Reel Toronto: The Rocker
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Reel Toronto: The Rocker

The Rocker is not the best movie, but it’s at least good for a laugh or two. It’s got a great cast—everyone from Rain Wilson to Howard Hesseman!—and a decent high-concept premise. See, Wilson is the drummer in an up-and-coming hair metal band, but they cut him loose and become huge. Many moons later he hooks up with a high school band and they overcome challenges, become famous, and he gets to realize his dream, blah blah blah.
The flick is set in Cleveland, one of the great rock ‘n’ roll cities, but it was mostly filmed right here in…you know the deal.

2009_02_03operahouse.jpgDon’t believe the captions, man.

The Agora, where we meet the soon-to-be-famous Vesuvius, is one of the all-time classic rock clubs, but this ain’t it. Nope, it’s our own Opera House.

2009_02_03commsiioners.jpgCleveland wishes it had our kick-ass street furniture program!

After our hero gets kicked out of his band we flash forward twenty years to find him working at some lame office job. When he gets fired and goes outside, we can see it’s actually on Commissioner’s Street.

2009_02_03kingsnoodle.jpg So, it’s a real Chinese restaurant but with a fake sign? What’s the point?

There’s also a brief visit to this Chinese restaurant, which is actually King’s Noodle, on Spadina.

2009_02_03phaseone.jpgFrom Nelly Furtado to fake bands, Phase One does it all.

As the band starts to get bigger, they do all those things rock bands do. For instance, they go to record their album at Phase One Studios.

2009_02_03bigbopoutside.jpgWe’ve never been to Cleveland, but we know the Queen streetcar doesn’t go quite that far.

And they play gigs. Here, for example, we see the Big Bop outside…


…and inside, Kathedral.

2009_02_03phoenix.jpgIt’s our own Phoenix Concert Theatre, not just any ol’ club.

When they get a bit bigger, they play the Phoenix.

2009_02_03monsoon.jpg Every young rocker digs some pan-Asian delights.

They even have one of those groupie-filled record company parties at Monsoon.

2009_02_03hillcrestmotel.jpgThe Hillcrest has earned its place in rock heaven.

When they hit the road, they stay at the Hillcrest Motel, where we also encountered Blues Traveler in Blues Brothers 2000. Alas, like everything else anywhere near the waterfront, it’s getting replaced by condominiums.
So, there ya go. Cleveland may have the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but when Hollywood comes a-knockin’, they know that the real fake deal is on the other side of the Great Lakes.