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Film Review : Rock of Ages

Jun 17, 2012 06:30AM ● By Justin Buettner

Based on a Broadway play, Rock of Ages follows a small town girl, Sherrie, and city boy, Drew, who have dreams of being rock and roll singers. The two fall in love while working at a LA bar on the sunset strip. By chance Drew finds himself opening for legendary rocker Stacie Jaxx. His performance gets the attention of a slick agent who signs Drew to a deal then puts him into a boy band. Split up by fame, Sherrie finds herself down on her luck and working as a stripper. Will the two rediscovers their dreams and each other?

Rock of Ages was like a bad two hour '80s music video that used a Glee inspired cover instead of the original artists. Perhaps if it had any real story to accompany the music it would have held my interest, but the main couple the movie attached itself to were so uninteresting that when they graced the screen I had to fight the urge to flee from the theater. The only saving grace in this film is Tom Cruise’s weird but mesmerizing performance as Stacie Jaxx.

I can’t recall an actor of Tom Cruise’s stature completely immersing themselves into a role as utterly strange as Stacie Jaxx. It truly needs to be seen to be believed, but Cruise single handedly saved Rock of Ages from being a complete disaster. It is a shame that the filmmakers didn’t scrap the rest of their lousy characters and instead followed Jaxx exclusively. The real compelling story was with the story of the legendary rock and roller and it didn’t hurt that Jaxx was so surreal and weird that you couldn’t help to give him 100% of your attention when he is on screen. Tom Cruise gave that inspired of a performance.

The rest of the film at best is forgettable and at worst ruined some of my favorite rock and roll songs from the '80s. This movie is riddled with mistakes and missed opportunities. One of the most obvious, why is Russel Brand relegated to a bar manager role when he was made to play the part of a glam hair band '80s rocker? In addition they cast Alec Baldwin, one of the funnier comedians working today, and they gave him nothing to do. The musical mash ups of songs was a mixture of strange, boring and bad. Do we need another Glee version of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’?  Why take classic glam rock songs and force them into the story anyway? Why not create new music that would propel the story better?  

The main characters of Sherrie and Drew were just boring to put it mildly. There was nothing original, entertaining or interesting about them, they were essentially stereotypes with laughably bad dialog. Every subplot in the film excluding Stacie Jaxx, was unneeded and dull. This included the head scratching inclusion of a senator’s wife’s crusade to get rock and roll removed from LA and the tired plot of bar owners losing their business only to save it in the end. Most of the film takes place in the LA bar, a terrible decision by the writers. It made the scope of the movie seem very small, when Rock N Roll should be full of excess and be larger than life. I know it was adapted from a play, but part of the point of adapting a play to film is to expand the scope of the story, to not be confined to a single stage. The filmmakers did not succeed in doing this.

Even the dancing numbers in places were annoying. The dancing church ladies had strange looks on their faces and Zeta Jones did not look comfortable dancing. The stripper musical numbers involved weird stomping that after a while just distracted me. The last thing I expected to be done poorly in a musical was the chorography and even that disappointed.  

People who are fans of this music would be better served sitting at home and rocking out to the original recordings in the comfort of their own home. I suppose if you are a fan of glam hair bands, Glee and actors doing bad karaoke then this movie will hold entertainment value for you. Tom Cruise fans will marvel at his performance of Stacie Jaxx too. The best thing I can say about Rock of Ages is at least it spared destroying classic Van Halen, Metallica, or Kiss songs that goodness. Most people will be fighting the urge to leave early, I know I did.

Films like Rock of Ages : The Rocker, Rock Star, and Detroit Rock City

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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