One of the hardest things to adapt to the screen, besides video games, is a musical. Sure, there have been the mega successes, a la Chicago. But for every musical best picture winner there’s a Mamma Mia! starring a most likely tone deaf Pierce Brosnan. So, when I heard they were adapting Rock Of Ages into a movie, I didn’t place my expectations anywhere. It certainly wasn’t going to be anything like Chicago, but then again, it could still be a hell of a lot better than Mamma Mia! (isn’t anything?). I mean, with such a great cast, could Rock Of Ages possibly go wrong? The answer to that question is yes, it certainly can. Rock of Ages follows Drew a wanna-be rocker who falls for a girl named Sherrie, another wanna-be singer and their experiences in the music industry in LA in 1987.
The cast of Rock Of Ages looks good on a billboard. Scratch that, they look great on a billboard. You got Tom
Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Russell Brand, and Alec Baldwin. They are all front and center in the billboards that have been plaguing Los Angeles for weeks now, with the tagline reading: Nothin’ But A Good Time. Unfortunately, the marketing materials are about the only thing these actors are front and center in for Rock Of Ages. Taking the lead roles are Diego Boneta and Footloose star Julianne Hough. I usually don’t like to trash people too much in my reviews, but it should be a known fact that Boneta, in the one-dimensional lead role of Drew, can’t act. Hough is a little better, given she has more experience, but if a role is like a dinner plate, and what matters is what’s put on that plate by the chef, she was given an empty platter of a character with Sherrie. Beyond that, the two share very little chemistry, and even if they did click, it wouldn’t have mattered simply because these characters are annoying stock characters taken out of every High School Musical-type movie you’ve ever seen. The problem is these people are front and center. They are our leads. In the case of this film, it’s the supporting roles that serve the best parts of this film. Paul Giamatti, Russell Brand, and Alec Baldwin are good and entertaining as ever, with Tom Cruise hitting a home run in another weird supporting role as Stacee Jaxx, who shows up about 20 minutes into the film, and saves it from the unprecedented disaster that it was in its bizarre opening scene (let me just say: “Sister Christian” isn’t a song that translates well to screen). When Cruise is on screen, it’s like a bizarre but highly entertaining spectacle. However, there’s another actor, who if you’re a TV fan, will be very recognizable for you, who makes an appearance in this and delivers the weirdest scene in a movie that I’ve seen in a long time. This happens for no apparent reason.
The story in this film is thin and over-abundant, and that’s the best thing I can say about it. There’s too many subplots and a lot of them don’t really get wrapped up the way the could, and the main “conflict” of the film really could’ve been solved with a different choice of words, so it’s painfully frustrating to watch something so lazy serve as the basis for what is basically a string of music videos for great songs. And that is all, in the end, that Rock Of Ages is. It’s a bunch of music videos for genuinely great and entertaining songs that will have you tapping to the beat at some point or another.
The problem is that this is a movie, not a VH1 Marathon. I can see the music videos for all these songs on the internet and I certainly don’t need them in a frenetic, over-crowded mess that tries to have talented actors pass off one-dimensional characters in one-dimensional story arcs as good.
Of course, in the end, like anybody else who will see this movie, I was entertained at some points. It was mainly Cruise and the wonderful 80’s music that caused said entertainment, and while they were good, it wasn’t enough to overlook the oddities that fill Rock Of Ages bloated, clichéd, and frankly lazy script.
FINAL GRADE: C+
FINAL SAY: It boasts a strong supporting cast and fun songs, but Rock Of Ages suffers from poor lead characters and a thin, convoluted plot under all the 80’s glamour.