I’m a child of the 70s and 80s. I love music. I love movies. So there was no-way, no how, I was not going to see Rock Of Ages. Naturally I was accompanied by the adolescent units JLO1 and JLO2 who are exactly the same as me but 35 years younger. Lucky them. We, all three of us, really dug the film man. None of us have seen the musical, so we couldn’t compare and didn’t have expectations.
If I wanted to, there are plenty of things I could pick about this film. But at the end of the day you are either going to go with the flow or you can nitpick, compare and complain. I’m a flow guy myself. My time and money are precious so I don’t want to force myself to have a bad time if I can help it. Unless its an Adam Sandler film. What I’m saying here is that I extended some grace towards Rock of Ages and it paid me back – with humour, energy, great songs and an upbeat vibe.
In the opening scene – Cherrie (Julianne Hough) is a young Oklahoma singer leaving town for Hollywood seeking fame, excitement and love. Shes flicking through the records she’s bought and starts singing and then of course the driver and the rest of the passengers join in. Fantastic, we’re off to a great start here. Arriving in Hollywood surrounded by the bustle and bright lights she bursts out into “Just Like Livin’ in Paradise” and we are well and truly on our way. Cherrie’s love interest Drew (Diego Boneta) – also a singer – is working at The Bourbon Room as a bar tender.
So to fast forward – the Mayor and his puritan wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) want to shut the Bourbon Room down. Its run by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and his simple but charming cockney partner Lonny (Russel Brand). To stave off bankruptcy and fight the Mayor Dupree calls in a favour from Rock-God Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). If he can get Stacee Jaxx to perform his last gig there he’ll make enough money to save his club. Well Stacee Jaxx and his manager (Paul Giamatti) are not the most predictable of fellows and things become complicated.
This is a skeletal story to hang some great songs on with plenty of jokes and over-the-top performances. Tom Cruise is mostly great, Paul Giamatti is always fantastic, Alec Baldwin is quite funny and Russel Brand so so. Catherine Zeta-Jones is incredible and for my money her performance of Pat Benatar’s “Hit me with Your Best Shot” was a real highlight. Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta are good bordering on great.
I hold the Blues Brothers dear as my all-time favourite musical and film. This is no Blues Brothers but nothing else is.
I’ll give it 7 stars out of 10
PS It has a monkey in it. Monkey’s are always worth an extra star – so 8 out of 10 (see The Hangover 2)