Written by Justin Theroux and Chris D'Arienzo
and Allan Loeb
Directed by Adam Shankman
Running Time: 2:03
for sexual content, suggestive dancing,
some heavy drinking, and language
Rock of Ages was a simple movie with a great soundtrack and too many stories.
It's 1987 and Sherrie has moved to L.A. to make it big as a singer. She immediately meets Drew who has the same dream, and the two quickly fall in love. Meanwhile, Dennis and Lonny are running a popular bar that is on the verge of closing. And mega rock superstar Stacee Jaxx has no idea where his life is going.
As I said, there are way too many story lines in the film. Sherrie and Drew fall in love, have a misunderstanding and break up. She becomes a stripper, he joins a boy band. Dennis and Lonny have a life long friendship that may have only scratched the surface, all the time they're worried about their business falling apart. And then there's the gubernatorial candidate and his wife who are trying to close the club down. The wife of course may or may not have had an affair with Stacee Jaxx. Jaxx is unsure where his life is going until he meets a Rolling Stone reporter who tries to be professional but can't. Meanwhile Jaxx's manager may or may not be stealing from him. Oh and then the strangest story, when Sherrie becomes a stripper, the woman who runs the club has her own sordid past except we get to see her ex-husband for the briefest of seconds, yet we're supposed to care about her? Yes, all the stories were just excuses to come up with songs for everyone to sing, but really, there were so many of them I didn't care about any of them. All I really wanted out of this movie were three things: One, to see what Julianne Hough was going to wear next; Two, to see what song was coming up next; and Three, more Tom Cruise. Cruise owned his role as the superstar who didn't know where he was headed. Cruise milked every second he had on screen for everything he could and completely stole the movie. He does have some singing chops, though his voice is a little on the light side. But really, there aren't many people who can sing Bon Jovi besides Jon himself, so Cruise did a fairly good job.
There are probably about a dozen different story lines that run through Rock of Ages, none of which are particularly satisfying, with the possible exception of Stacee Jaxx and that's solely because of the performance of Tom Cruise. Still, I enjoyed the movie because it's got a great soundtrack. If you're a fan of 80s rock you can't help but tap your feet to the beat (like I'm doing right now while listening to the soundtrack). Everyone in the cast gets a chance to sing, and they all do a fine job. Some are better than others, and I'm pretty sure Mary J. Blige was added just to up the overall cast singing talent, but all in all there are no down moments - as far as the music goes. Hell even Paul Giamatti gets into the act and he's the last person I'd expect to sing. Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand have arguably the best moment in the film while singing a duet. Julianne Hough is absolutely stunning, both as a singer and as a vision of beauty. I sweat if aliens landed on this planet and wanted to see the hottest blond we have, I'd have to point them in Hough's direction. And thankfully she's doesn't wear a whole lot in the movie which makes it that much better.
Speaking of the music, the soundtrack was filed with 80s classics like Paradise City (Tom Cruise doing Guns & Roses), Here I Go Again (Whitesnake), Rock You Like a Hurrican (The Scorpions), and what seems to have become the go-to song for launching movies/TV shows, Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. It's the big finale in this movie and it's the song that launched Glee. Apparently if you want an 80s anthem, that's the song you want. And yes, some of the songs on the soundtrack weren't actually released during or prior to 1987 (I'm looking at you More Than Words by Extreme), but I'll give it a pass since the mashup with Heaven (Warrant) was pretty good.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So I enjoyed Rock of Ages. Was it a great film? No, not even close - but no film this year (or likely this decade) will have a better soundtrack. And there's just something fun about watching movie stars singing great songs from my past. Now I must go as Wanted Dead or Alive (Tom Cruise does Bon Jovi) just came on.