Review by Alyn Darnay
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Written by: Chris D’Arienzo
Cast: Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Cathrine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin.
If you like musical films; you should see this movie. If you like 80’s music, you need to see this film. If you like seeing Tom Cruise being outrageous, you need to see this film. If you want a feel good time at the movies, then this film is for you. Not that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, it’s not, it’s rather trite actually, but it is joyous fun. Even the performers are having a blast doing it, and their enjoyment is just…infectious.
Based on the Broadway smash by the same name, Rock of Ages tells the story of small town girl Sherrie and LA city boy Drew, who meet at the Bourbon Room (The Whiskey) on the Sunset Strip in the 80’s, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll romance woven through the heart-stomping hits of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Whitesnake and others.
Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx, the god of rock, wearing black nail polish, earring, funky jock-strap, and bare tattooed chest. He sings and prances, uses his tongue, spreads his legs, and his women’s legs, and gives us a performance you’re not likely to ever forget. He’s the epitome of a debauched rock star completely devoid of any reality. Even Poison frontman Bret Michaels liked his persona. “Tom nailed it,” Michaels said of the actor’s performance. “What I think Tom did was combine a combination of myself and Axl Rose — sort of my look and stage persona and energy, and he takes Axl Rose’s intense attitude and mixes them together. It was great.”
Under the amped-up direction of Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”), the film becomes a high-energy romp through a nostalgic period of time in rock and LA history that everyone can have fun with. Just leave your belief system at the door and go sing along with the cast. Everyone gives a great performance and they all sing pretty darn good actually, even Paul Giamatti & Alec Baldwin. The exception is probably Catherine Zeta-Jones, who seems to me to be really pushing her role too hard and with lots less verve than her role in Chicago.
I can sum up the film this way, someone I was sitting next to in the Theater after the film smiled at me and said it’s like listening to all favorite classic hits in one big session on a rainy afternoon, a guilty pleasure you never tell anyone about.