Rock Star

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/01/2002

Three out of five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Neither funny enough for a comedy nor dramatic enough for a drama, this is still very watchable, owing to a pair of strong performances from its two leads, but it isn’t the great film it could have been.

Rock Star, originally titled "Metal God", is a fictionalised-so-as-to-avoid-a-lawsuit version of the true story of Tim "Ripper" Owens, who became the lead singer of Judas Priest after the band invited him to replace their lead singer after spotting him in a tribute band. (The band is apparently considering legal action).

In the movie, Mark Wahlberg stars as Chris Cole, photocopier repairman by day, intensely committed lead singer of a heavy metal group tribute band (modelling themselves after the fictional ‘Steel Dragons’) by night.

However, just as his own band starts to splinter (owing to them wanting to branch out and do their own material), Chris receives the offer of a lifetime, to replace Steel Dragons’ lead singer (Jason Flemyng, camping it up to eleven).

The band promptly renames him ‘Izzy’ Cole, and, with his sweetly supportive girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) in tow, he embarks on his new life as a ‘Metal God’. But is it everything he dreamed it would be?

The main problem with Rock Star is that it desperately wants to be both This Is Spinal Tap and a serious drama about artistic integrity and the corruption of fame.

This inevitably leads to an extremely uneven script – for example, the shadow of Spinal Tap renders the meant-to-be-touching moment where Chris re-unites with his former best friend rather laughable.

Similarly, from the moment Chris meets his idols (Flemyng tearing off his wig in a hissy-fit is an amusingly inspired metaphor), his ‘dream’ is never presented as an attractive option, so we spend the entire movie hoping that fame doesn’t mess him up too badly and waiting for him to come to his senses.

That’s not to say that there isn’t quite a bit to enjoy here. Both Wahlberg and Aniston give strong performances, which Aniston in particular giving a sufficiently non-Rachel performance that suggests she has a good post-Friends career ahead of her. There’s also good support from Jason Flemyng ("It’s because I’m gay, isn’t it!")and Timothy Spall as the roadie.

There are also several good moments, particularly the early scenes, with Cole stealing his mother’s make-up, arguing with his brother and obsessing over the exact pitch of his "metal scream", but also the (obligatory) orgy scene, which is followed up with a nicely under-stated moment between Aniston and Wahlberg that acknowledges what has just happened while silently agreeing not to talk about it.

To sum up then, this is very watchable stuff, with strong performances all round. Worth watching. Be warned though - if you went through a ‘metal phase’ at school, it may induce some squirm-inducing flashbacks…

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Rock Star
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Content updated: 19/11/2019 18:18

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