Movie Review Rewind: Rock of Ages (2012)
I am not sure how many of you out there enjoyed the film version of Hairspray, but it was actually better than I thought it would be and man did John Travolta love being a woman. Well, director Adam Shankman is back and is bringing another popular play from the stage to the big screen with Rock of Ages. It’s fully loaded with some big names and great talents in Hollywood. Folks like Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Julianne Hough, Mary J. Blige, Bryan Cranston and Tom Cruise. Most of them do their own singing in the film (and it’s not as bad as you might think either).
It is a story that we have all seen before: two youngsters in Hollywood chasing their dreams. But, they must struggle before they find success. But never has a story been told in this form by using some of the biggest hits from the 1980’s from bands including Poison, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Journey, Foreigner, Joan Jett, and Def Leppard. Most of the performances are good. Cruise’s performance steals the show, but it’s the songs that completely make Rock of Ages rock!
Rock of Ages takes place in 1987 Los Angeles. A young small town girl named Sherrie (Hough) is just stepping off the bus into a whole new world. She’s a singer and dancer (who isn’t in Los Angeles?) and she meets a city boy named Drew (Diego Boneta) who works at the hottest spot for rock n’ roll on the Sunset Strip, The Bourbon Room. He gets her a job there and they form a romance that is sure to last. But, there are obstacles that stand in their way involving fame, greed and rock n’ roll. Oh, and there is Stacee Jaxx (Cruise), too.
Jaxx used to be a real rock star. But now, he spends his time living the rock n’ roll dream which means all he does is drink and have sex. He is washed up and unreliable. His slimy, dirt bag manager (played disgustingly well by Giamatti) is just squeezing all he can out of him. But, an interview with a Rolling Stone writer named Constance (Malin Akerman) changes his views and alternates the path of his legendary career. Trust me when I tell you that when Cruise busts out with “Wanted Dead or Alive,” it is entertaining as hell.
Dennis Dupree (Baldwin), the owner of The Bourbon Room, and his sidekick Lonnie (Brand) provide some nice comedic relief. They even share an intimate scene together that provides possibly the biggest laugh of the movie. Jones plays the wife of Mayor Whitmore (Cranston). She wants to clean up the streets and get rid of this sinful music and behavior. She is starting with The Bourbon Room and Jaxx himself. But, the lifestyle she is trying to put an end to may be inside her as well. She also has a terrific scene where she is singing and dancing to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” She hasn’t lost a step since Chicago.
Shankman is the perfect man for this job. A dancer, choreographer, and director that knows how to deliver an inspiring story. But, also to fill it with great songs and moves to go with them. Rock of Ages is a huge production. Shankman has a great ability to balance it all and create something fresh and entertaining. While everyone in the movie shines, no one dives in and embraces their character more than Cruise. Honestly, his character is so outlandish and over the top. But, he has a different side to him that he finally reveals. Only Cruise can take someone named Stacee Jaxx and make him a likable human being. A lot of people counted Cruise out. But, with the new Mission: Impossible movie and his electric performance in this, he’s still got it and that has to be appreciated.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Rock of Ages will make you move and sing the songs we all know and love. What makes it even better is the fact that these songs can tie in to a story about love along with sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, of course. We can’t leave those out. Shankman does a wonderful job displaying everyone’s talents, especially Cruise. And, in making this musical into something an audience can get in to and connect with. This film is a classic story with a brand new bag of tricks.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.