by Rick Grant
This stage musical adapted to film is goofy enough to be wildly entertaining. The film is a glorious parody of itself. Indeed, the work brandishes so many cliches, they cancel each other out. Ultimately, the film version is over-the-top funny as the hair bands of the 1980s supply their rock anthems to the soundtrack.
The film opens with the typical small town girl, Sherie (Julianne Hough) on a bus to Hollywood to pursue her dreams of singing in a band. Suddenly, Sherie burst out in song and her fellow passengers become her back up singers. Then the viewer knows this is going to be a corny trip into fantasy land.
When Sherie arrives in Los Angeles, she is thrust into a seedy world of prostitutes, hustlers, and other LA street scum. There she meets Drew (Diego Boneta) who is a waiter at the famous rock venue on the Strip called The Bourbon Room. This showcase club is run by Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and his partner, Lonny (Russell Brand).
The Bourbon Room is under fire by the Mayor (Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame). His wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is on a Christian moral crusade to close down the devil’s den of rock’n’roll.
Tom Cruise hams it up with his over-zealous Jim Morrison impression as Stacee Jaxx Yes, this whiskey gulping caricature is the quintessential booze-addled narcissist. Jaxx is interviewed by a girl from Rolling Stone Magazine, Constance (Malin Akerman). She tries to stay demure but ends up falling under Jaxx’s spell. Yes, it’s so predictable, again, everyone sings.
Directed by Adam Shankman using his excellent scene-craft to give each character much more depth than the stage production. Each song was a major hit during the 1980s. Viewers of a certain vintage will sing along with these radio worn ditties from a multitude of hair bands.
The way this movie is shot, it’s more like a string of music videos with a trite storyline. However, it’s a riotous good time with many laughs. Those who remember the words to those hair band hits, don’t be embarrassed. Some of the songs are actually memorable.
Alec Baldwin is funny with his guy pal Russell Brand who stands out with his special “brand” of humor. Paul Giamatti is great, of course, and Malin Akerman nails the Rolling Stone reporter who couldn’t resist the hunk of burning love with the smell of whiskey on his breath.
Rock of Ages Movie Review
by Rick Grant