So, let’s get some personal biases out of the way. Things I like: ‘80s hair metal, movies about music and bands, Julianne Hough when she isn’t speaking. Things I don’t like: jukebox musicals, pretentiousness, Julianne Hough when she is speaking. Things I used to like but stopped liking once they became insane: Tom Cruise.
With that out of the way, I fully expected “Rock of Ages” to be the worst movie of the year. I was wrong. It’s not that bad. Parts of it even border on brilliance, while other parts are completely terrible.
Julianne Hough stars as Sherrie, a girl who, like so many others back in the ‘80s, leaves her small town home to come to the bright city lights of Los Angeles to be a rock star. She meets Drew (Diego Boneta) who also, you guessed it, dreams of being a rock star. They work at the fictional Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip.
The Bourbon Room is hustling and bustling because of the upcoming farewell show from the band Arsenal, fronted by Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), who is going solo.
People live their dreams, hit minor snags, discover love and the power of music, and pretty much all the regular crap you’d expect from this kind of movie.
As far as the big picture goes, this movie sucks. It has no substance or message beyond the usual “live your dreams through music” thing.
As a movie, “Rock of Ages” is an abysmal failure. But as an experience, the movie almost reaches the dizzying heights of ‘80s decadence it strives for.
That’s what makes “Rock of Ages” work (when it does work). We all love those hair-metal anthems, even if we wouldn’t necessarily admit it.
The performances of the songs, along with the cast, are hit and miss. Hough is certainly very pretty and has a good voice, but she’s got no grit. She’s about as rock and roll as Celine Dion. Boneta is the real weak link in the cast, as far as singing goes, but otherwise his acting is just fine. Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand look to be having a blast playing the old-school rockers who run the Bourbon. Paul Giamatti is, as usual, a lot of fun playing the slimy villain. Catherine Zeta-Jones is mildly amusing but ultimately hollow as this movie’s stand-in for Tipper Gore.
The standout in the cast is Tom Cruise who, even in such a hollow movie, almost manages to create a real character here. Patterned after every rock star cliché in the book, Stacee Jaxx is almost profound while being completely ludicrous. Kind of like the ‘80s.
The movie is also a bit long for what it has to offer, but that’s more of a minor gripe. I had a good time watching “Rock of Ages,” and I guess that’s all that matters. Want to watch a movie that really explores the power of music in a meaningful way? Try “Almost Famous,” my favorite movie of all time.
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