USA 2001
director : Stephen Herek
script : John Stockwell
producers include : George Clooney
cinematography : Ueli Steiger
editing : Trudy Ship
music : Trevor Rabin
lead actors : Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Dominic West, Timothy Spall
106 minutes

Rock Star isn’t the year’s worst picture – it’s just the most unneccessary. Why was it made, and who for? The target audience is revealed by the fact that it was originally known as ‘Metal God,’ but at some point post-production the studio got cold feet, changed the title and cooked up a deceitful ad campaign with Mark Wahlberg looking like a Kurt Cobain-ish alt-rocker. This vain attempt to con people into the cinemas reaped its just rewards – the movie bombed in the US, and looks set for a similar fate in the rest of the world.

Even heavy metal fans will find Rock Star redundant – they’ll all have seen This Is Spinal Tap at least half a dozen times. Rock Star makes some lame attempts to lampoon the garishly OTT, self-parodying world of heavy metal, but the half-hearted results are an is an even less convincing ‘rock’ odyssey Almost Famous, the tone veering between larky comedy and po-faced drama.

Our hero is Chris Cole (Wahlberg) mildly knuckleheaded metal fan and lead singer of ‘Blood Pollution,’ ‘tribute band’ to legendary rockers ‘Steel Dragon.’ When ‘musical differences’ see Steel Dragon’s singer exit the group, they audition for replacements – and Cole gets the job, only to discover that being a ‘Metal God’ isn’t all beer and skittles.

Wahlberg has been down this route before – but while Boogie Nights looks more of a masterpiece with each passing year, Rock Star will never be anything more than an intermittent hoot. There’s a droll parking-lot confrontation between two SD tribute bands early on, and amusing cameos from Timothy Spall and Dagmara Dominiczyk, a vamp who looks like she’s just stalked off a Robert Palmer video-shoot. But nothing matches the end-credits footage in which Wahlberg is bemused to hear his former-self Marky Mark rapping out of the PA. Yes, the out-takes really are funnier than the movie itself.

18th October, 2001
(seen Oct-4-01, UGC Parrs Wood, Manchester)

by Neil Young
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