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In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.

Rock Star (2001)

Rock Star's premise was inspired by Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, who left the band in 1992 and was replaced by a singer from a Judas Priest cover band. This take on the fawning-to-fame story begins with die-hard metal fan Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg), singer for a tribute band (not cover band, he claims vehemently) for his beloved metal band Steel Dragon. Jennifer Aniston plays Emily, the band's manager and Chris' devoted girlfriend. All seems to be going well until Rob (Timothy Olyphant) kicks Chris out because everyone else wants to start playing original songs. Not long afterwards, Steel Dragon's Kirk Cuddy (Dominic West, sporting a stellar hair metal wig) calls with the opportunity of a lifetime. Chris is rebranded as "Izzy" and he and Emily dive right into the rock & roll lifestyle. Wahlberg certainly looks the part, spending most of the film clad in leather pants and jacket (no shirt!), with long unkempt hair and several applications of mascara. Despite his previous music career, Wahlberg doesn't do his own singing but the metal veterans that make up the backing bands provide an authentically raunchy sound. The cast, especially Timothy Spall as band wrangler Mats, do their best with a script that leaves much to be desired. Thankfully, Aniston gets most of the best lines and delivers them with charming sarcasm. But when will we get to Seattle? After a year or so of cocaine and orgies, Emily decides she's going to come here to start a business (we're not told what), and she and Chris amicably make plans to meet when the tour comes her way. But when Steel Dragon arrives Emily finds Chris so out of it that he doesn't even realize he's in Seattle (maybe because the scene was actually shot in L.A.) and she dumps him on the spot. Several months and introspective conversations later, Chris decides to quit to find his voice and hands the mic off mid-concert to a protg in the crowd (the rest of the band seems to have no problem with this whatsoever). Our first glimpse of Seattle is around Eastlake on a typical gray day. He walks to Emily's coffee shop (smart move, Em!). The caf itself is in L.A. but to be fair, the scene does have a Seattle feel by having him standing in the rain while gazing at her through the window. The best view of town comes when Chris reunites with Rob in Victor Steinbrueck Park by Pike Place Market. Emily quickly crosses the bricks at 1st and Pike when she spies a poster for Chris' show, then ends up at the club (yet another L.A. location) where they tearfully embrace. Maybe it was a scheduling problem, but to not take advantage our wealth of excellent coffee shops and music venues seems like a completely wasted opportunity. Director Stephen Herek must have seen something he liked here; he soon returned to Seattle to shoot Life or Something Like It.
--Jen Koogler

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