Directed by Stephen Herek, starring Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Flemyng, Timothy Olyphant, Timothy Spall and Dominic West.
Loosely based on the true story of Tim 'Ripper' Owens' odyssey from tribute singer to fully-fledged Judas Priest member, 'Rock Star' gives Mark Wahlberg the chance to don the leather and chains and bring us back to the musical age of Whitesnake, Def Leppard et al, and all the tragic fashion faux pas that came with it.
Wahlberg plays Chris 'Izzy' Cole, a photocopier repairman by day, and lead singer with tribute metal band Blood Pollution by night. Cole lives and breathes heavy metal, his mundane existence edified by his obsession and devotion to British metal outfit Steel Dragon, and more specifically its lead singer Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng). While Izzy's wannabe lifestyle stretches to include girlfriend Emily (Aniston), its main raison d'etre is the hours spent in the crotch-cuddling leather trousers, the eyeliner and the poodle hairdo, belting out Steel Dragon classics.
Gradually, Izzy's refusal to dilute the tribute ethos of Blood Pollution and write original material begins to grate on his fellow bandmates, and eventually he's kicked out. Robbed of his one and only passion, Izzy becomes disillusioned with his lot as he reverts to being full-time Chris Cole, just an average nobody. Stardom, however, comes knocking in the most incredible of guises. Izzy is plucked from obscurity by, yes you've guessed it, Steel Dragon as a replacement for the ignominiously departed Beers. Cue bright lights, big cities, groupies, orgies and a whole lot of metal histrionics as Izzy discovers that the hedonistic lifestyle he aspired to for so long comes at a price.
'Rock Star' opens brightly enough as it creates an amusing nostalgia wave by catapulting us back to an era of metal, mullets and mascara. Its depiction of a starry-eyed hoi polloi headbanger is warmly pitched as it evinces the metalhead's unrelenting devotion to his heroes in the context of a dead-end job and ordinary family life. Things begin to unravel however when Cole is thrown into the Steel Dragon spotlight.
The problem arises as director Stephen Herek attempts to satisfy two divergent narrative threads, ending up missing both targets. Herek tries to keep the sweet comedy of the first half of the film on retainer while he charts Cole's inevitable decline into the wanton excess and debauchery of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. In truth, it's all pretty tame stuff, and while we don't expect a 'Requiem For A Dream'-type scenario, it all seems a little too sickly sweet to bear any resonance to the real deal.
'Rock Star' also disappoints in the chemistry between the two leads; Wahlberg is too wooden to bring the best out in any actress, and when that actress happens to be the hopeless hairdo that is Aniston, one can forget the prospect of any real spark. The ultimate draw of this film is in the hilarity of the mid 1980s metal-inspired horror of hair, leather trousers you'd have to be dropped into from a height, mascara, endless rock posturing and yet more hair and leather. Forget the storyline, just laugh (and cringe) at the period.