Rock of Ages

Posted: June 17, 2012 in Film reviews

Directed by Adam Shankman. Starring Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta Jones, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise.

Are you ready to Rock? It’s 1987 and naïve small town girl Sherrie arrives in LA with the intention of being a big star. Within a few minutes of getting off the bus she’s been robbed, met a nice boy named Drew and got a job at the (in)famous Bourbon Room, a club run by Alec Baldwin’s Dennis, assisted by Russell Brand. The Bourbon Room is where mega rock God Stacee Jax (Cruise) made his debut, and where he’s playing his final gig with his band, Arsenal, before going solo.

Will Sherrie make the big time? Will she and Drew get a happy ending? Will Tom Cruise ever put some clothes on…

Riding in on the heels of other notable instances where a stage show has been successfully transformed into a movie money maker (Chicago, Mama Mia, Hairspray—though that was a show based on another film which may confuse matters!) comes this slice of 80’s Rock. Rock of Ages is no Mama Mia.

It isn’t without its own charms however, it just never breaks out from its fairly safe and predictable story and doesn’t quite attack the source material with the same exuberant glee that something like Mama Mia does. If you can’t see what’s coming in this film then you obviously haven’t seen enough films, in fact you’ve probably never seen a film at all. It’s fairly obvious where the film will end up, and there are no real surprises along the way.

Actually that’s not strictly true, there’s one major left turn which is very unexpected, and very funny, but this aside Rock of Ages is a fairly straightforward story of love’s young dream and making your dreams come true.

It doesn’t help that as far as Rock goes this has been fairly sanitized, it’s more soft rock than death metal, and it never really leaves its comfort zone. For the most part the characters are clichéd, although that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t feature some good performances. Zeta Jones is great as the uptight mayor’s wife with a secret, as is Giamatti who really has slime ball down to a tee. Baldwin and Brand are a great double act as well, although someone should have maybe suggested Brand made a decision whether his character was from London or Birmingham and got him to stick to it!

Initially Hough and Boneta are fairly bland leads, although thankfully they do get more likeable as the film progresses, and once their love affair and mutual careers go off the rails, Boneta in particular is a hoot once he’s repackaged as the furthest thing from a rock god… Mary J Blige turns up as the owner of a strip club, and Malin Åkerman is easy on the eye as a Rolling Stone journalist (though I loose kudos for not recognising her as Watchman’s Silk Spectre sooner!).

And there’s some other guy in this, Tom something or other… Ok, ok…Tom Cruise is good, possibly even great, although you’re never quite sure if his ‘on another planet’ Rock Star isn’t just the real him! He’s funny, and oddball though, and without him the film probably would have been a lot more forgettable, and much as he was in Interview with a Vampire, he can be strangely mesmerising when he’s doing something out of the ordinary. Not sure about the codpiece however…

Oh yes and there’s an amusing baboon as well…

All in all it’s a diverting bit of fluff, inoffensive, sweet, and quite funny in places, but not a film that’s likely to be remembered as a classic for the ages.

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