“Rock Star” is a by-the-chords drama that takes no risks or is exemplary in any way. It’s also a lot of fun. Starring Mark Wahlberg cover singer turned stadium maestro Chris “Izzy” Cole, the film relies on our nostalgia for 80s, aerosol-equipped rockers, where the charged tunes weren’t that great but the glam vibe was insatiable. Like those mascara-wearing rockers of yesteryear, “Rock Star” isn’t wise, but it is smart enough to how to put on a good show.
Izzy is an underappreciated Xerox repairman by day and a frontman for one of the most popular Steel Dragon cover bands in the county by night. He’s a master of mimickery, tailored to fit the same leather jackets and comb his luscious locks with the same number of strokes of his Dragon idols soaring overhead. But when the real Steel Dragon has a falling out with their diva frontman, Izzy is pulled off the tribute band benches and thrown into the wailing riffed-front ring.
It’s the perfect kind of role for Wahlberg, one that requires little acting and more overreacting. Jennifer Aniston shines as his girlfriend/manager Emily, supportive of the rock star crusade until her ears and eyes can’t handle the amped up beer and debauchery anymore. The best performance comes from Timothy Spall, who plays the Mats, the head roadie on the Steel Dragon tour. Mats is like a yellow-teethed, chain-smoking Obi Wan Kenobi to Izzy, filling him with wise platitudes about the harrows of stardom, drugs and relationships.
It’s a simple story, driven primarily by Izzy’s insecurities about his own artistic abilities, and the strain of stardom on a long-tenured relationship. But “Rock Star” capitalizes on giving us a semi-realistic portrayal of what being a Rock Star would actually feel like. In the end, Izzy eventually opts out of stardom in favor of small coffeehouse gigs, a cliche sum-all of a larger-than-life tale. It almost feels disappointing, but if we look at hackneyed lyrics of every heavy metal song since ’82, it’s clear there’s no better or more authentic way “Rock Star” could have taken its bow.