To describe ‘Rock of Ages’ I’m going to need to use various synonyms for cheesy, because that was the main thought going through my mind while I watched the film. The music rocks, there’s no doubt about that; everything else around it wasn’t good enough to classify this as a good musical. I unfortunately haven’t seen the Broadway musical this film is based on, but I’m not afraid to guarantee that it’s probably better than this film adaptation.
The film is set in 1987 in Los Angeles where a small town girl, Sherrie (Julianne Hough) comes hoping to begin her singing career, shortly after arriving she ends up in the Bourbon Room, a famous rock club where she meets Drew (Diego Boneta). Drew begs the club’s owner, Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) to give Sherri a waitressing job, thanks to Lonny (Russell Brand) Dennis’ right hand he decides to give the girl a chance. The Bourbon Room is at risk when religious groups led by the Major (Bryan Cranston) and his wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) threaten to close it down, specially when rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) shows up to perform with his group –Arsenal- one last time. With L.A. as a stage this group of people try to lead their lives surrounded by rock n roll from the likes of Def Leppard, Journey, Foreigner, etc.
It looked like most of the actors in this movie were just lip-synching, which whether that’s the case or not that made it hard to enjoy it as a musical. My favorite acts though were seeing Boneta on stage as well as Cruise; they rocked the house in and out of the screen. Their acting as well as everyone else’s was pretty questionable though. Cruise’s character is eccentric and entertaining with his overly macho jockstraps and tattoos, his rockstar act though might be right on, with his short attention span it was hard to follow or understand. I’m not sure if I was annoyed at Hough’s character or at herself, neither her voice nor her acting were convincing; sure she’s stunning, but that wasn’t enough.
I would like to say that our young Mexican actor, Boneta, was fabulous, but except for a couple of good singing skits his acting was like seeing a puppy follow commands. Boneta is one of the main characters, so he had a glorious amount of screen time, despite of that he didn’t shine except for his first singing opening number (clip below) as well as his closing number. He definitely has potential to carry over his heartthrob skills from his Rebelde days; there is some chemistry between Hough and him, but it wasn’t exploded to the point of making believable their fairytale story.
Baldwin and Brand presented some funny scenes, but their main act is actually offensive. The movie began dragging after the first act, perhaps because of the various montages; I was ready for it to finish around the first hour (It’s two hours). The corniness of the film just kept escalating until it reached a level of ridiculous.
I can honestly say I really enjoy musicals and was disappointed by the result of this star-studded film. Even though director Adam Shankman also made ‘Hairspray’, another Broadway hit musical into a film filled with Hollywood A-listers and was well received he didn’t achieve the same with this one. With that said I suggest you save your pennies and go see the musical on Broadway, I’m sure you will be satisfied and entertained then.
Check out Mexican actor Diego Boneta “rocking out” in ‘Rock of Ages’ in the video below.