So, apparently Blogspot doesn’t like me anymore since it no longer allows me to post updates to the movie blog I’ve kept there for so many years. So I have abandoned http://shootingwithoutascript.blogspot.com/ and moved to greener pastures here on Tumblr. On with the review…
Rock of Ages is about a small town girl living in a lonely world who took a midnight bus going to Hollywood. Julianne Hough plays Sherri, a wanna be singer who shows up in L.A. in the late 1980s with a love of metal and desire to be a singer. Soon after she gets mugged and falls in love with Drew (Diego Boneta). Drew also gets her a job at the legendary Bourbon Room, a seemingly raucous bar owned by Alec Baldwin and his little chum Russell Brand. Drew is also a wannabe singer and both Drew and Sherri are uber excited about an upcoming gig by their favorite band Arsenal. Arsenal’s front man is Stacee Jaxx, played by Tom Cruise, and he’s about to announce that he’s leaving the band. Arsenal’s farewell performance has to help save the Bourbon Room from financial trouble because the mayor’s uptight wife played by Catherine Zeta-Jones is trying to find a way to close them down for good. Throw in Bryan Cranston as the mayor, Paul Giamatti as Stacee’s oily manager, Mary J. Blige as a madame, Malin Akerman as a mousy/horny Rolling Stone writer and a monkey, and you’ve got yourself one hell of an 80s rock musical.
If it all sounds a little similar to Burlesque, that’s because the plot is basically the same except I’d rather watch Cher and Stanely Tucci forever than have to watch Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough and their lack of anything resembling charisma. Hough fares better than Boneta here, since he is all but completely forgettable. When watching Boneta try his best to be a rock star, I just kept thinking about the missed opportunity for casting Jonathan Groff who has more charisma and charm and talent in his toes than this other guy. Hough, at least, has potential. The girl can dance, sing and act (and her level of talent goes in that order too). She’s a better dancer than anything else and her acting wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either. You start to think she’s all right and then someone like Catherine Zeta-Jones comes on screen and even though her role was one dimensional, she proves why she’s a huge star. She should only be making musicals because that’s how powerful she is at the whole singing / dancing thing. (See also: Chicago). Akerman is fine although she has little chemistry with Cruise. Russell Brand probably came out of the womb looking like a rock star, but the costume and hair people somehow managed to make him look too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Baldwin, who I love, was forgettable at best. Giamatti was fine as an unlikeable jackass.
Then there’s Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise. Tom Crusie. Tom Cruise. If you are going to go see Rock of Ages, see it for Tom Cruise. Now, I’m not his biggest fan. In fact, beyond Jerry Maguire, I can’t even think of a Tom Cruise movie I genuinely loved. But he literally becomes Stacee Jaxx here. As this Axl Rose clone, a rock star who makes his entrance in assless chaps, Cruise is all in. His dedication to this character is ridiculous and he parades around this movie like peacock, so showy and vain and just damn good. And just like I said in my review of Snow White and the Huntsman (see my old blog!), like Charlize Theron, it’s a shame that such a fantastic performance is stuck in a mediocre movie. He deserves better.
If you love 80s music then this is the movie for you. The music is super fun, of course. And there’s a lot of it! I read somewhere online that there is 23 songs, or something like that. The standout number belongs to Cruise, of course, who can actually sing really well and absolutely kills it on Wanted Dead or Alive. There’s Pat Benatar, Journey, Foreigner, and so much more. The cast is all willing and able and does a solid job on all of the songs.
So what didn’t I love about Rock of Ages? I’m not quite sure. It just didn’t jive for me. Something was lacking and missing. It’s not that it was cheesy, even though it was. Maybe it was the terrible direction. Maybe it was the way it seemed no thought at all was put into the cheoreography. Maybe it was the lack of chemistry between the two young stars. I’m not sure. The movie itself isn’t the greatest, but it is a good time and Tom Cruise alone is worth the price of admission.