Rock of Ages (Rated PG-13) 4 Stars
Adam Shankman was the genius that directed the Prop 8 musical short (if you haven’t seen it do yourself a favor and Google it. I promise you won’t regret it). However, that genius did not translate into an awesome adaptation of the popular off-Broadway musical, Rock of Ages (123 minutes). If you like musicals, you will like this. Just keep in mind that the material is in no way transcendent. Also, in my version of the film Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand spent a lot more time making out. And Mary J. Blige was an actual character instead of an afterthought.
Picture 1987 in your head. You are probably picturing denim and bad hairstyles. If you can imagine watching that for two hours while sitting in a karaoke bar having its “Dinosaurs of Rock” night, you don’t actually need to see the movie. But maybe you are dying to see a country singer and a would-be Menudo member pretending to be hard rockers? Or maybe you want to see Tom Cruise grabbing women and being both gross and shirtless? Well then, this is the movie for you.
Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) is a wide-eyed innocent from Oklahoma. Her dream of becoming a famous singer leads her to L.A., where she meets bar-tender Drew Boley (Diego Boneta). He wants to be a singer too! They have some much in common! Predictable love story ensues, which I watch intently in order to hear a few moments of “Don’t Stop Believing,” the best Journey song ever.
After a bit of back and forth, Sherrie gets a job working at the same club as Drew, which is owned by Dennis Dupree (Baldwin) and Lonny Barnett (Brand). They need the extra help because they’re hosting the final concert of Stacee Jaxx (Cruise). Too bad the Mayor (Bryan Cranston) has his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are picketing the club in an effort to rid L.A. of its corrupting influence.
The night of the big show arrives and the opening act is a no-show. Since Drew is too much of a wimp to speak up, Sherrie carpe diems by convincing the owners to give her a shot at realizing her dream of becoming a singer. Or at least that’s what would happen in a movie a bit more female friendly. In fact, she gets the owners to let Drew have a shot and wanders around humming “Stand by Your Man.”
Before the show, a reporter (Malin Ackerman, continuing her efforts to make us forget the one cool role she had in Watchmen) arrives to interview Jaxx. The entire female cast falls over at the mere sight of Jaxx and she is no exception. This is extremely irritating to me. Even more irritating is the way that Cruise is paid huge amounts of money to act crazy on film when it doesn’t require him to act at all.
Drew misinterprets a moment between Jaxx and his girlfriend, and then unleashes a misogynistic onslaught all over her. This rejection leads her to recommit to pursuing her dream for about five minutes, but then she gives up when she doesn’t become an instant singing sensation. Meanwhile, Drew descends into the seedy underbelly of a Boy Band factory.
As Drew is drawn further and further into the degradation of pop-rap and multi-colored oversized shirts, Sherrie decides to work at a strip club where the ladies do pole tricks that must be the envy of even the most creative Cirque du Soleil gymnast.
Overall, if you’re anything at all like me, you will sing along to the songs dur-ing the movie, and consider buying the soundtrack while planning to listen to it only when you are alone. I mean, this was no Jesus Christ Superstar, but it wasn’t bad.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.