Making the Grades
Old rockers never die -- but they can become pudgy, unkempt, and irritable. Such is the case for former drummer Robert "Fish" Fishman (Rainn Wilson) who was booted out of an 80s rock band called Vesuvius after a record company executive decided he didn't fit the group's future. The obsessive drummer's violent retaliation, including the superhuman feat of attacking the band's speeding van with his drumsticks, didn't stop the group from going on to become one of the hottest acts on stage.
Twenty years later, Fish is a cubicle worker until the day a co-worker begins playing Vesuvius's latest CD, sending the aging percussionist into yet another fit of rage. Now out of a job and money, he turns to his sister Lisa (Jane Lynch) for a place to live. There he reunites with his teenaged nephew Matt (Josh Gad) and discovers the boy's garage band just happens to be in need of a drummer. Reluctantly the other band members, Amelia (Emma Stone) and Curtis (Teddy Geiger), agree to let the old guy play their one big gig.
While the evening could have gone better, it still has the power to awaken Fish's legendary rock dreams. He is also sincerely impressed with Curtis's original songs, which all dwell on the youth's angst over his father's abandonment of their family a few years earlier. Somehow Fish manages to convince the kids to keep him on a little longer, even though he got them all grounded by stealing Curtis's mom's van in order to transport them to another play date.
Due to their restricted circumstances, the group decides to meet over the Internet to rehearse. However, Fish doesn't understand the concept of "video" conferencing and attends the practice in the buff (we see lots of him from the rear and sides). When the images the camera captures spreads across the worldwide web, the "Naked Drummer" suddenly becomes a hot commodity -- and the gang is soon in the crosshairs of a record producer.
These nude depictions, along with some moderate profanities and crude sexual remarks, are unfortunate because the rest of the film does offer a surprisingly positive story and some good music (especially after Fish tells Curtis it's time to give his songs a more upbeat mood). As well, the teen characters are portrayed as being somewhat responsible (although one was accused of bringing drugs to school and they initially lie to their parents so they can travel with Fish). Their behavior acts as a foil to Fish's childishness, such as ripping up hotel rooms and drinking himself well beyond silly. Yet even the inclusion of consequences may not be enough to counterbalance the unnecessary content and convince parents not to toss this "fish" back in the sea.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Rocker.
What are the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument? When you listen to music, which instruments do you notice? What instrument do you imagine being able to play?
Are drinking and partying a necessary aspect of being a “rock star” or an assumed byproduct of the job? Can you think of music celebrities that don’t fit this stereotype?