Rock of Ages (12a)
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and Tom Cruise
Running time: 123mins
A small town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.
It’s 1987 and Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) arrives in LA looking for a job and hopefully a recording contract. She meets Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) who works at the legendary The Bourbon Room, where she gets offered a job from Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin), the owner of the club and his right-hand man, Lonny (Russell Brand).
Both Sherrie and Drew have aspirations of becoming rock stars, and with rock legend Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) about to launch his solo career with a special one-off gig at The Bourbon Room, how long will it be before Sherrie or Drew get their big break?
Rock of Ages is based on the successful Broadway show of the same name and the viewer can see how easily it transfers from the stage to the big screen. This is a musical that has 80’s power ballads as big as the shoulder pads and hairdos of the period.
Sadly though, not all of the songs hit the right notes and at times the soundtrack is a direct extension of Glee. It even seems that the attendees of the high school have graduated and sadly degenerated into parodies of the, at times, low life inhabitants of LA.
The main cast do what they do, which is basically smile at the camera with bleached white teeth, while miming to their songs. This is a very big flaw as the most of the music in the film is performed on a stage or at a gig and it’s quite annoying listening to a studio recording while looking at the actor on a stage.
There are however two notable performances. The first is Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, the rock legend who has had it all, lost love and most likely a pickled liver due to the amount of alcohol he is constantly consuming. In his appearance, which mixes elements of Axel Rose, Jon Bon Jovi and Steven Tyler, not to mention some great tattoos and a rock look that would put Slash to shame, he achieves the look and excess of the period very well. Sadly though, whilst Cruise does perform all of his songs, his voice just doesn’t have that rock element to it, and when he sings Paradise City it quite clearly comes off as too pleasant.
The other notable performance is Paul Giamatti who portrays the very sleazy Paul Gill, Manager to Stacee Jaxx. Indeed, it is this performance alone that virtually saves the movie as he encompasses everything from the period; excess, ego, poor choice in clothing and no morals whatsoever.
In short, this film is a feel good movie for teenagers who have no memory of this period in music and who will recognise the cover versions from very recent television shows, whilst an older audience may cringe at some of the liberties taken with the classic lyrics. If you are looking for a foot tapping, feel good popcorn movie, this is for you. If, however, you are a fan of rock legends such as Metallica, AC/DC, Alice Cooper and others who were churning out the hits during this time period, then avoid this movie and play your favourite album… LOUD!
3 out of 5 Nerds