NPR logo Rainn Wilson and the Strange Case of the Encouraging Flop

Movies

Rainn Wilson and the Strange Case of the Encouraging Flop

Rainn Wilson: Sadly, a bigger hit as a bobblehead than in The Rocker. NBC Universal hide caption

toggle caption
NBC Universal

Fans of Rainn Wilson's outstanding work on NBC's The Office did not turn out in droves this weekend to see his first effort as the lead in a big movie: The Rocker made a painfully small $2.8 million in its opening weekend. And as a big fan of his work, I was relieved.

The natural instinct is to hope for success for creative people you admire, and to do otherwise feels less than generous. But ... I've seen this movie. It is not good. It is not what he should be doing. It is a waste of his considerable talent. It's all overcranked and hyper, and it doesn't take advantage of any of his skill at modulating his performance; it's like playing a well-tuned piano with a rubber mallet.

It's happened a few times this summer, that strange feeling of being happy to hear that things did not do well. The Love Guru flopped? Good. Meet Dave? Good. Less of that. Fewer movies headlined by guys making funny faces and talking in silly voices? Good.

Somebody will figure out the right thing to do with the delightful and engaging Rainn Wilson — check out how charming he was