Rock of Ages is the ultimate guilty pleasure for those who adore Eighties rock ‘n’ roll. It may be cheesier than a Gorgonzola pizza and camper than Freddie Mercury in sparkly spandex pyjamas, one thing is for sure – you will come away smiling and uplifted.
Rock of Ages – based on the West End musical of the same name – is penned by Tropic Thunder and Zoolander writer, Justin Theroux, and Chris D’Arienzo. The stage show has been an international hit, which makes the film a slight disappointment.
Only someone who is a fan of rock bands like Journey, Bon Jovi and Foreigner can actually enjoy the musical, since it consists of a constant splurge of Eighties glam-rock songs which are vaguely tied into the hackneyed plot. The indulgent costumes, dance routines and glitzy musical numbers work fantastically on stage – it is visually stunning – yet it seems far too over-the-top and cringe-worthy on screen.
We see Cherry (Julianne Hough) ‘a small town girl’ – who is as fresh faced as Doris Day – come to 1987 LA to live out her dream of being a singer. She soon meets tousle-haired Drew (Diego Boneta), a hunky barman who works at the scuzzy – but legendary – music bar called The Bourbon Room. He too dreams of making it big, but the Mayor’s wife, feisty Patricia Whitmore, wants to clean-up the city to stop this ‘satanic’ music influencing youngsters. Patricia, as played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, protests with a group of church-goers ‘We’re not gonna take it any more’ to the unruly rockers who fight back claiming ‘We built this city on rock and roll’.
Tenuous links aside, the main comedy comes in the form of Alec Baldwin‘s character, Dennis Dupree – the owner of The Bourbon – and his British assistant played by Russell Brand, who with his natural look of roughed-up hair, thick eye-liner and skinny jeans, didn’t even need to put on a costume.
Brand’s accent roams between Birmingham and Liverpool which makes it all the more entertaining during the side-splitting, camp love duet between him and Baldwin. Never before has man-love been shown more delicately than riding horses on a merry-go-round..
It may not have any notions of real life or real singing, but you cannot help but adore Tom Cruise in this film. The Top Gun-actor plays Stacee Jaxx, a legendary rock god who doesn’t feel complete without a bottle in his hand and a constant entourage of scantily clad girls around him.
Despite his gym-toned torso being totally at odds with alcoholism, Cruise pulls off Bon Jovi‘s Wanted Dead or Alive rather well, or maybe we are just too distracted by his leather pants and his luscious long brown locks.
If it’s light-hearted, cheerful and forgettable entertainment you’re after then you could do a lot worse. But it certainly isn’t one of director, Adam Shankman’s best films. The director of The Wedding Planner has certainly let his standards fall from 2007’s Hairspray. While Hairspray embraced it’s campness, Rock of Ages suffers from trying to be a little more serious and realistic.
Overall, Rock of Ages is a cheesy film which will lift your spirits and make you laugh – but it’s Shaftesbury Avenue you need to go for a fantastic show which really does rock – for ages.