Rock of Ages

2012-07-06 09:29
 
Rock of Ages
What it's about:

Sherrie and Drew (played by Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta) are two young musicians trying to hit the big time on the Sunset Strip and it's not long before they become involved with each other and a struggling night club whose owners are just waiting for the one big gig to save them from bankruptcy.

What we thought:

If 1980s hair-metal/poodle-rock has one saving grace is that it is daft, cheesy fun. In the history of rock and roll, it is largely and rightly considered to be one of the genre's low points and with its banal melodies, inane lyrics, plodding rhythms and all the edginess of, well, a poodle, it's not hard to see why. And yet, for all of that, unlike say, grunge, it does at least have enough of a sense of its own ridiculousness to ensure that songs like We Built This City On Rock and Roll never truly deserve their reputations as "the worst song ever".

Rock of Ages is a musical built around nostalgia for that period of big sounds and bigger hair and, in the tradition of Mamma Mia and Across the Universe, it uses the massive rock hits of the time to form some sort of narrative. Needless to say, this is a disastrous idea.

It's difficult enough to build a story around Beatles songs (great music, great lyrics) and almost impossible to base a story around ABBA songs (great music, iffy lyrics) but it is sheer, bloody-minded lunacy to try and tell a story based on 80s corporate rock (bad music, truly horrendous lyrics).

As such, right from the outset, the only way in hell that Rock of Ages was going to work was by tapping in to its music's inherent sense of campy fun. It was never going to be good but it could have been real, trashy fun. It was never going to be West Side Story (Shakespeare and Sondheim are going to beat Whitesnake and Jefferson Starship every time) but it could have been, obviously inferior music aside, a decent follow up to Mamma Mia. Mamma Mia was, as you may recall, a truly atrocious film but by revelling in its own insane ridiculousness, it somehow became one of the most gloriously enjoyable musicals ever. Sadly, Mamma Mia this film ain't.

The worst thing about Rock of Ages isn't that it's bad, but that it's so unbelievably dull. Actually, scratch that: it's not unbelievably dull, it's not noteworthy or interesting enough to be "unbelievably" anything. Rock of Ages is – and I don't use this word lightly – blah. Straight down the line, everything about Rock of Ages is simply completely lacking, but never lacking enough to so much as approach becoming a genuine guilty pleasure.

Tom Cruise does a middling job of playing a self-involved, ludicrous rock star, Russell Brand has you missing his character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Alec Baldwin makes you wish you were rather watching 30 Rock and Catherine Zeta-Jones does an adequate job in a thankless role as a shrill, fairly revolting rock 'n roll-hating conservative. Even the always great Bryan Cranston (Drive, Breaking Bad) looks like he accidentally stumbled into the film while waiting for something better to come by.

As for the two "stars" of the film, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough, they are sure to have you longing for Christina Aguilera and Zac Efron in no time, despite being perfectly likeable. In fact, I like pretty much everyone in the film and yet, I couldn't help thinking all the way through, where is Pierce Brosnan steam-rolling his way through ABBA’s back catalogue when you need him?

And that's just the performances. The story is crap obviously, but it's crap in a way that's boring and clichéd, rather than truly memorably horrendous and Adam Shankman's direction always stays far too close to tastefully solid for comfort when it should be aiming for tastelessly demented. Remember Across the Universe's nutty psychedelic imagery, Rocky Horror Picture Show's unrepentant perversity and Mamma Mia's hilariously silly choreography? There's none of that in Rock of Ages. In Rock of Ages, mediocrity rules.

As for the music – that oh so crucial matter of the music - it's still rubbish, but by replacing the big-headed crassness of the originals with this sense of smoothed over, slick, seemingly auto-tuned professionalism, it loses whatever little charm it may have once had. Of course, that's really kind of emblematic of the film as a whole: What we want is charming awfulness, what we get is slick mediocrity. And in this case, that just ain't good enough.


Never taking its cue from its own music, Rock of Ages is never as cheesy, trashy or fun as it needed to be. Not even Tom Cruise as a self-involved rock star makes it worthwhile.
Read more on:    tom cruise  |  alec baldwin  |  russell brand  |  movies

Kevin Levy 2012/07/07 10:40 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
This movie is a energetic, feel-good, magical movie! All the actors can sing really well and Tom Cruise sure can rock!! However, if yu are not a "Glee" fan then the movie may not appeal to you, otherwise it is a true must-see fun movie!
Phillip 2012/07/08 5:06 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Personally I found this movie very enjoyable, I find your comment about grunge very off the mark, grunge music is rubbish. Generally I find any movie that gets trashed by you so called critics(idiots) to be enjoyable and much better than films that are liked by critics(morons).
Miena 2012/07/09 9:53 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
The movie was fun to watch, I loved the music and even though Tom Cruise is not my favourite actor I have to admit he did a great job! Don't agree with the critics on this one, after all.. we go to the movies for enjoument, not 2 hours of angst while analysing every second of it to death!
Marsh 2012/07/09 12:30 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Hey, man! Not sure why you insist the music was crap. Music from that era is great precisely because it was iffy, pretentious and bombastic. That said, I, too found the film to be quite enjoyable, perhaps because I wasn't expecting it to be West Side Story. Any film set in the 80s that features Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon and Twisted Sister songs can't be all that bad. You probably didn't like Detroit Rock City either, and that featured KISS, the worst of the worst hair rock bands of all time. The female lead was a bit thin vocally, but it seems like most of the cast had fun, particularly Brand and Baldwin. It could have been a lot worse.
Amanda 2012/07/09 12:40 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
The story isn't good, but I enjoyed the music a whole lot!!!!!! Fun to watch and sing along!!!
Jenny 2012/07/09 8:11 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Great movie, Cruise outstanding and a stunning cast. Tenterained from star to end.
Amy 2012/07/10 10:39 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
It was okay. Movie was a bit too long. Music was good. Not sure if Tom Cruise fits that role.
Lila 2012/07/10 1:50 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Went to watch a movie last night....really enjoyed the it. It's just a feel good, no think kinda movie and we did end up laughing through most of it but it was fun. The music was also awesome with Tim Cruise giving a very good performance...don't expect to much...just go with it and enjoy!
ramana 2012/07/10 5:31 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
i watched this movie and liked very much.Tom's voice is quite sexy especially pour some sugar on me. Even at the age of 50 he is still rocking
taryn 2012/07/10 8:15 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I am really not a fan of musicals at all, and landed up watching this movie as a last resort and I must say I really enjoyed it. I loved the music, I loved Russell Brand, Alec Balwin and Tom Cruise's characters. It was cheesy and fun and I sang along.
Robz 2012/07/11 8:55 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
HORRIBLE MOVIE! Tom Cruise & Russel Brand were brilliant but everything else about this movie was insipid and dull. I didn't expect it to be edgy but I expected something slightly more Rock 'n Roll and less High School Musical. As a big 80's rock fan I just felt they ripped out the heart of what the music was about and polished it into family friendly rainbow pony nonsense.
Bronwyn L 2012/07/12 10:21 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I thought the acting was really bad and you didn't get to connect with the characters that well. The fact that the Bourbon was the place Stacee Jaxx got his first gig was lost on most. They should have delved more into the characters, and I think it would have been better. There are also a lot of better actors out there that can sing that could have taken the lead roles of Sherrie and Drew.
lifelove 2012/07/18 3:37 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Good good fun. And kicked ass to Mamma Mia. Critics just like to hear the sound of their own voice. It was quite a parody and funny and the music was good. It's NOT SUPPOSED to be a carbon copy of the original songs - how could it?? Why don't people just go to movies to chill!!?
NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.