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Rock Star Review

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Pittsburgh, the '80s: photocopier repairman by day, tribute band singer by night, Chris Cole leaps from obsessional fan to metal god when he's chosen to replace his idol in his favourite band. But stardom isn't quite what he expected...

★★★★

Inspired by the Cinderella story of office supplies salesman Tim 'Ripper' Owens, who went from a tribute band to replacement for singer Rob Halford in Judas Priest, this is a comedy of dreaming big and living large.

Executive produced by George Clooney, it's made to fit into the oeuvre of feel-good merchant Herek ('The Mighty Ducks', 'Mr. Holland's Opus', '101 Dalmatians') by placing a higher premium on such chick-friendly dramatic elements as self-discovery and true love than on 'Spinal Tap'-ping satire.

Wahlberg - who is much better as a successful wannabe ('Izzy' is Dirk Diggler with a mic) than an astronaut - is a delight when nicking his mother's make-up, enraging his cop brother and euphorically surrendering to depravity. So touching is his naivety, you enjoy him even when his sweetheart - Aniston pleasingly a strong, calm anti-Rachel - is predictably nudged aside by the evil publicist and identikit groupies.

You even root for his disillusionment with orgies, big hair and filling another man-s spandex because - bless! - what really matters to him is love, creative freedom, and, thankfully, a haircut.

The British contingent is fabulous - West as lead guitarist and cynical businessman, Flemyng as the ousted queen, and Spall as road manager, pimp and sage - while real musicians (Brian Vander Ark, Jeff Pilson, Jason Bonham) bring egregious authenticity.

Judas Priest, quelle surprise, have distanced themselves from this fable of ego clashes and excess, but there are teeth-rattling soundtrack contributions written by the likes of Ritchie Blackmore, Sammy Hagar and Ronnie James Dio. The prank outtake of this combo cavorting around a startled Wahlberg to Marky Mark's Good Vibrations during the end credits absolutely takes the cake.

The first half is hilarious but the second gives itself more to cautionary moralising and life lessons.

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