Big, stupid, over the top, but bloody good fun.
Rock of Ages comes out of a musical, and has held on to a lot of it’s theatrical roots as it has made its leap to the big screen. This may be explain a lot of the negative publicity it has received. Musicals are structured differently to film and Rock of Ages seems to have ignored this, to my mind to its credit.
Scenes in musicals normally occur between only two to three people at a time, serve only to move the story on and to lead us into the next song. Adam Shankman understands how effective this can be for the pace of a movie like this and given time to sit and think the whole picture could have fallen down.
As with the stage show Rock of Ages tells the story of a small town girl (yes, she’s living in a lonely world) who arrives in LA to seek her fortune and ends up working at the Bourbon Club. The club is run by an ageing rocker Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand, sporting the worst Birmingham accent ever committed to celluloid.
The point of this film is to take us on a roller-coaster ride through the hits of the 80′s and to do so as quickly as possible with as much entertainment as the flimsy story can muster. The Bourbon Club is under threat and can only be saved by a performance from mega star Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) meanwhile new girl Sherrie and Drew fall in and out of love while trying to become stars in the seedy underbelly of 1980′s LA. The club is also under attack from ultra-conservative Patricia Whitmore played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Where Rock of Ages excels is in having a bloody good time. Cruise is always brilliant when he plays against type and here is no exception. Baldwin similarly has a blast playing the ageing cub owner and although Brand’s accent is awful his comic timing comes into great use in commanding a lot of the one-liners. Paul Giamatti turns up to put in his standard bad guy performance and Zeta-Jones is well in control of her stuffy character.
As you would expect with a musical, most of the effort here is thrown into the musical sequences, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta are both solid musical performers and alongside this strong cast they are given the space to show just how talented they are, each song is a huge set piece and with everyone providing their own vocals the cast have an presence in the music that would have been lost with voice overs, and with Mary J. Blige waiting in the wings to give oomph when necessary the music drives this movie forward.
The comedy is strong and given to the most adept comedy performers, a sequence between Brand and Baldwin in act two is superb and handled well by Shankman, his two episodes of Glee paying dividends here.
Rock of Ages is not going to win any awards and it is certainly not the best film of the year, but as a raucous, entertainment filled Friday night’s entertainment, there can be few musicals with such broad appeal that compete.
- So, Who Embarrasses Himself The Most In Rock of Ages? [Grierson & Leitch] (deadspin.com)
- Five Reasons To See ‘Rock Of Ages’ (moviesblog.mtv.com)
- Tom, Julianne, and the Rock of Ages Crew Bring Their Musical to London (popsugar.com)
- Tom Cruise Just Had ‘Fun’ In ‘Rock Of Ages’ (mtv.com)
- Def Leppard and Poison Take Over Hollywood for ‘Rock of Ages’ Premiere (rollingstone.com)