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.
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 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 ~
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 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 13, 2012
This movie was so fun and enjoyable! I found myself singing to the songs and very into the movie! Diego and Julianne were so good in this movie!! Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Russel Brand were very unforgettable in this movie. The soundtrack is amazing and I need to see it on Broadway pronto!
on July 5, 2012
I just love this movie! At this time, it is still playing in the theater and I've seen it three times. I'm an 80's kid so, I guess it really speaks to me, but, besides that, the movie just has this energy that pulsates off the screen.
Like with all musicals, especially cheesy ones like this, there are some songs I like, and some I don't.
But Tom Cruise is wonderful as Stacee Jaxx, the aging heavy metal rock star. I also think the Rolling Stone reporter he falls in love with is absoluetly stunning. I just love her Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, hair! God, she's hot!
Her duet, with Cruise ('I want to know what love is') is so campy, sexy and fun that it hurts! The first time I saw it, I thought it was okay, and rather corny, but the second time, it really grew on me. I got where the film makers were going. The third time, was definitely the charm! I love how the song builds, and their sexual excitement rises! ('Let's talk about...looove! I wanna feel it, too!Wanna feeeel it, toooo!') Yummy. And sort of naughty.
Catherine Zeta Jone's 'Hit me with your best shot!' number, set in a church..(!).. to Michael Jackson-style dancing..(!?) is so 'over-the-top' that, after watching it, I had to ask myself, 'Did that just really freakin' happen?' This scene stayed with me way after leaving the theater, causing me to rush back, the next day, to watch it again. I'm not kidding.
Jeeze! Holy cow, Batman! Not since 'Xanadu','Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club' 'Earth Girls are Easy' and, yes, 'From Justin to Kelly' has dancing and singing on the silver screen been so strange, and, well, sort of twisted. Almost at times, nightmarish. But, in a good way. Kinda.
The scenes with Mary J.Blige singing in her club while strippers dance and twirl on poles behind her to ,'Shadows of the Night' and 'Anyway you want it' has to be seen to believe. It's like a sexed-up circus performance. Two more scenes that had me running back to see it again.
The two young leads are so cute and sweet that you can almost smell the cotton candy. Maybe, taste it, too.
I just loooove Drew's hair! Sooo thick and wavy like chocolate frosting. And his 'Juxebox Hero' song, in the record store with Sherri, is just way cool and spunky! Love the star-framed shades, boy!
I also enjoyed their 'Waiting for a girl like you.' montage as they meet up for their first date behind the famous Hollywood sign. Oh, and Sherri spraying her 'big' hair with Aqua-Net while Drew sprays himself, down....there, with perfume, is pretty darn hot, in a cotton candy kind of way. Shades of 'Grease' come rolling like thunder during these scenes. (Summer Nights, Sandy, Hopelessly Devoted..)
The only big gripe I have, aside from the annoying scenes with Stacee Jax's manager, (those scenes really drag down the film's mojo, in my opinion) is, after listening to the movie's soundtrack, I discovered that the 'Rock you like a Hurricane' number, with Jax and Sherri..(!?)..has apparently been cut out of the film! Why!? 'Hurricane' is one of my all time favorite rock songs from the 80's. The song is just so, angry, and...alive! Why remove it from the film but yet have it on the soundtrack? Last minute tampering, no doubt.
By the way,is this the infamous scene where Sherri does a lap dance for Tom Cruise that was cut from the movie? And, if it was, where did it fit in with the rest of the story? Did Stacee come to the strip club where Sherri was working? Is it just a fantasy scene? Did it happen early on at The Bourbon Club?
Just like Drew shouts in the movie...'I wanna Rock!' 'I wanna know!' What is up with this deleted scene and if it is, the 'Rock you like a Hurricane' number. Is it in the original broadway production? I guess I have to look it up, and do a little research. Unless, someone out there knows and can fill me in. Any feedback on this missing scene, or any others, would be helpful. Thanx....
I read somewhere that it will be included on the director's DVD cut, and, well, that's just wrong. It smells like a gimmick to me. Just to make more money. 'Hey, if you want to see Sherri strip for Tom', you have to buy the DVD when it comes out. Boooo! That's pretty lame. Granted, I will be buying the DVD off Amazon when it comes out, it's just, watching the deleted scenes on TV, just isn't the same as watching it up on the big screen.
Also, it is a little disappointing that they didn't play the song 'Oh, Sherri' in the movie. (briefly playing the intro while Drew was thinking about Sherri,just didn't cut it for me.) Steve Perry's 'Oh, Sherri' is a song you just don't hear much anymore these days on the radio. It would've been refreshing to hear Drew sing it to his girl, somewhere, sometime in the movie, even if it was just part of the song.
Okay...I'm finished. For now. Until I start obsessing over the next poor movie that comes my way. And, I will. Being the movie freak that I am. Thanx for reading..........Kevin BriaN
on October 14, 2012
I'll just start by saying that this was the most fun I've had watching a movie in a long time. I laughed, I sang along with the songs, and just had a blast.
I thought everyone, especially Tom Cruise, did a great job in this film. I never would have guessed that Tom could sing so well! He has a really nice rock voice (who knew!) I also, to my shock, thought he was rather sexy!
I was never a huge fan of Cruise, I never hated him as an actor but he just never really blew me away before. Now I have to say he really shocked me in this film! This is one of the best performances I've seen from him in a long long time, and is really the first time I completely forgot I was watching Tom Cruise, all I saw was Stacee Jaxx!
So bravo Tom!
There are a few things you have to keep in mind when watching this film:
1) It's a musical, and a jukebox musical to boot. If you can't buy the idea of people randomly bursting into song, you won't like the film.
2) Yes, it's got Tom Cruise playing a rock star, not everyone likes Tom Cruise, and if you can't get over the idea of him on stage singing "Pour Some Sugar On Me" then you might want to stay away. However I would encourage you to give him a chance because he does a really really great job.
3) It has 80's Rock songs, you HAVE to like this type of music to like this film, period. I was just a toddler in the 80's but my parents always played these songs while I was growing up so I have a deep fondness for the music.
And lastly this is NOT a film to be taken seriously, it's a movie about crazy 80's music. Yes the plot is paper thin (boy meets girl, fall in love, break up over misunderstanding, get back together again) but it's NOT the plot that drives this movie.
Nor is it the character development, the actors are all purposely hamming it up for laughs. And personally I find this refreshing. Way too many flims nowadays take themselves too seriously, and we audience members tend to take movies way too seriously. We forget they are meant for entertainment, sometimes you just want to have FUN and that is what this movie really is...FUN.
But you have to like the MUSIC because the music is really what drives the film and holds it all together. If you don't like 80's Rock, stay away from this because the music IS the movie.
When you go to a rock concert are you going to analyze? No, you're going to have fun and that's how you have to approach this movie. So let your hair down, turn your brain on neutral, grab yourself a popcorn and a beer and make sure you crank the volume all the way up!
This movie is 'nothin' but a good time' and that's what I had watching it.
A rocking good time!
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.