It was my thirtieth birthday last Wednesday, and I was determined to take myself and the kidlet out and do A Thing during the day instead of sitting around incessantly shaking a stuffed robot at her and singing songs about Masterchef contestants. Unfortunately, the only option was the terrible-looking Rock of Ages (I’ve already done 1987 once, and that was enough.) But after a scare where we thought the babes in arms movie option was instead Adam Sandler laugh-an-hour fest That’s My Boy, suddenly it seemed like a perfectly serviceable film, and, thanks to a lovely new mother-type friend who also jumped at the chance to go to the flicks during daytime hours, off we went to see it with our best perms and midriff-baring band t-shirts. (Haha I’m kidding, my stomach looks like I was in the last Freddy Kreuger movie.)
Peachy blonde bubble of enthusiasm Sherrie (Julianne Hough) arrives in Hollywood from the town of Dreamsquasher USA and within minutes is mugged then saved by mop of curly hair Drew (Diego Boneta), an employee of the famed Bourbon Room who also kindly nabs her a job there. Both are musicians, and the Bourbon Room is a haven for rock music lovers after giving Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise, channelling Axl Rose et al) his big break. But the Room is in trouble, with owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin, greying) and his cohort Lonny (Russell Brand as the only person who didn’t need a wig) running out of cash and fame. In the meantime, Mayor Whitmore’s wife Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones, underused) is on a mission to destroy rock music because sex, Stacee is going through a career crisis, and Drew and Sherrie’s fledging relationship is threatened by Drew’s shot at fame. And all this is conveyed through songs you probably know the words to.
While the music generally grated on me, it was a pretty entertaining film, relentless in its mashed-up tunes and enthusiastic actors. Tom Cruise is a good choice as Stacee, who is a tool, so you don’t have to force yourself to get behind him. He’s all excess, big-haired groupies and dragon-head codpieces, swanning about in a grotesque manner that will make you squirm and laugh and squirm. The singers are all passable to great, with Sherrie and Drew smiley endearing kids you want to see live happily ever after. The highlight, however, is the surprisingly touching relationship between Dennis and Lonny, two meathead looking dudes harbouring a lot of secret Feelings. The lowlight, though, is the other two hours of the movie.
Rock of Ages is terrible. They should have just done a live covers concert and be done with it, because the plot is so thin on the ground I’m not sure why they bothered. One or two lines of dialogue are in between each song and are so earnest and ridiculous that you’ll sigh and wish for the next dose of Bon Jovi. There are decade errors like the hipster-style underpants worn by Malin Ackerman’s Rolling Stone journalist Constance Sack, who also suffers from a painful dose of cliché when she turns up in glasses and a hairclip and is only attractive, apparently, after she loses both. Patricia’s plan to demolish rock is never a threat, not even for a moment, and everyone seems to know it, making Zeta-Jones a pointless addition who also has the most redundant song and dance routine in a rendition of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” that looks like it’s been choreographed by someone who never read the screenplay to see what was going on. (Lucky them.) Sherrie, down and out after leaving the Bourbon Room, stalks angrily out of a job at a diner when someone slaps her on the ass, only to go directly into a waitressing job at a strip club and then be told by boss Justice (Mary J Blige, talented but another unnecessary part) that the only way to get respect is to become a pole dancer. (Obviously pole dancers and everyone in the sex industry deserve respect, but deserving more than a waitress is a bizarre concept and has no relation to the rest of the movie anyway. I was tuning out completely by this point.) I also dislike the way the movie mocks the late-eighties angular-primary-colours pop that was blooming on the radio—anyone who makes fun of another’s musical taste is a jerk. As Stacee Jaxx’s agent, Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti) is such a complete idiot that I assumed he deliberately wanted to be broke and despised. You know what, I actually have a lot of rage for this movie, I think I have to stop before I set my keyboard on fire.
An adequate movie that you’ll enjoy more if you’re a fan of cock rock. If you’re not, watch it with a sarcastic friend for much more fun. I give it 500 out of 1987 years.