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Film / Rock Star

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Rock Star is a 2001 comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Herek and starring Mark Wahlberg as Chris "Izzy" Cole, the lead singer of a tribute band who becomes lead singer of the real band he idolizes. This movie explores the rabid popularity and backstage excesses of the Hair Metal bands that dominated 1980s music.

This film contains examples of:

  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: The party that occurs after Chris' first performance with Steel Dragon.
  • The Alleged Car : The band is shown pushing the car to get it started, although Emily's little orange number apparently gets her all the way to Seattle.
  • Alliterative Name: Chris Cole, Bobby Beers, and (sound-wise) Kirk Cuddy.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Steel Dragon's original singer. Also, according to Word of God (on the commentary), Bradley, the rival singer who replaces Chris in Blood Pollution.
  • Artistic License Music: It's very unlikely that Bobby Beers would be able to hear Chris singing along to "Stand Up and Shout" over the band's PA system and front stage monitors.
  • Ascended Fanboy: The plot: Chris was the lead singer of a tribute band for his favorite band before he becomes lead singer of the real band.
  • Based on a True Story: The story is based on Tim "Ripper" Owens, who was in a Judas Priest tribute band before joining Judas Priest itself. To hammer the point home, the working title of the film (seen on the clapper on outtakes on the DVD) was Metal God. "Metal God" is the nickname of Rob Halford, the man Owens replaced.
  • Basement-Dweller: Although he doesn't live in the basement, pre-fame Chris Cole is a grown man who still lives with his parents (a fact that his police officer brother loves pointing out), and his bedroom walls are covered in Steel Dragon posters.
  • Binge Montage: Happens while Steel Dragon is on tour and living the rock and roll lifestyle.
  • Bookends: Chris impresses the lead singer by singing along at a concert; a fan later does the same thing to him.
  • Blatant Lies: The singer of Black Babylon, the other tribute band, claims that his father Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy and got him the actual jacket Bobby wore on tour. Chris and Emily call him out on it for being entirely the wrong color.
  • British Rockstar: Most of the other members of Steel Dragon, although Ghode (the other guitarist, played by Zakk Wylde) is American, as evidenced by his New Jersey accent.
  • The Cameo: Part of the fun of the movie is its cast of rock stars, including an appearance from Myles Kennedy when he was just some guy in a band.
  • Camp Gay: Bobby Beers behaves like a total diva when he is fired from Steel Dragon. In the closing credits, we see that he has abandoned rock music and become a Michael Flatley-like professional dancer.
  • Control Freak: Chris' insistence that Blood Pollution play the songs exactly the same way Steel Dragon does, as well as refusing to let his bandmates play original songs, eventually results in him being kicked out of the band.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mats, the road manager for Steel Dragon. He becomes somewhat of a mentor to Chris, giving him advice on how to adapt to the lifestyle of a famous rock star. Word of God on the DVD says he was envisioned as a "demented Obi Wan Kenobi."
  • Creative Closing Credits: Along with some Hilarious Outtakes, it's revealed Bobby Beers joined a Scottish dance troupe, and while Marky Mark's "Good Vibrations" plays, Chris breakdances and says "No more of this metal shit, hip-hop is where it is!".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Emily is one of these. So is Bobby.
    Chris: Wait, you're gay?
    Bobby: No, I bought a house in Morocco and pierced both my nipples because I'm John Fucking Wayne.
  • The '80s : According to Word of God on the commentary, they all had trouble with the incredibly tight pants.
    • Also crosses into The '90s by the end, with the Seattle grunge scene.
  • '80s Hair : Many of the cast are wearing wigs and extensions.
  • End of an Age: The hair-metal/glam rock era of the 80's.
  • Fake Band: Steel Dragon. It includes three real musicians (ex-Dokken and current Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson, Black Label Society founder and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde, and ex-Foreigner and Black Country Communion drummer Jason Bonham), while both Steelheart frontman Miljenko Matijevic and Brian Vander Ark of The Verve Pipe dubbed in for Chris. Jeff Scott Soto sung for Bobby Beers.
  • Gag Penis: Played for laughs. When Tania borrows Chris's pants the morning after a party, she proudly notes that they're a bit tight in the crotch.
  • Gender-Blender Name : Kim, Bobby's lover.
  • Gold Digger: The wives of the Steel Dragon members. It's even implied that they tolerate their husbands having sex with groupies in exchange for expensive gifts and a lavish lifestyle.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: Chris attempts to do this in his first gig with Steel Dragon; he ends up tumbling down them and getting a nasty head wound. He finishes the show anyway.
  • Groupie Brigade: And how!
  • Grunge: At the end of the film Chris becomes disillusioned with the rock star lifestyle, so he quits Steel Dragon, moves to Seattle, and starts making grunge music.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Chris and Emily have been a couple since they were in their teens. Chris wrote Emily a song for her fifteenth birthday.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf : Bradley, whose voice is better than most people's, is a little off key and off time, and Chris makes snide remarks about it. Downplayed when Emily sings a bit of a song Chris wrote for her. Jennifer Aniston has a believable singing voice for a normal person. The singer who auditions before Chris is also terrible.
  • I Am the Band: Kirk Cuddy feels this way.
    • Bobby Beers outright says it.
  • Important Haircut: Chris gets one at the end, going from metal length to Cobain length.
  • In Vino Veritas: One scene features Chris and Mats having drinks at the Rainbow Bar & Grill (a well-known rock star hangout in Hollywood). During their conversation, Mats tells the story about how he was once married, but left his wife because married life did not promise as much excitement as touring with rock bands. His wife later got remarried to a doctor and had children with him. The melancholic tone of Mats' voice implies that he's uncertain if he made the right choice or not.
  • Insistent Terminology: Blood Pollution is a tribute band, not a cover band (at least according to Chris).
    • Justified, as there is a difference. A cover band plays songs by many groups, while a tribute band only plays the songs of one group or singer. He is a little too caught up in it, though.
  • Intercourse with You: The Steel Dragon song "Stand Up And Shout".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While he was acting unprofessionally by showing off and goofing around during Chris' last gig with Blood Pollution, Rob does make a good point when Chris confronts the band and their new singer, calmly telling Chris that he's "mental" for wanting to stick to Steel Dragon covers and dismissing the original stuff he's written.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: While part of Blood Pollution, Chris is disdainful toward Rob's original compositions, because they're supposed to be a Steel Dragon tribute band and nothing else. But as he grows comfortable as Izzy of Steel Dragon and writes some songs for the band's new album, he finds himself condescended upon by Kirk Cuddy, who flatly tells him that writing songs (and creating album art) is not part of his job description.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Bobby Beers is fired from Steel Dragon, it plays out very similarly to Chris being kicked out of Blood Pollution earlier in the film.
    • Likewise at the end when Chris sees Thor mimicking him in the same way he (Chris) mimicked Bobby in the beginning of the film.
  • Metal Head: The members of Steel Dragon, their fans, and their groupies.
  • Metal Scream: Stand up and SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUT!
    • Also Chris' extended "HALLELUJAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH" during choir practice, and Thor's "God of THUNDER!"
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Chris is scoffed at when he recommends this.
  • Mirror Match : The parking lot fight between Blood Pollution and Black Babylon, identically-dressed Steel Dragon tribute bands.
  • Modesty Bedsheet : After the party, Emily doesn't bother getting dressed, just wraps a sheet around her for her "walk of shame" back to the hotel room.
  • Mr. Fanservice: As the manager explains, this is why the band is popular.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Nina and Samantha, the two Steel Dragon fangirls/groupies. Their only roles in the film seem to be looking sexy and saying everything in unison (although they were ultimately responsible for Chris joining Steel Dragon by showing a Blood Pollution video tape to Kirk Cuddy). Girl on Girl Is Hot is also implied, as they're holding hands in one or two shots.
    • Jennifer Aniston wears some pretty revealing outfits, too, including a crocheted dress over a thong bodysuit and a see-through t-shirt.
    • Subverted with Tania.
  • New Sound Album: Chris wants to do one of these, but is overruled. Ironically, the last thing he's seen recording sounds more early00s Nu Metal than the NWOBHM style they've rocked so far in the film.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: No bands were harmed; although their story is based on Judas Priest, Steel Dragon could easily be a stand-in for Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, Guns N' Roses, Twisted Sister, Poison, Winger, Slaughter, Warrant, etc.
    • And, of course, Chris Cole is loosely based on Tim "Ripper" Owens, who sang in a Judas Priest tribute band and later became Judas Priest's main vocalist after Rob Halford temporarily quit the band.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Played straight. The singer and lead guitar are the only members written in any detail.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname : Kirk, due to some name confusion between his second and third wives, refers to all women as "totty."
  • Open-Minded Parent : Chris' parents, rather than hating on rock music the way movie parents often do, support him and adore the band.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Chris has one. Covered in (you guessed it) Steel Dragon posters.
  • Power Ballad: "We All Die Young". "Colorful," from the ending.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: "Is that mascara?" "I'm in a band."
  • The Rock Star: Chris becomes one.
  • Running Gag: Don't call Blood Pollution a cover band.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: A lot of each, but subverted in Bobby's speech to Chris.
    You got the sex wrong, didn't you? And drugs, I never touch 'em. No one does a gig like I do half-cut, not even at your age!
  • Shout-Out : Several, to rock and roll films, but noted on the commentary is a documentary called Heavy Metal Parking Lot.
    • In one scene, Chris drives a motorcycle down the hallway of the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin did the same thing in the same hotel in the 1970s.
  • The Show Must Go On: In the very beginning of the first song in his first concert with Steel Dragon, Chris Cole slips and falls down the stairs. Despite a nasty head wound and possible concussion, Chris rallies and finishes the song and the concert.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Chris and his brother, Joe, fight constantly. Joe thinks Chris is a pathetic Basement-Dweller, while Chris thinks Joe is a pig cop. Their relationship seems to improve after Chris joins Steel Dragon.
  • Shown Their Work: In-universe, Chris knows everything about Steel Dragon. "The stitching should be green... and has anyone ever seen Bobby wear a jacket with red lapels?"
    • Crosses over a bit into Stalker with a Crush territory, as Chris knows what Kirk Cuddy nicknamed his wives and was going to send flowers when Cuddy's dog died.
  • Stage Names: Izzy.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: An in-universe example. The other members of Blood Pollution are playing to have a good time, but Chris is so obsessive about perfectly imitating Steel Dragon that it causes his bandmates to resent him, and ultimately results in him being kicked out of the band.
  • Tantrum Throwing : While Bobby and Chris both throw tantrums, A.C. throws a TV out a hotel window after his girlfriend dumps him.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Tania turns out to have a penis when Chris sees her in the bathroom the morning after a wild party, casually having a piss while standing up. Considering he likely had sex with her while drunk and high, he's a bit discomfited but moves past it fast.