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Rock Star

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Rock Star

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston
Director: Stephen Herek
Rated: R
RunTime: 107 Minutes
Release Date: September 2001
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Music

*Also starring: Jason Flemyng, Jason Bonham, Nick Catanese, Blas Elias, Jeff Pilson, Brian Vander Ark, Zakk Wylde, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Bonham

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
2 stars out of 4

This first is about Mark Wahlberg, a punk kid convicting of assaulting a man and costing him an eye. Instead of becoming a career criminal, Wahlberg redeems himself, going on to fame and fortune as the leader of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. When the group's sales begin to fade, he finds a new line of work and even more attention as an underwear model for Calvin Klein. Like so many other pop singers and models, Wahlberg then decides to pursue a career in acting and, against all odds, he becomes a full-fledged movie star. From street thug to matinee idol what are the odds?

The second fairy tale is about Tim "Ripper" Owens, an office supply salesman from Ohio. In his spare time, Tim sang his heart out as lead vocalist in a Judas Priest tribute band, hitting the stage nightly to cover songs by his all-time favorite group. One day, he gets a phone call from his heroes. Rob Halford, frontman for Judas Priest, has left the group and the rest of the band, having watched a video of Owens performing, want him to take Halford's place. From office supply salesman to rock star who would ever have thought?

"Rock Star" brings the two real-life fairy tales together, with Wahlberg playing a character loosely based on Owens. The movie is nothing special; once Chris Coles' (Wahlberg) fantasy turns real and he is invited to join the British heavy metal band, Steel Dragon, the story falls into a pattern that is oh-so-familiar to anyone who has watched VH1's "Behind the Music."

Still, the early part of the film is a hoot and Wahlberg is delightful. In fact, for the first time in his acting career, he carries the movie, passionately defending his beloved band to others, nearly coming to blows with a singer in another band over the authenticity of a jacket, and unsuccessfully trying to contain his puppy dog grin during his first photo session with Steel Dragon.

Alas, Jennifer Aniston does not fare so well. As Emily, Chris' girlfriend and manager, she is supposed to be more level-headed than her beau, but at times she comes off overly parental, more like a kindly schoolmarm than a lover or business person. Aniston has an undeniable talent, but it is not tapped in this film.

"Rock Star" might have seemed brighter had it not been released in the long shadow of "Almost Famous," which covers many of the same themes with far more skill. As is, the film is a minor pleasure, with a strong first half, a tepid second half and a hell of a performance from Mark Wahlberg.

Copyright 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott

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