Rock Of Ages

 

 

Following the success of the Broadway musical it was almost inevitable that we would be seeing a film adaptation at some point. What was perhaps not so predictable was the casting of Tom Cruise as the volatile rock god Stacee Jaxx, who as it turns out is quite a skilled singer.

Being a jukebox musical (using pre-existing songs) much like Mamma Mia, allows for a certain amount of audience sing-along and adds to the humour by seeing familiar 80’s rock ballads used, sometimes in unexpected ways, particularly a bizarre duet between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand.

Following the story of young aspiring singer and ‘small town girl’ Sherri (Julianne Hough) who moves to L.A for the rock scene and finds a job in the legendary rock venue the Bourbon rooms with the help of ‘city boy’ Drew (Diego Boneta) who both hope to be stars. There’s a clue to one of the songs there if you look carefully.

It may not be the most original of stories but throw in a Rock god who’s career is in jeopardy, a spurned woman waging a war on rock and roll and you get a dizzying mix of sex and Rock n’ Roll, the drugs being in short supply considering the 12A rating. Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, owners of the venue must find a way to raise money to keep their venue open and see a window of opportunity with Stacee Jaxx who began his career on their very stage.

Catherine Zeta-Jones threatens to steal the show as the picketing politician’s wife and is revelling in her return to the kind of high-kicking musical glory that earned her an Oscar in 2002’s Chicago. Brand and Baldwin make an excellent team as the managers of the venue whose relationship takes an unexpected turn and Cruise, who is introduced crotch-first in his harem-esque dressing room, is brilliant as the barely lucid, whiskey-swilling, apparently irresistible star. His performance of Pour some sugar on me was even praised by Def Leppard themselves. The shy and somewhat bookish Rolling Stone journalist Malin Ackerman is hilarious in her role and her and Cruise have not only one of the funniest sex scenes of the year but also what must be one of the most bizarre onscreen kisses ever filmed.

It is the two young leads that let the side down. Occasionally a bit wooden they are also clearly aimed at the Glee audience and although their vocals are strong they are simply too auto-tuned and poppy to really do justice to such iconic rock songs. It also doesn’t help that many of the songs in the soundtrack have already featured in Glee and Hough and Boneta’s covers are much more reminiscent of those covers than of the originals.

Rock of Ages is a barmy ride and though many moments will have you cringing, just as many will have you grinning at the sheer nonsense of it all. It’s a campy nostalgia trip for those days of old school rock and roll and despite not quite capturing the rock spirit you’ll still be belting out the killer soundtrack for days afterwards.

 

 

Verdict: ***

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