10 Best Rock Movies
Not to be confused with best movies starring The Rock — we’re talking about rock music. Usually these lists include films like ‘Blues Brothers’ and ‘Walk the Line’, both good flicks, both have very little to do with rock music or the rock and roll lifestyle. It is with that in mind we decided to make a list with real rock movies only, here’s our top ten.
‘Detroit Rock City’
I struggled deciding between this film, ‘The Rocker’, ‘Get Him to the Greek’, and ‘Singles’. ‘Detroit Rock City’ won out because it’s shows the often overlooked aspect of what it’s like to be a superfan of a single band. The group of kids in this particular film are all die-hard members of the KISS army, trying to get to their concert in Detroit. This is more of a coming-of-age comedy than anything, but all set against the backdrop of a road trip to see the characters’ favorite band. Anyone that’s ever really loved a band can identify with what these clowns go through to see their idols on stage. The first of many on this list to both take place in the 1970’s and have a great era-appropriate soundtrack. There aren’t many rock star cameos in ‘Detroit Rock City’, unless I missed someone — there are none aside from KISS themselves.
Nothing more rock and roll than a crappy local band taking the radio station hostage in order to force their music on the air (don’t get any ideas). The “power slop” trio, The Lone Rangers, are the focal point for this comedy with a soft spot for music. The movie serves as a testament to bands that never get a shot because of the politics of the music industry, while not coming off too preachy. Rocker cameos include a performance by White Zombie and Lemmy Kilmister shows up towards the end as well. Did I mention it’s funny too?
‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’
One of the funniest movies of the past decade in my opinion (I say that because I know about 50% of those who saw it hated it). I laughed pretty much throughout this entire ridiculous movie that lampoons every single rock and roll biopic ever made. Some real life rockers cameo in this one including Jack White as (a hilarious) Elvis Presley and Eddie Vedder as himself. One of the funniest aspects is the deliberate miscasting of famed musicians like Frankie Muniz as Buddy Holly and Jack Black and Paul Rudd as Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
‘Dazed and Confused’
Dazed and Confused may share a title with a Led Zeppelin song, but has nothing to do with the band. In fact the song of the same name doesn’t even appear in the movie, but a lot of other killer 70’s rock tunes do. ‘Dazed…’ may not feature any live music, it’s really more about the rock and roll lifestyle — partying and listening to good music with friends. This one is a cult classic for sure, but as far as 70’s high school party movies go — I always felt there was one a little better…
‘The Stoned Age’
Whenever anyone in my high school talked about how awesome ‘Dazed and Confused’ was, I would naturally ask them if they had seen ‘The Stoned Age’. Usually this was met with blank stares. Though lesser known than it’s 70’s party movie counterpart, this film is funner, funnier, and a little more focused. Instead of following 15 different people, it’s centered on Joe and Hubbs — two high school burnouts trying to get drunk, high, and laid. Both highly quotable and hilarious, ‘The Stoned Age’ features a kick ass soundtrack with songs from Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult (who the main character frequently talks about). Initially the film was about two die-hard Zeppelin fans but the filmmakers couldn’t get the rights to use any of their music. Instead they went with B.O.C. — who not only offered up their music, but appeared in the film as well.
‘Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny’
Though Tenacious D’s musical style may not be very heavy, they are all about the metal. This becomes very clear after watching the film which has a young J.B. praying to a poster of Ronnie James Dio and features a duel with Satan himself (voiced by Dave Grohl). Hell, even Meatloaf had a cameo as Black’s dad. If you had seen the comedy duo’s HBO series, a lot of this movie was a re-tread of that same material — but still funny. From power slides to Sasquatch — this movie throws everything but the kitchen sink at you, but it’s an overall fun ride that bows before the majesty of rock. I initially had Jack Black’s ‘School of Rock’ on the list but decided that was for kids and this one kicks way more ass.
Who would’ve thought Marky Mark would ever star in a kick ass movie about being rock star? This story is loosely based on that of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, who went from singing for a Judas Priest cover band to replacing Rob Halford. The film features some ass-kicking 80’s style metal and several real life rockers including Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy, Jason Bohnam, and Brian Vander Ark of The Verve Pipe. Zakk Wylde even appeared as the gun-toting, beer chugging lead guitarist of the fictional band Steel Dragon. A challenging role for the BLS frontman for sure.
‘The Doors’ is probably the most rock and roll movie ever made stylistically, director Oliver Stone even made Death (better known as the random naked Native American guy) a character in his tripped out film. Val Kilmer actually sang on most of the live performances in the film, and did a damn good job too. This was back when Kilmer was awesome and did movies like ‘Tombstone’, now he’s stuck playing guys like Cunth in ‘Magruber’. You can’t make a good rock movie without real rock musicians though — the real Doors were on the set for technical advice and Billy Idol plays a member of Jim’s entourage.
This is actually one of my all time favorite movies in any category. The story reflects that of writer/driector Cameron Crowe’s real life. He graduated at a young age and went on tour with The Allman Brothers for three weeks as his first assignment for Rolling Stone. The movie replaces the Allmans with the fictional Stillwater, and focuses on the main character’s (based on Crowe) infatuation with one of the band’s groupies. Crowe called in some favors for the soundtrack and had friends like Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Ann Wilson of Heart, and Peter Frampton craft the music for Stillwater. The non-Stillwater soundtrack was great as well featuring bands like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Neil Young.
‘This is Spinal Tap’
This is the ultimate rock movie hands down. The film made fun of how seriously bands took themselves and caused so many catch phrases within the very genre it mocked. From turning things up to 11 to yelling ‘Hello Cleveland’ — Spinal Tap started it all. Poking fun at the stage show grandiosity of Pink Floyd to the violin bow-soloing of Zeppelins Jimmy Page, this movie plays like an 82 minute inside joke/love-letter to the rock community.