Ah, another stage show on the big screen so you are guaranteed some catchy tunes. Plus you have Tom Cruise as a long-haired rock star. What’s not to love?
Rock of Ages is the story of small-town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough), who travels to Hollywood to become a star. Thanks to aspiring musician/barback/love interest Drew (Diego Boneta), she is hired as a waitress at The Bourbon Club, a famous rock music concert venue, managed by Dennis Dupree and Lonny Barnett (Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand, respectively). The club is on the verge of closing and its survival depends on the last ever performance of the band Arsenal, whose frontman Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is leaving to pursue a solo career. All the while, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the ambitious Mayor’s wife, is campaigning for the closure of the club as she sees it as a ‘bad influence’.
The key of the film is nostalgia – the thing that evokes fond memories of yesteryear that essentially makes this film more than a cheesy musical. It is hard not to giggle at certain hairstyles and not to mouth to the lyrics of a certain song, so you get swept up in the fun that is Rock of Ages. The film capitalises on the soundtrack and the upbeat tempo set by Journey, Bon Jovi and Guns N’Roses is infectious.
The cast are entertaining – even though Diego Boneta, Julianne Hough and Tom Cruise collectively get the most screen time, credit has to be given to Catherine Zeta-Jones strutting her stuff like a pro whereas Mary J. Blige, Baldwin and Brand are underused. It just seems that the cast aren’t really acting – they are just singing, dancing and enjoy being part of the production, which skims over the predictable plot and cheesy dialogue.
Looking towards Broadway for inspiration for a new film is not exactly the most original idea, but it seems that director Adam Shankman has decided to stay on the stage-show-to-film-adaptation bandwagon. After the success of Hairspray (2007), as well as his choreography and directorial work on the TV show Glee, it is obvious that this is what he knows and does best. He directs the ensemble cast well and each character has their time in the limelight (the film is surprisingly not all about Tom Cruise). The whole film is colourful and bright, so there is no room for sad faces here.
Rock of Ages is fun. Sing to the songs. Laugh at the haircuts. Just don’t expect rocket science.