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Man Gets Second Chance at Musical Success in 'The Rocker'


What teenager has not dreamed of becoming a rock star? But how many adults get the chance to re-visit and actually live out that dream? That's what happens to a former drummer nicknamed 'Fish' in a sprightly new comedy film from the director of the 1997 hit, "The Full Monty." Alan Silverman has this look at The Rocker.

It was the 1980s, and 'Fish' was drummer for the up-and-coming heavy metal band, Vesuvius. But just as the band was about to break out, he got fired (the record company's boss wanted his nephew to get the gig). Vesuvius erupted into worldwide fame. Robert Fishman - 'Fish' - left his rock star dreams behind, swore never to pick up a set of drumsticks again and took an office job. Flash forward 20 years. His teenaged nephew has a band booked for the high school prom; but their drummer has been suspended from school and cannot play. Desperate, the teen turns to 'uncle Rob:'

Rainn Wilson, who co-stars in the American version of the popular TV series The Office, plays 'Fish.'

"There is a certain point in everyone's life when you need to let something go from the past so that you can live your life in the present," Wilson says. "'Fish' gets to experience that on a big scale. We all have things we wish would have happened. We look back (and think) if only that would have happened my life would be different now ...and there comes a certain point when you realize 'this is my life and I'm living it and here I am today so now what?'"

In one rehearsal session with the band members - in different locations but linked through the Internet - 'Fish' is naked. The explanation: it is really hot in his flat and, unaware that what he thinks is just a microphone is really a camera, he ...gets comfortable. The video gets out on the Internet and suddenly their band, featuring 'the naked drummer,' becomes a phenomenon.

"I always enjoy taking my clothes off to comedic effect," jokes Wilson. "I have been making women laugh with my naked body for the last 20 years and hopefully, audiences will find it just as amusing."

Not-so-coincidentally, the first hit film for director Peter Cattaneo featured a chorus line of out-of-work Englishmen stripped down to The Full Monty. However, Cattaneo says the real connection is the relationship of the characters to music.

"One of the big appeals to me to make The Rocker is the musical element. I just love opportunities to play with music and images," Cattaneo says. "The music part of the movie-making process is great for me and it just seems to be part of the roots of movies from The Wizard of Oz and Singing in the Rain. You get music and you get moving images and it is magic happening."

The Rocker co-stars Josh Gad as 'Fish's' teenaged nephew. His band-mates are Emma Stone and pop singer Teddy Geiger with Christina Applegate as his mom who, it turns out, also once had rock star dreams.

"We love these kinds of stories," Applegate says. "All of us wish that someone would give us all a second chance somewhere in our life. There is some thing that we are regretting, each and every one of us, so I think that movies about this human spirit and getting a second chance are things that people often relate to, and I think really get to enjoy.

The members of 'Fish's' former band 'Vesuvius' include Wil Arnett and Fred Armisen, veterans of the TV sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.

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