Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Riding on a story that seems to be stitched together from ‘80s rock music video clichés, ‘Rock of Ages’ is a musical that might not get you on your feet, but does manage to those that grew up in the era toe-tapping and go through that mouldy CD collection for the original songs.
The straight-out-of-MTV plot tells how Sherrie (Julianne Bough), a small-town girl who takes the bus to L.A. in order to achieve her rock and roll dreams. After having her luggage stolen, she stumbles onto The Bourbon Room and wanna-be rocker Drew (Diego Boneta). He gets her a gig waiting tables at the club, which is run by a shaggy Alec Baldwin with the assistance of an even shaggier Russell Brand.
The Room is under assault by bankruptcy as well as do-gooder Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta Jones), who wants to shut the Bourbon Room down. The joint might have a saving angel, though, in the form of Tom Cruise, who plays Axl Rose-like rocker Stacey Jaxx. But Jaxx is managed by the slimy and devious Paul Giamatti.
Filling up the movies are a whole bunch of songs from the ‘80s, with plenty from Foreigner, Journey, Poison and a handful of other bands, including REO Speedwagon.
Nonetheless, the film doesn’t quite muster the energy to really do the songs justice, and many of the numbers come across as big-screen versions of those done in Glee.
Director Adam Shankman (‘Hairspray’, ‘The Pacifier’) never really turns things up to eleven, and keeps the film coasting along.
Undoubtedly, Cruise tries to steal the show as the unpredictable Jaxx, but his performance is just unpersuasive and his bad boy routine is exactly what it is; an act.
Coupled with the cheap jokes, the film struggles from song to song. Like in the hit TV show Glee, the songs move the story along, and you can even sing-along to them, as lyrics are displayed throughout the course of the movie.
The relationship between Sherrie and Drew runs into predictable problems after a misunderstanding and different aspirations, but it’s all quickly patched up by the end.
Leads Bough and Boneta are fairly capable, though it’s up to Baldwin and Brand, who display a surprising chemistry, to save the day. Their duet of a REO Speedwagon number is one of the lone bright spots.
‘Rock of Ages’ is quite an inoffensive marriage of ‘80s hair metal with a Broadway musical. It’s imbibed with nostalgia rather than rebelliousness, and puts the music, and that decade, as a silly but fun time. It never really digs deep, and lacks the satirical punch of a film like ‘This Is Spinal Tap’, but if you love the music of Def Leppard and Twisted Sister, ‘Rock of Ages’ might just get you in the mood to rock out.
Travis Wong is a film loving geek who got his start from frequenting video shops in JB. He frequented movie theaters more often than school, and received his cinematic epiphany when he watched 'Taxi Driver'. While not driving a cab, he haunts DVD shops, and he currently has the largest remaining collection of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs in the country.