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MUSIC FLICKS:  The Rocker (photo)

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I meant to see The Rocker when it hit the big screen last year, but a couple weeks after its release, I couldn’t find a theater (in freakin’ New York City) that was playing it. Um, that’s not a good sign.

Because I’m still waiting for The Wrestler-equivalent of a music movie (sometimes you have to sit through your No Holds Barred and Ready To Rumbles to finally get that gem), I try to catch every music movie I can. So, this weekend I decided to make it a microwave-pop-corn, buy-a-movie-On-Demand Saturday night.

The main feature–The Rocker.

When the film came out, I know many had doubts about The Office’s, Rainn Wilson, being able to carry an entire film on his own. Could the man that plays Dwight Schrute–one of TV’s favorite supporting characters–be leading man material?

Unfortunately, we never find out. Mere minutes into The Rocker, Wilson–in classic Terminator-style–chases down a speeding van of ex-bandmates and proceeds to stab the vehicle’s roof with his drum sticks, before being tossed off into the street. This is just the first of many physical comedy bits forced on us by the film.

For the remainder of the movie Wilson falls, trips, bumps his head, makes wacky facial gestures, and–surprise–even gets hit with the gratuitous groin shot. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

In the few scenes that Wilson is allowed to act, he actually comes off quite sincere, especially in his scenes with Christina Applegate, who plays the mother of the lead singer in his band (we’ll get to that in a second). But all too often, Wilson’s character plays it way over-the-top. In a half-hour Nickelodeon show it would work, in an hour-and-a-half movie, it doesn’t.

In The Rocker, Wilson’s character, Robert Fishman, gets kicked out of the 80’s hair rock band, Vesuvius, right before they sign their first record deal and become international rock superheroes.

Twenty years later, Fishman bounces around from job to job, and flips out anytime he hears the word Vesuvius. After getting fired from another job–because he tackled a co-worker for making him listen to (take a guess) Vesuvius’ new album–Fishman moves in with his sister’s family.

The week before his nephew’s band, A.D.D., is supposed to play a gig at the prom, the drummer bails, and the band is left with no other option than to ask Fishman to step behind the kit for them.

In full 80’s attire, Fishman takes the stage and ruins what seems like a good gig after playing a big-rock drum solo in the middle of a ballad. The band later forgives him and asks him to be their full-time drummer. When Fishman is kicked out of his sister’s house for attempting to take A.D.D. to a gig, the band is forced to practice via web cam, where Fishman plays drums naked. His niece then takes the video clip, posts it on YouTube, and presto A.D.D. gets a major label record deal through the popularity of “The Naked Drummer.”

I’m sure you can guess what happens from here: A.D.D. go out on tour, get their name on marquees, ride around in a tour bus, deal with a sleazy manager, make a music video, and land a supporting gig for guess who?

Ironically, for a film about a rocker trying to escape his hair-rock past, the movie feels like it was made in the middle of the 1980’s. Besides the YouTube clip, the notion of a young band getting a tour bus, a blurb on MTV News, and shooting a music video on a soundstage, all while being controlled by a cliché-ridden manager seems 10-20 years past its prime. If The Rocker was legit, A.D.D. would be riding in a van and selling their own merch.

I could forgive all of The Rocker’s transgressions if, at least, the music scenes were believable. They weren’t. I can’t tell you how much it irks me in movies when someone sounds like their singing through a million-dollar microphone when they’re playing live. Most bands, especially ones that only have a prom gig under their belt, don’t sound studio-crisp while performing live. I also didn’t buy the chemistry of the band–floppy haired-frontman (played by singer/songwriter, Teddy Geiger), good-looking outcast chick (Emma Stone), chubby/awkward optimist (Josh Gad), and of course, ex-drummer from 80’s hair-rock band. It felt just a little more authentic than a band on the Disney roster.

(Spoiler alert)

The logistics of the final scene also frustrated the music lover in me. After Vesuvius is caught lip-synching (speaking of plots from the 80’s) they walk off the stage in shame. The packed arena then screams for the return of A.D.D. who take the stage moments later, unexplainably, playing on their own equipment. Not even the Rolling Stones stage crew could work this kind of magic. (C’mon, just have the band play on Vesuvius’ set-up and call it a night).

Another indicator that The Rocker–more in the league of Airheads than Spinal Tap–wasn’t going to be The Wrestler of music movies was when Rainn Wilson’s character would longingly stare at Cleveland’s Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. (He did this several times throughout the film.) Any rocker worth his weight in Zildijan cymbals wouldn’t dare dream about getting their plaque in a museum until they’ve seen a million faces–and rocked them all.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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