It's not surprising that the new indie "Rock Jocks" employs a cast that has a familiar and extensive online presence. In many ways, it feels like an extended web series as opposed to a full fledged feature film. I don't mean this as a huge criticism, it's just that this movie obviously has a tiny budget and seems to have been made on the fly. The entire scenario takes place over the course of about twelve hours and is largely confined to one set. The smartest thing that the movie does is to acknowledge its own inexpensiveness. In a funny bit of introduction to the facility, an antiquated instructional video tells the viewer that the station is populated with state of the art equipment from the 1960s. And it looks every bit that advanced! The facility in question is a top secret Department of Defense project called AMI or the Asteroid Management Initiative. On one overnight shift, the misfits that man the AMI face all the usual workplace issues: boredom, staff conflict, practical jokes, and peer assessments. But tonight, they also face a DOD bureaucrat that threatens to eliminate their jobs as well as the potential end of the world!
The movie begins as the overnight shift approaches. We meet an eclectic crew that includes Andrew Bowen (the burn-out), Felicia Day (the over-achiever), Gerry Bednob (the drunken veteran), Justin Chon (the annoying prankster), and Kevin Wu (the newbie plagued by insecurities). Can the fate of the world really be in their hands? The movie does not have much in the way of plotting, this really just explores the uncomfortable tedium prevalent in many an office job. Instead of sitting in cubicles, however, this team man lasers pointed toward space. Through the course of the shift, each will be called in to speak with the official observing the operation as their fate is soon to be decided. The movie has an easy improvisational feel, a high use of profane language, and a casual offensiveness that should appeal to many viewers. For me, however, the humor was scattershot at best. While I did laugh out loud on several occasions, I think that the movie misses out on several large opportunities. While certainly a passable and fitfully amusing entertainment, "Rock Jocks" may not be poised to be the next cult classic.
One of the things I most worry about when reviewing a picture like "Rock Jocks" is the supporters that will proclaim this little experience to be a masterpiece. It is best to approach such a film with modest expectations, that way you might be pleasantly surprised. If you come into "Rock Jocks" expecting the "funniest movie ever," I don't think it lives up to the hyperbole. On the plus side, "Rock Jocks" has a great cast (Bowen, especially, gives a surprisingly rounded performance), a truly awesome character in Smoking Jesus (that's all I'll say), and an inspired final act. On the flip side, Jason Mewes and Robert Picardo are completely underutilized as the security team. Their low key exchanges might be my favorite thing about the movie, but they certainly don't appear enough. "Rock Jocks" aspires to be a bit of in-your-face offensiveness with its lack of political correctness. And that's okay. But for me, the movie had great potential way beyond that. I think, with another polish on the screenplay, it might have been a cult gem. As is, I liked it well enough but probably wouldn't elect to watch it a second time. KGHarris, 8/13.