ROCK OF AGES
It's 1987 and Sherie (Julianne Hough) leaves her Oklahoma home behind for Hollywood, to try and realise her dream to make it as a singer. She meets Drew (Diego Boneta), who is working as a waiter at the famous rock n'roll venue on The Strip, The Bourbon Room, run by Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand), but is also chasing his dream to sing. The venue is under threat from a 'clean up the strip' campaign by the Mayor's wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), When rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) comes to the Bourbon for a one night stand, and is interviewed for Rolling Stone by Constance (Malin Akerman), all their lives begin to change.
Review by Louise Keller:
Beyond the corny and predictable Hollywood Fame Versus Love and Boy Meets Girl themes, this toe-tapping musical offers a candy store of surprises headlined by a tattooed, bare-chested long-haired Tom Cruise as sex-crazed, booze-fuelled rockstar, Stacee Jaxx, whose pet monkey HeyMan conveniently wheels in the scotch trolley on cue. Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin are good value too, as the owners of LA's rock hot spot, The Bourbon Room, where according to Catherine Zeta-Jones' prudish Mayor's wife with a secret past, rock 'n roll is a disease. Everyone sings, even moustachioed, pony-tailed Paul Giamatti as Stacee's manager who oozes slick and shady in equal parts.
Based on Chris D'Arienzo's musical of the same name and set in 1987, director Adam Shankman, who brought Hairspray to the screen, knows exactly what the film has to offer and invites his audience to enjoy it for what it is - no more and no less. It's a bit like watching video clips with a loose story line to hang them all together plus a big dollop of star power for good measure. The City of Angels is shown off in all its glory - including the glittering diamond-lights view at night from the Hollywood sign and various iconic landmarks, like the Chateau Marmot and the now extinct Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Pretty songbird Julianne Hough plays Sherrie Christian, the girl from Oklahoma with Farrah Fawcett hair who comes to Los Angeles with stars in her eyes, while Diego Boneta in his debut feature, plays Drew Boley, who waits at The Bourbon Room ... waiting for his big break. They both play it totally straight, looking rather earnest albeit decorative and deliver their songs well. Toes tap as the songs play out, including Small Town Girl, This Must be Just Like Living in Paradise, I Love Rock 'N Roll, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Any Way You Want It, I'm a Cowboy, I Wanna Know What Love Is and Every Rose Has Its Thorn. There's a gay theme, too and chances are, gay audiences will love the film. But it's Cruise, wearing black nail polish, earring, decorative jock-strap and black leather that fascinates as he writhes and prances, tongue-kisses, spreads his legs and puts on a turn you are not likely to forget as the debauched rock star that has lost touch with reality. The film is not likely to be the rock of ages it promises, but it's in tune, in time and offers its share of excess.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It seems so long ago, 1987, not just in time but in music and in sensibilities, as Rock of Ages reminds us. Retelling this stage musical on screen makes it seem dated from both those points of view, sometimes with jarring or amusing results. But the classic story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, never seems to date. It just gets new songs.
If the story is a tad trite, the enthusiasm of the filmmakers makes up for it. Julianne Hough is sweet as Sherrie and so is Diego Boneta as Drew; their sweetness and wholesomeness makes them less interesting than some of the characters around them, notably Stacee Jaxx, played by Tom Cruise as a caricature of various rock star styles taken over the top and magnified, as it were.
He slouches, drawls, makes nonsensical statements, bares his tattooed torso and surrounds himself with nubile girls - and a crazy monkey. It's colourful if nothing else. When he performs, he channels every rock star from Mick Jagger to Jerry Lee Lewis.
Alec Baldwin is also colourful as Dennis, the manager of the Bourbon Room, a rocker reluctant to let go of his youth, trying to cope with the vagaries of the business. Russell Brand is his usual casual, entertaining self, this time with a wicked twist that comes as a surprise. Paul Giamatti makes a sleazy enough Paul Gill, Stacee Jaxx' manager and Malin Akerman is a standout as the Rolling Stone reporter who tells it like it is, which has its rewards. Sad to say, Catherine Zeta-Jones hams it up, as do some of the other supports.
The film's enthusiasm can't get over the fact that it is essentially a collage of music videos connected by a string of a story, and it is directed almost as farce - as big as if it were on stage. The result on the screen is that we can't invest too much in any of it, although Hough and Boneta do their best to warm their way into our hearts. Dotted with amusing moments and some high energy music performances, Rock of Ages is nonetheless disappointing; noisy and busy, but it just doesn't generate enough emotional wattage.
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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO
ROCK OF AGES (M)
CAST: Tom Cruise, Malin Akerman, Julianne Hough, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand,
PRODUCER: Jennifer Gibgot, Garrett Grant, Carl Levin, Tobey Maguire, Scott Prisand, Adam Shankman
DIRECTOR: Adam Shankman
SCRIPT: Justin Theroux, Chris D'Arienzo, Allan Loeb
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bojan Bazelli
EDITOR: Emma E. Hickox
MUSIC: Adam Anders and Peer Astrom
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Hutman
RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 14, 2012