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Wahlberg's SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK STAR (used to be called METAL GOD) Test Screening

Hey folks, Harry here.... Our fine as can be, super-scooper... Evelyn Mulwrey... has left that slitnosed private dick to start scooping for us... and her second report is on the Mark Wahlberg film SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK STAR.... Now I have a little story concerning this film.... Back when it was being filmed on the Warner Lot... and was called METAL GOD (way cooler title btw), I was bopping around trying to find the A.I. pre-production office when I ran into Jennifer Aniston in a robe leaving the big airplane hanger soundstage they were using. I had met Jennifer once while she was filming OFFICE SPACE locally, and somehow she remembered me. She was dressed (if you could say that) in a light cloth robe, so I asked her what she was shooting that day, and it turned out she and Wahlberg were filming some sort of LOVE scene.... So... When you see the love scene in SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK STAR... realize that Jennifer was probably pre-occupied with my immense sexual magnetism (or Moriarty's drool problems, or Harry Lime's stuttering difficulties). Remember when reading this.... The movie won't be out till early next year, this was the first screening, and they will inevitably be doing quite a bit of work between now and when this is released!

Hey Harry,

Just got back from the first test screening of the Mark Wahlberg film formerly known as Metal God in Glendale. They are now referring to it as "So You Want to Be a Rock Star" which I think is a big mistake. I guess they are trying to cash in on a How Wants to Be a Millionaire-style title. But "Metal God" really fits the film so much better.

What we have here, is not necessarily what I expected, which was a more Spinal Tap style comedy. But the film has more heart and drama then that. The comedy is here in funny observations on metal in the 1980s but it's not really the dominant aspect of the story. What this is, is the story of a young man, Chris (Mark Wahlberg), and the only thing he loves more then the band Steel Dragon, his girlfriend Emily played by Jennifer Aniston.

It starts off with Chris as a 20 something still living with his parents in Pittsburg while putting together a "tribute" band to Steel Dragon, a Scorpion-like metal band. Don't call them a cover band because it's a tribute band, they only play Steel Dragon songs and Chris insists on every song sounding exactly like the real thing. He says the music is "perfect" so why would you want to change anything. But his lead guitarist (Timothy Olyphant) wants to do originals. So they kick him out of his own band. The only one who stands with him is his faithful and loving (but not stupid) girlfriend Emily.

About this time Steel Dragon itself has a parallel story where the band kicks out the lead singer. In their search for a replacement they find a tape of Chris, who sings exactly like, if not better then the real thing. They call him in for an audition and he gets the gig. When he goes to meet them the first time there is an excellent scene where Chris finds out some awful truths about his idol. But he's just happy to have the music played right, the way it was intended.

From here we get a well known trip through fame, but I think it's a fairly fresh perspective. Instead of allowing himself to be thrown into the mix (and there's lots of "mixing") it slowly takes him over. One of the most refreshing elements here is that he never abandons Emily, but brings her along for the ride (to the cheers of many of the males in attendance).

This was one of the things I liked best about the film. Though Emily and Chris are naive and excited by everything going on around them, they make conscious decisions to do the things they do. When the inevitable parting happens it is about choices and divergent paths not anger.

Emily never resorts to yelling incoherently at him. They have a deeper understanding of eachother then that. They really feel like characters that have known eachother since they were fifteen. This is really brought forward in the amazing chemistry between Jennifer Aniston and Mark Wahlberg, who both turn in excellent performances. Her best one to date, and one of his strongest.

The films climax and all the way up to the ending are really solid. I loved where they put them at the end of the story!

Other things I liked: Timothy Spall (who some of you may remember as the Mikado in Topsy Turvy) as the band's manager. He and Wahlberg have some good scenes together. The parents are also funny. Instead of making them your stereotypical disapproving parents, they are really supportive and are seen rocking out to metal in many scenes.

The biggest problem with the film at this point is the length. It ran about 2 hours 15 minutes, which is way more then the material warrants. Many scenes run on too long and the film stalls, not moving anywhere for 15 or 20 minute chunks. There are so many full length performances of the same songs over and over, it gets a bit tiresome. But I was told they're not putting this out until February, so I'm sure they'll slice and dice it a bit before it hits the cineplex. Seconds can be dropped everywhere to bring it to a solid 1 hour 50 minutes.

So that's all I've got off the top of my head. A good film (especially if you have fond memories of the days of Scorpions, Rat and Motley Crue). Also, does anyone know if Mark Wahlberg did his own singing? Cause if he did, WOW! And that was some acting in Boogie Nights!

Evelyn Mulwrey

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