I saw "Rock of Ages" in a sneak preview tonight, and was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience. I had not seen the stage production, but I've seen some other stage musicals converted to movies, and have been generally disappointed, sometimes appalled (I'm looking at you, "Mama Mia!")
Set in 1987, the general plot involves a pair of newcomers to Hollywood, trying to become rock stars, but finding the closest they can get is working in the hottest rock & roll club on the Hollywood Strip. From here, the story expands to include the owners of the club, a politician and his wife who are fighting the corrupting influence of rock music, and the biggest rock god on the planet, Stacee Jaxx, played by Tom Cruise.
The movie starts out pretty cheesy, and the first few numbers garnered some giggles from the crowd, but when Tom Cruise arrives, he kicks the entire show into high gear. Say what you will about him off screen, the man is a star onscreen, and does a phenomenal job in this role.
The music was pretty solid, with the rock songs of the 80s performed by the actors. In stark contrast to Mama Mia!, the songs here have been studio produced, and sound great, avoiding the bad karaoke effect such performances often have. For the most part, the actors are not known for singing (who knew Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin could sing? OK so maybe Baldwin wasn't the strongest singer, but still decent for his role...) Julianne Hough was likeable enough as the female lead, but surprisingly (considering a music career), her singing wasn't as good as some others.
The movie got progressively better, and was quite funny. But Tom Cruise carries this musical, and did so not only with very solid acting, but a shockingly decent rock and roll voice. Without him, this would have been an unremarkable show. With him, it is a fun movie that had people in the audience singing along with the film.
on October 16, 2012
Ok, I admit it. I was an 80's party girl and loved the big hair metal bands of that era. Lord, those were great times!!! I had heard so many negative things about this movie that I didn't go to the theater to see it. I primarily bought it when it came out on dvd because I DO love 80's music, brings back sooo many great memories. I really had no high expectations where this movie was concerned, and I must admit I was curious how Tom Cruise would carry off the part of a Rock Star. His character's look intrigued me enough that I thought, what the heck, I'll get the damn movie. If it stinks, I can always donate it!
If you're expecting something along the lines of "South Pacific", "Oklahoma" or even "Chicago", keep looking, because this movie isn't it. The story's been told before many times. Small town girl heads to L.A. with stars in her eyes and big dreams in her head. She loses her record collection, finds a job, loses her innocence, finds love, loses love, finds it again, etc., etc. The Bourbon Club is under the threat of being shut down by religious fanatics for playing devil music, etc., etc. It's the ol' overcoming challenges type of movie. There is not a lot of substance to it. But, you know what?.... That's OK, because this movie is so much FUN to watch! I LOVED it for that reason alone.
I can take or leave Tom Cruise. He's made some outstanding movies, but that's because they were really good movies, i.e., good plot, good cast, good special F/X, etc. I was sooo riveted watching his performance as Stacee Jaxx. He nailed it! He was amazing. I saw a sexuality to him I didn't think existed and I was blown away. I didn't "see" Tom Cruise, I saw an aging rock star in an alcohol induced haze trying hard to stay on top. His singing was actually quite good and he moved and danced around on stage as though he were an actual rock star putting on a concert. He impressed the hell out of me in this movie.
While not a huge Alec Baldwin or Russell Brand fan, these two were delightful to watch as Dennis, the owner of The Bourbon and his right hand man Lonny. Their duet is priceless!! Who knew Alec Baldwin could sing? Very passable. The rest of the cast turned in laudable performances as well, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Mary J. Blige. Some of the songs were a blend of two different popular 80's songs sung at the same time, and and they were fabulous pairings. I really enjoyed "dueling" songs.
You know every song that's being sung, hell, you'll sing right along with them. Come on, admit it, you even remember all of the air guitar riffs and licks, and the awesome air drum solos to all these songs! Because I do. I think my husband thought I was having seizures at first due to my antics, but when he was assured that I did not in fact require medical attention, he sat down and enjoyed the movie too. So, watch this movie for the sheer enjoyment of what's on the screen and the pleasurable walk down memory lane. Watch it strictly for entertainment purposes only. DO NOT try to find any deep, thought provoking, life changing or profound storytelling here, you'll be sadly disappointed. So, park your brain at the door, crank up the volume, sing along, and just enjoy!
It's a guilty pleasure, so ROCK ON!!! Now, where did I put that mousse and extra super hold hairspray?
~ jade ~
MOVIE REVIEW #38: " Rock of Ages "
The first thing I want to say is that this film is about the Music of the 80's! - Having been a young `whipper-snapper' at the time - what surprised me most about this film - was that it was FUNNY!. Laugh out loud funny. That alone, seems to take the entire audience I was with by surprise. So-much-so, that they applauded and laughed throughout the film out loud. Like me!
Hearing these songs done by Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible, Top Gun) singing Bon Jovi's classic "Wanted Dead or Alive," (YES TOM SINGS AND VERY WELL TOO!) to Def Leppard's hit "Pour Some Sugar On Me," and Guns `N Roses anthem "Paradise City." Along with Cruise then doing duets with Malin Akerman (The Proposal, Watchmen) on Foreigner's power ballad, "I Want To Know What Love Is," and shares the mic with Julianne Hough (Footloose-2011, Burlesque) on The Scorpions' "Rock You Like A Hurricane." ...was a cinematic shock to me. As well as a hysterically performed, yet really heartfelt delivery, duet of my fav REO Speedwagon song "I Can't Fight This Feeling" between charismatic Alec Baldwin (30 Rock, Beetlejuice) and an off-the-wall Russell Brand (Arthur, Get Him To The Greek). (SPOILER: Yes, the song title tells it all!)
Based on the Broadway play - which premiered at the King King club in Hollywood, CA in 2005 transferred to the Vanguard theatre in Los Angeles, CA and finally went to the Broadway stage in 2009 - It was written by Justin Theroux (Iron Man 2, Tropic Thunder), Chris DArienzo (Hot, Barry Monday) and Allan Loeb (21, Just Go With It) it tells the story of small town girl from Ohio, Sherrie - played electrically and brilliantly by Julianne Hough and the L.A. city boy Drew, again played brilliantly by Diego Bonita (Mean Girls 2, 90210) who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. Their rock 'n' roll romance is told through other heart-pounding hits of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Night Ranger, Pat Benatar, Steve Perry, Twisted Sister, Poison and Whitesnake .
Director Adam Shankman (Hairspray, Bedtime Stories) did his best to make you tap your feet, sing along and - again - make you laugh out loud. He threaded the simple story using the dynamics of the performances and the clever `mashed' songs of the 80's. He definatle got the looks and hair styles of the time and even slams the popular `boy bands' of the time. Hysterically! From scene #1 - It's got dance, choreography and bright colors...even an adjusted LA Skyline for the times!
Tom Cruise, as Stacee Jaxx, gives another amazingly eclectic, strange, exotic (and sometime erotically suggestive) and funny performance. And I never knew he could sing. Amazing voice - yes it is him - and great musical `chops' to carry the film. Bravo Tom!
Another stand-out performance was Cathrine Zeta-Jone (Chicago, The Terminal) as the religious wife of the Mayor of Los Angeles on vengeful (and personal) vendetta again Tom Cruise character the rock star himself, Stacee Jaxx! She is spicy, passionate with dance and funny and boy she can sing her version of Pat Benatar's most popular hit "Hit Me With Your Best Shot". Bravisimo Cathrine!
Also some other standout performances came from Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Saving Private Ryan) as the crummy musical agent, singer-songwriter Mary J Blige (Entourage, Ghost Whisperer) as the club manager who takes Sherrie under her wing and Malin Ackerman (The Hearbreak Kid, Catch .44) as the confused Rolling Stone Magazine Reporter. Included are hidden cameos of REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin and Debbie Gibson themselves!
My only concern is that if you were not familiar with these great songs of the 80's...will the newer generations of audiences get it? I hope so. I'm sure they will get the humor, but like me, will they be singing along out loud with the rest of the crowd - like first screenings audience I saw it with who remembers the time - way back when `Music Had Messages'? (Kinda' of like my experience at the theatre with the film version of Mamma Mia...you couldn't help but sing along - out loud to the hits of ABBA!) This was a fun and - most importantly - funnier than I ever expected! Another good fun family (PG-13 for provocativeness) film that tells its entire simple story - through its music! GO see it!
on November 22, 2012
Fell in love with Tom Cruise! This brought back so many good memories. I went and downloaded the soundtrack. Who knew Tom Cruise could sing!
on October 11, 2012
So I was really hesitant about watching Rock of Ages--figured it was just going to be really stupid to be honest. On a whim, I decided to rent it. And I'm really glad I did! I was drawn in just from the opening number, and it held me from there. Sure...it's a lot of 80s cheese and big hair...but if you enjoy the music from this era, and aren't looking for anything deep...you'll probably really enjoy this one. Some of the rock mixes were great. I loved how they combined some of the songs. All of the actors just looked like they were having a blast as well.
My only complaint is that I wish it had a LITTLE less of of the very clearly inferred sex (just the way it was done was really in your face), because I would have loved to share this with my 13 year old daughter who is super into music too. I get that the whole premise was rock and roll and sex...but when they several times have characters whipping down their pants, a chick spanking a man bent over a table, another one looking like she is...ahhh...kneeling in front of Tom Cruise's character, and more...it was kind of on the edge for PG13. The main female character ends up being an exotic dancer..yet even those (several) scenes were less in your face (and they had plenty of pole dancing) than some of the other scenes. Again, I do get why it was there..just a side mention of wishing maybe there wasn't quite so much and instead it would have been all the music to make it a tad more family friendly. Since it would be a fun movie to share with your kids to show them what we grew up with, music-wise. I thought the male lead actually had a really good voice, Tom Cruise did a great job, as did Alec Baldwin. I enjoyed the female character (Sherri) for the most part...her voice got on my nerves every once in a while.
But...bottom line, if you enjoy 80s music and want a no-brainer, don't expect anything at all deep, just fun hour and a half--give it a try. Well worth the rental price, in my opinion.
on February 21, 2013
Know this got lousy reviews, but I thought it was great. Of course, the music is from "my" era, so that helped. Tom Cruise looked amazing. I'm not sure why he's on everyone's hate list lately, but like Mel Gibson, he's a good actor and his movies are always entertaining. I didn't buy this movie to make him my spiritual adviser, but because I knew it would be a good time, and it was.
on October 13, 2012
Heard this did not do to well on the big screen. Wanted to rent it from the video store, but they had no plans of getting it in, I guess. So, I dropped the $20.00 at Walmart for it. Glad I did. With the DVD came a cd music sampler. Bonus for me, since the songs that were on the sampler were all the ones that I did not buy here on Amazon.
Back to the movie. I cant believe it did not do better in the box office. I thought it was a great movie. The all star, and not so all star cast, were all put in there right places. Great music throughout. Some humor, little love story, so, good to watch with the girlfriend. Tom Cruise does a great job, as does the newer Juliane Hough. It did not get 5 stars from me, because, well, I know this is a musical #, but it just takes off into that a little much for me. Other than that, it was great. Also, a little bonus on the DVD was some Def Leppard live, but I think they through in some of the crowd noise in there on this. Well worth the $20.00. Also get a digital download with it.
on June 19, 2013
Rock of Ages is certainly one of the guiltiest pleasures. It is cheesy, stereotypical and who has a course of bus passengers who act as your backup singers. It's a wonderfully funny satire that is way over the top and very well acted. For an evening of laughs, great fun and well done rock'n roll you cannot beat this movie.
on June 10, 2015
The late Roger Ebert liked to believe that it's not what plot you choose for your movie, it's what you do with it. Even if the story is as old as cinema itself the movie can still be good. That really applies to ROCK OF AGES. To be honest, there isn't anything particularly original as far as story is concerned. But this movie has some really amazing performances by a group of big-time Hollywood stars: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giavanni, and Catherine Zeta Jones. Tom Cruise is especially good as the egotistical rock god Stacie Jaxx. Alec Baldwin proves that he is still a good actor as he was 20 years ago, playing the owner of the Bourbon Room club, while Russel Brand plays his business partner.
But the high point of this movie is the music. I grew up with these songs and I still love them. I recognized music by Quiet Riot, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, Poison, Guns-N-Roses, Journey, Def Leppard, Starship, and Twisted Sister. These bands had made some really AWESOME songs. And in this movie the musical scenes are 100% real. All the actors do their own singing, and are astonishing at how well they sing it. Tom Cruise had to take singing lessons and they had really paid off. And on top of that, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin perform a song together that will come as a surprise to anybody, including themselves. Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough are also amazing in their musical performances. It comes as no surprise that Boneta is a Latin pop star, and Hough is a professional country singer.
Rock-n-roll has not been the same these days. The only band that I actually have listened to lately is Rammstein, and they only go back as far as 1998. But it was refreshing to see this film and to hear such talented actors actually performing these songs; most of the time as good as the original.
on June 23, 2013
I was a young adult in 1987 when this film was set. My personal taste ran more toward New Wave than the MOR anthem and balladry that's paraded here. Regardless, I loved this flick. I think the reasoning is that the makers of the film recognized the irony in the songs without treating them like parodies. This film reminded me of classic rock films like "Rock 'N' Roll High School" and "Get Crazy" movies that celebrated rock but also had a chaotic charm to them. The actors are uniformly terrific from wholesome Julianne Hough to disheveled Alec Baldwin. The best work is delivered by Tom Cruise as a burned out rock legend. Cruise probably channeled Jim Morrison and any number of hedonistic rock stars and he seems to be having a lot of fun. This movie had lukewarm box office probably because it couldn't expand beyond its post Boomer core audience. Even if you're not familiar with the music you'll be thoroughly entertained by "Rock of Ages".