Rock of Ages, 2012.
Directed by Adam Shankman.
Starring Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Paul Giamatti, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Alec Baldwin and Mary J. Blige.
A small town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.
The cinematic musical is a forgotten genre with a new release seldom hitting our screens. However, when they do they can be excellent, as we saw with Chicago and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, but still a far cry from the likes of Singin’ in the Rain or The Sound of Music. Now comes Rock of Ages, a $70 million production released in mid-June, right in the middle of the summer movie season; the question is, is it any good for a modern day musical?
The tagline for the film is “Nothing But A Good Time” and this is exactly what it delivers, but not much more. But sometimes, all you want from a trip to the cinema is value for money and if you go to see Rock of Ages, you want lots of songs, plenty of toe tapping, a decent quota of laughs, and nothing too taxing in the plot department. Anything more and you’re asking too much. The film’s plot is almost non-existent but the two hour running time absolutely flies by as it delivers practically non-stop 1980s rock anthems sung by a huge cast including Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, and the main attraction, Tom Cruise.
The cast’s talent for hitting the right notes, however, is varied. Zeta-Jones and Brand never convince in the songs but Brand does deliver some good laughs, as does the always dependable Baldwin. Julianne Hough has the most screen time and makes up for a limited acting range with a fantastic voice and being far too easy on the eyes – an accolade shared with Malin Akerman, who is sadly on screen for far too short a time.
The film is stolen, of course, by Tom Cruise as ‘legendary’ rocker Stacee Jaxx, a man who personifies sex, loud music, idol worship, and… sex. Cruise, best known for his action blockbusters and meticulous stunt work, first appears onscreen in leather chaps and not much else and is really playing against type here like he did as foul mouthed Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. With the long wig, headband, tattoos and black nail vanish Cruise looks the part, but it’s when he starts to belt out Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ that you no longer see Tom Cruise but rather Stacee Jaxx as the actor gyrates and rocks out on the set – it’s worth the ticket price alone to see him in such a different role. Moreover, he can really sing a rock song like you’d never have thought possible!
If you’re looking for a bit of pure escapism, then Rock of Ages is the film to see. If you’re after anything else, you might walk out disappointed. Either way, like the tagline says, it’s a good time, if nothing else.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★