To be honest, I went into Rock of Ages expecting the absolute worst. The commercials make the film look like a joke and although I genuinely enjoyed the Broadway show, I figured a movie version could not deliver the same rockin’ good time. Then, however, the beat of “Paradise City” started playing in the opening credits and I came to the obvious realization that the soundtrack hasn’t changed. And with a musical, the songs basically make up the whole running time. So I thought, “Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.” I wouldn’t say it’s “nothin’ but a good time” because the main characters’ acting is pretty atrocious and with it lasting a little over two hours, the film tends to go “on and on and on and on,” but there is still some fun to be had.
Rock of Ages takes place in 1987 and follows a small town girl named Sherrie (Julianne Hough) who travels from Oklahoma to the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles where she meets a city boy named Drew (newcomer Diego Boneta). Both young actors can certainly sing, but acting is a different story. They have the emotional, dramatic, over-the-top style of acting which actually tends to make up a lot of musicals, but since this is also a film, it gets to be a bit too much. Drew works at a popular nightclub called “The Bourbon Room” and after meeting Sherrie and seeing her favorite records stolen by some thug, Drew gets her a waitressing job to help her out. Working together allows them to grow closer and undoubtedly fall for one another.
Meanwhile, the club’s owner, Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin), and his best pal, Lonny Barnett (Russell Brand playing a part I thought would have been perfect for Jack Black, but Brand works too), are planning a big concert for the insanely famous rock star, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), to help them with unpaid taxes that are threatening the Bourbon Room. Another danger directed towards these party animals is the attack on rock ‘n’ roll led by Patricia Whitman (the stunning Catherine Zeta-Jones), the religious wife of Mayor Mike Whitman (the always awesome Bryan Cranston). And throughout the whole thing, everybody is rockin’ and singing along to classic tunes like “Anyway You Want It,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Don’t Stop Believin’” and many more.
While the two lovebirds are pretty annoying apart from their singing, the rest of the all-star cast is thoroughly entertaining. Baldwin and Brand have hilarious chemistry and a very very close relationship, which makes for some laugh-out-loud scenes. Hearing the legendary Alec Baldwin and Paul Giamatti (who plays Jaxx’s manager) belt out a few lines is quite funny and surprisingly quite good. Malin Akerman (as a Rolling Stone reporter) and Zeta-Jones make for some nice eye candy, but can also sing exceptionally
well. Mary J. Blige
appears halfway through and provides her professional chops, while Tom Cruise
stuns the crowd by sounding absolutely incredible for a man more commonly seen on the big screen kicking ass and taking names. We’ve seen him rap before in Tropic Thunder
, but this time around he showcases even more talent and we get to see him be funny again.
While Rock of Ages isn’t a great film, you’ll probably find yourself tapping along when the ‘80s jams blast through the speakers of the theater. Evidently, the soundtrack is the best part and it’s actually worth downloading, whether you check out the movie or not, just to hear these A-listers prove their talent, but the rest of the movie is filled with a significant amount of corniness. Nevertheless, there are plenty of humorous moments and it works when it acknowledges the rather goofy quality that makes up most musicals. For instance, in the beginning we find Sherrie singing on a bus and the rest of the passengers unexpectedly join in one by one. Other times, however, when the supporting (and I use that word quite literally) actors are not present, the movie becomes less satisfying.
Overall, Rock of Ages is halfway decent cheesy fun. Every time I rolled my eyes, I also chuckled a bit. And if you’re a fan of the classic hits, then you might take delight in seeing some of Hollywood’s finest perform them. I know I did. If not, then definitely steer clear. The film may be a rose for some, but it certainly has its thorn.
Set in 1987 Los Angeles, Drew and Sherrie are two young people chasing their dreams in the big city. When they meet, it’s love at first sight, though their romance will face a series of challenges.