So the other day someone updated their status on Facebook and said they were watching Rock Star on TV. This of course got me thinking of this movie again and I just had to re-watch it for the blog. Finally… a piece of work that both metal fans and Marky Mark fans can get behind!
Written by John Stockwell, directed by Stephen Herek, and executive produced by none other than George Clooney, Rock Star tells the story of mythical hard rock band Steel Dragon who is in need of a new lead singer. Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) plays in a Steel Dragon “tribute” band and is about as big a “fan” as you can possibly be. He makes several references to the fact that his band (Blood Pollution) is a “tribute” band rather than a “cover” band. He has such a love for Steel Dragon that he takes his musical “performances” very seriously. Of course, Chris gets the job as the new Steel Dragon front man and takes on the moniker of “Izzy”.
The rest of the movie is quite simply as the tag line says, “The story of a wanna be, who got to be.” We follow Izzy through the ups and downs of the rock industry in the late 80’s completing the holy trilogy of sex, drugs and rock & roll.
Aside from Wahlberg in the main roll there are some pretty interested performances thrown in here. Jennifer Aniston plays the girlfriend Emily in a complete non-Friends roll. She’s a typical metal-head girlfriend from the 80’s: trashy, leather and border line slutty. There’s a scene that is just beautiful where she’s wearing a mesh see through “dress” with a thong beneath it. Also, if you look closely you’ll see the first lesbian kiss for Ms. Jennifer in here.
With the exception of Timothy Olyphant the rest of the cast is relatively unknown… unless of course you’re in the music business. The two bands in the movie (Steel Dragon & their tribute band Blood Pollution) are made up of actual musicians including:
- Jason Bonham – son of John Bonham
- Jeff Pilson – Dokken & Foreigner
- Zakk Wylde – Black Label Society & Ozzy Osbourne
- Myles Kennedy – Alter Bridge
- Miljenko Matijevic – Steelheart
- Nick Cantanese – Black Label Society
- Blas Elias – Slaughter
- Brian Vander Ark – The Verve Pipe
The point is, this isn’t just a movie about musicians… the music sounds good/real because it is.
Of special interest is how the plot of this movie mimics that of metal legends Judas Priest. Essentially the same thing happened to Tim “Ripper” Owens when the band decided to replace legendary front man Rob Halford with Owens. Owens at the time was playing in a “tribute” band as well.
I’m a big metal fan. If you can’t stand metal as a musical genre you’re not going to like this movie. Not because it isn’t a good movie but because the music is so entrenched in the whole plot. There are certainly some bad parts to this, but there’s something about the “normal guy hits it big” story that appeals to the best in us. I have to say that after his hip-hop roots Mark Wahlberg pulls off metal quite nicely. Rock Star isn’t going to win any awards but I’d say as long as you don’t hate metal it’s worth checking out.