The other night my husband and I attended a sneak preview of Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta Jones, to name a few. I have never seen Rock of Ages the stage play and had limited knowledge what the movie was about other than it was a musical of sorts. Which is more than I can say for my husband, Lino, who after the first scene where Julianne Hough’s character, Sherrie breaks into song along with a dozen other strangers, turned to look at me and say ‘oh, it’s this kind of movie, is it?’. Yes, yes it very much is.
Rock of Ages tells the story of a small town girl, Sherrie, played by Julianne Hough, who travels to Hollywood with stars in her eyes in hopes of making it big as a singer. She meets the incredibly cute city boy Drew, played by Diego Boneta, himself a wannabe singer who works at the coolest rock and roll club in town called The Bourbon, owned by Alec Baldwin. Baldwin runs the bar along with manager Russell Brand and the duo provide some of the movie’s funniest moments. Drew convinces Baldwin to hire Sherrie on the night that rock legend Stacee Jaxx, played by Tom Cruise is set to perform his final show with his band Arsenal before going solo. All this while a militant band of church ladies, led by Catherine Zeta Jones, tries to shut down The Bourbon.
There’s a lot going on in this movie - maybe too much. Rock of Ages is a bit love story – thanks to Sherrie and Drew, a bit comedy, thanks to Baldwin and Brand, and a bit confusing, thanks to Cruise. Julianne is pretty enough but her voice is weak and often doesn’t match up to Boneta’s stronger, edgier voice. But they’re both likeable enough as a couple that you can get past Hough’s breath-y, nasally singing although I couldn’t help but wonder if they couldn’t have found a stronger female lead and if being Ryan Seacrest’s girlfriend didn’t help her land the role. Baldwin and Brand come very close to stealing every scene they’re in thanks to their chemistry and dry delivery. But I would have loved to see more of Mary J. Blige who played a strip club owner who befriends Sherrie, but she kind of got lost in the huge ensemble comedy/musical/drama. I can’t help but thing there were entire sections of the storyline that could have been dropped and it wouldn’t have made any difference to the movie.
What we really need to talk about is Tom Cruise. There was a lot of talk of Tom Cruise being cast as the legendary Stacee Jaxx – a stereotypical rock legend who is drunk more than sober and who can often be found buried beneath piles of half naked women and empty bottles of scotch. And you can tell that Cruise tried really really hard to make you believe that he was Stacee Jaxx, but I think he might have tried a bit too hard. Because no matter what, instead of seeing Stacee Jaxx on screen, all I saw was Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise trying to act like a cross between Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop. His portrayal of Stacee Jaxx wasn’t really natural. I mean his singing was great, which I was a bit surprised by, but his movements, and his presence on stage and his posture all felt forced. It was how he stood most of all that was so distracting – like you could see him trying to perfect his rock legend stance. It was just plain old distracting.
Rock of Ages is an enjoyable movie though, especially if you like classic rock and roll and movie musicals. It definitely didn’t leave me with any memorable moments, except how distracting Tom Cruise was. If you’re a fan of 80′s rock and roll and movie musicals I think you’ll enjoy the show, if you’re my husband, you might not.
I give Rock of Ages 3 daisies out of 5.