This was a big hot mess of fun. I suppose that describes the 1980s, this movie, and it’s star Tom Cruise. Rock Of Ages doesn’t reflect my life and experiences in the 1980s, but it perfectly captures how I reminisce about how cheesy, awkward and entertaining they were.
Set in 1987 in Los Angeles, Sherrie if fresh off the bus and meets Drew. Both are singers who have stars in their eyes and they fall in love. Their paths cross with rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise,) Stacee’s manager (Paul Giamatti,) and a rock club owner (Alec Bladwin) as their story arc plays out like most couples newly in love, who are also living inside of a musical.
I am a big fan of film musicals and while at times the mash ups of 80s hits featured in Rock Of Ages grinded on my nerves, I did appreciate the mood and fun atmosphere they set. Then again there were moments, such as the recital of Night Ranger’s Sister Christian, that had beautiful echos of the Tiny Dancer scene from Almost Famous. Somewhere in the 3rd act, that music gets pushed to the backburner for plot development, and its a mistake.
The moments of this Off Broadway performance turned film that mock itself are the highlights. The sex, alcohol and rock and roll ego are entertaining enough, but when the movie tries to take itself seriously, the joke is on the viewer.
Maybe one of the bigger shockers here is the big names that are on the billboard for the movie including Cruise, Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta Jones and Giamatti using their singing voices. It’s more like a Glee sing along, but at least it’s not auto-tuned. I think just to hear Giamatti sing one line from Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again may have been worth the price of admission.
While the love story between Sherrie and Drew is cute, the more interesting story is whether the rock club central to the story, The Bourbon Room, will stay open. It’s trials and tribulations, which include a romantic(?) scene between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand, was much more compelling.
80s fans look closely at the crowd scene singing Starship’s We Built This City. Debbie Gibson, Kevin Cronin and Sebastian Bach are hanging out. Mary J. Blige flat out wins the best vocal performance of the show.