Rock of Ages Directed by: Adam Shankman Cast: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige Running Time: 2 hrs 3 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: June 15, 2012
PLOT: Two wannabe stars (Hough and Boneta) in 1980s Los Angeles fall in love while working at a famous rock club called The Bourbon.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Do you like these songs so much that you want hear them sung again, poorly, by other people? Think really hard about that one before you say "Maybe."
EXPECTATIONS: While I have not seen the musical, I had heard good things about it. I was hoping that this movie would be able to win me over, despite my disdain for this recent flow of media obsessed with recreating old songs.
Julianne Hough as Sherrie Christian: The "small town girl living in a lonely world" cliché is tragically given a straight-faced embodiment by Hough, who was much more fun in last year's surprisingly invigorating cover of Footloose. Aside from simply being a part of a dastardly lame romantic duo, her voice does no service to these songs, of which she sings and dances for many of them. Her high singing voice has no distinct attitude; instead it's sleek like a pop star's, (and might even be autotuned?) which isn't very "rock 'n roll" at all. Hough's performance isn't able to survive its miscasting. Score: 2
Diego Boneta as Drew Boley: At least Hough has a cliché to work with — Boley is just really boring here. Throughout the story, he's made into the film's rock star but has no presence, or remarkable reason to be on-screen as opposed to someone else. Even a ridiculous change to his character's direction in the second act doesn't make us like him, or even sympathize with him. Instead, it just makes a tool of a young man even more tool-like. Score: 2
Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx: Cruise gets a chance to parody his mysterious presence as a rock star actor with Stacee Jaxx, a hollow display of rock 'n roll indulgence. Though he has added fire to wacked out pretension before (such as in Magnolia), Cruise's winking performance here is simply no fun. In the movie's scheme of things, he's just another a**hole who needs to "know what love is." Maybe if Rock of Ages were to inspire a sense of joy with hearing our favorites that Jaxx apparently wrote, we'd be able to see this guy as more than a glorified loser. Score: 3
Rest of Cast: Rock of Ages tries to distract us from its own ugliness with Paul Giamatti playing a slimy producer, but he only become symbolic of the forces that made this movie happen. Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin add little charm as older managers of the movie's central rock club, The Bourbon, which is being targeted by the of-course crabby and of-course repressed character of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Thrown into the second act with no reason to be there, Mary J. Blige is completely useless in this entire movie. Score: 3
TALKING: In between the movie's over-complicated musical numbers, the dialogue of this story might as well be replaced with really loud guitar feedback. It's fluffy junk that is more there to carry the musical to its next song instead of build its many characters or relationships past the level of dull cliché. The interactions between the young wannabe stars, especially, are vacuous moments in an already empty movie. Score: 2
SIGHTS: Because the movie insists on playing out these songs in full despite their simple and repetitive messages, these musical sequences feel extremely long. Even worse, they are cluttered with busyness both in choreography and editing, sometimes unsuccessfully trying to blend two parallel character moments. Score: 4
SOUNDS: The Rock of Ages soundtrack has a whole greedy handful of 80s songs, with many of them used in a painfully literal way within the story. Songs include "Wanted Dead or Alive," "I Wanna Rock," "Waiting For A Girl Like You," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Anyway You Want It," "Rock You Like A Hurricane," and of course, "Don't Stop Believing." The most amusing of all covers in this story might be "Can't Fight This Feeling" by Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, for its usage actually comes with a context one may not totally expect. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: The least evil moment of this movie might be when Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand are playing mini-golf, in a flash back. But that's it.
ENDING: Did Quiet Riot just get away with not being covered in the soundtrack?
REWATCHABILITY: Never, if possible. Once is very much enough.
Even though it is so adamant on getting as many songs on-screen as possible, Rock of Ages provides no special spirit for these tunes; it has no passion for these songs that about foot-stomping, fist-pumping independence and power, etc. This movie regurgitates a whole bunch of songs in a straight-faced cheesy way that proves they are far from ageless. At the very least, such a concept would be better if it more were interactive, instead of just watching people sing these songs in exhausting musical numbers - but then it would be called "Guitar Hero."
With no offense meant for those who truly like these songs, Rock of Ages cements the concept that such songs are now only useful for personal nostalgia, or impromptu sing-alongs in bars when you can't remember a song past its second verse. But even if you were to watch Rock of Ages in such an environment, you probably won't be nearly drunk enough to enjoy this crap.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10