“I am a slave to rock n’ roll.”
If you’re a juke box hero that grew up in the 80s, you’ll at least recognize most of the songs used in Rock of Ages. If you remember Pearl Harbor, you’ll also recognize the boy meets girl plot. Thankfully there are some killer performances in it as well, but the parts don’t add up enough to bring it to full rock god status.
1987, Sherrie (Julianne Hough) is freshly arrived in Los Angeles. She’s chasing her dream of being a singer from Tulsa, Oklahoma all the way to the big city. What she finds is more along the boulevard of broken dreams but she does meet rocker Drew (Diego Boneta), a busboy at the Bourbon Room club. He gets her a job their too.
Club owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and his right hand man Lonny (Russell Brand) have their hands full. The club has a large tax bill due and is also facing opposition from mayor Whitmore (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Dennis has a plan though; oily manager Paul (Paul Giamatti) has booked rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) to play his final gig with his band Arsenal.
Jaxx is about to pursue a solo career and Rolling Stone journalist Constance (Malin Akerman) is there to interview him about this career choice. When the opening act for Jaxx’s show falls through, Sherrie convinces Dennis to let Drew open the show. This will lead to a misunderstanding that will change everyone’s lives.
I can’t fight this feeling anymore, Rock of Ages ran hot and cold for me. It does feature some great songs shoehorned into the film, but the plot is one that is overly familiar. Boy meets girl and “let’s up on a show” to save the club seems to have popped up in the beginnings of film. Musicals have also been around for a while, but these rock songs seemed a bit pigeonholed into the plot to me. Although I did like hearing them again, some work and some don’t.
Hough and Boneta are a bit too beautiful (I couldn’t decide who had the most makeup on) and lucky. Within minutes of arriving from podunk-ville, Sherrie has found a boyfriend and a job but that goes along with that well-worn plot. I can’t say that I took much interest in our lead characters; it might’ve been that I knew exactly where the plot was taking them.
Their performances also didn’t much catch fire with me either, again they seemed too glamor for rockers. Tom Cruise though, brings some panache to the hard rocker and has a wacked out persona fueled by excess (like having a pet monkey) and spouting oversexed mystical lines and bringing the rock to his songs.
The film could’ve used more of that (though you get a bit more in the extended cut). The older cast seemed to connect with me more than the younger, but that might’ve been me.
Rock of Ages is presented in a 1080p transfer (2.35:1). You also get two cuts of the film: the theatrical cut (123 minutes) and an extended cut (136 minutes).
Special features include the 30 minute “Legends of the Sunset Strip” that interview real rockers, the 13 minute “Stories we Sing” has some same rockers talking about their hits, the 35 minute “Defining a Decade” has Hough and Boneta hosting a series of featurettes about the making of the film, the 3 minute “Any Way You Want it” music video, a 34 second tourism film of Florida, and you can watch the film’s musical numbers separately. You also get a DVD and digital copy.
Rock of Ages failed to rock me to a degree. Some great songs and a wacked out Tom Cruise seem lost in the boy meets girl plot don’t a memorable movie make. Your mileage may vary.
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