Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rock of Ages

Starring: Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin
Director: Adam Shankman
Running Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Rating: PG-13

“Rock of Ages” is everything you’d expect it to be - perfectly cheesy, high energy and full of good jams. I’ll try to equate my review of the film to singing terminology: while most of the movie was pitch-perfect, some aspects definitely strained the vocal cords. After seeing the awesome tour at the Blumenthal, I knew going into the film that it would be a fun 2-hour escape back to the 80s. More than anything, I was eager to see Tom Cruise’s hyped up return to the big screen.

For those of you non-musical theatre junkies, “Rock of Ages” originated on Broadway, and tells the story of young, fresh-faced, na├»ve Sherrie and her quest for fame, and more importantly love, in 1987 Los Angeles. We’re taken back to a world which few of us experienced, and it’s hard to resist singing along to every great song from the decade, and some you even forgot about (“Heaven” by Warrant, anyone?) Julianne Hough plays Sherrie with ease, and if I’m being blunt, she’s smoking hot (way to go Ryan Seacrest.) After meeting Drew (newcomer Diego Boneta), he gets her a job at his place of work – the infamous Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip. The two fall hard for each other and share every ballad known to top the 1980s charts, but alas, love is fleeting, and the story’s subplots begin to take shape.

As Mayor Mike Whitmore and manic wife Patricia, Bryan Cranston and Catherine Zeta-Jones are spot-on casting. CZ-J makes a tremendous welcome back to the big screen (though she has definitely had some work done) and we get to hear those pipes of hers we first heard in “Chicago.” Their goal is to “clean up” the Strip, which inevitably means closing the Bourbon Room.

Alec Baldwin is one of the actors that was definitely stretching here. Give me Alec in “It’s Complicated” any day over this tired, coarse owner of the Bourbon Room. His trademark (albeit recent) raunchy humor was nowhere to be found, and he depended on his scenes with Russell Brand for the laughs. (I still can’t decide if Russell was wearing a wig, because his hair is always a hot mess even in real life.) The Bourbon Room is in financial troubles up to their vocal cords, and the impending threat of closing encourages them to call in the big guns: a performance from washed up rock god Stacee Jaxx.

I’ve been reading about Tom Cruise’s performance in this movie for months now. I was underwhelmed. I don’t associate the word “sexpot” with “Tom Cruise.” Some of his scenes moved a bit too slow; he paused too long for effect. His scenes with Malin Akerman were disgustingly sexual, but some of the more comedic in the film. Akerman’s comedic timing as a reporter for Rolling Stone was outrageously perfect. No one is sure whether or not Stacee Jaxx will be able to perform like he did in his prime, but the Bourbon Room is desperate for any sort of financial salvation.
Constantine Maroulis
Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter,
Brian To/FilmMagic/Getty Images 

Luckily with today’s advancements in the studio, all of the actors sang beautifully, and I wanted to applaud after each number (that’s the musical theatre nerd in me talking.) The movie gets extra points for throwing in a cameo of #2 on my hottie list, Constantine Maroulis, because he was featured on the Broadway tour! (Leo is #1 for those of you keeping track.) “Rock of Ages” is fun for dates, parents – anyone looking to re-live or sing their way through the 80s.

"Rock of Ages" trailer

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