subplots are like so many duff tracks on an otherwise enjoyable album.
So while The Full Monty director Cattaneo is now officially the go-to guy for squeezing laughs out of naked men, he should know that people banging heads doesn’t always make for head-banging comedy.