‘Rock of Ages’ not for everyone
“Rock of Ages” is a musical that follows an aspiring young singer, Sherrie (Hough) on her journey from Oklahoma to Hollywood. She has hopes of becoming a star and soon finds out how hard it can be to make a living in the big city. Sherrie goes through many transformations while searching for herself.
This movie has many interwoven character-based plots that are all set to an 80s rock compilation that is very reminiscent of a bowling alley jukebox which hasn’t been updated since the introduction of the compact disc. You are led down so many paths in this movie that it is often hard to know what it is trying to say to you. The main story follows Sherrie as she learns about life and love. Another follows Drew (Boneta) as he works his way up the ranks from bartender to rocker to boy band and back to rocker. One storyline focuses on the struggling venue owner, Dennis (Baldwin) who just wants to provide a fun atmosphere where people can go to enjoy live music. Lonny (Brand) is an English rebel that is looking for love and ends up finding it in an odd place during a performance of REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” Patricia (Zeta-Jones), who plays the mayor’s wife, spearheads a church-based group of women that are trying to shut down Dennis’s venue in an effort to clean up the Sunset Strip and keep it free from sin. Paul (Giamatti) is a money-driven band manager that spends his time looking for the next big act in music so that he can exploit it and fill his pockets. Then there is, Stacee Jaxx (Cruise). Jaxx is a rock icon that is reckless, untamed and lonely. I know this sounds like a lot to follow, but it does all come together by the end of the movie.
Tom Cruise is one of the more easily recognized names in this cast. His career has spawned a very diverse set of characters. “Jerry Maguire” was a huge hit mostly due to his inspiring portrayal of the title character. Cruise’s role as Ethan Hunt in the “Mission Impossible” series has made it a noteworthy action franchise for over a decade. Stacee Jaxx in “Rock of Ages” is the very sexually explicit lead singer of the fictitious rock band, Arsenal. Jaxx is the embodiment of everything that you would imagine a rock star of that magnitude to be. He even has his own pet monkey named, Hey Man who he trained to bring him bottles of scotch when he’s thirsty. Cruise actually supplied the vocals for all of the songs that his character performed in the movie. They were surprisingly admirable. Not only does he do his own stunts, but after 4 months of professional training he does his own vocals, too.
As the crowd was leaving the theater, I noticed a lot of them singing aloud the many songs from the movie. It is infectious in every way and it is supposed to be. The director and producers want you to walk around singing these songs so that you can tie memories of them to this movie. They also want you to get them into your friends’ and coworkers’ heads as well so that they will want to go see this movie. I know that “Rock of Ages” is a musical, but so is “The Phantom of the Opera,” which I really like. For this reason, I stood back for a moment and thought of the movie without the soundtrack to lead the viewer. Would it have its own legs to carry the story along without the music? Is there any compelling dialog or acting that would make this movie something that I could see myself wanting to watch again? “The Phantom of the Opera” is very powerful. It has a great story, characters and a strong enough plot to make it wonderful even if there were no songs to accompany it. “Rock of Ages” would quickly go into the “I don’t think I ever need to see that again” pile for me.
I am not entirely sure what audience this movie is for. My first thought was the “tween” girls that are allowed to stay up late enough to catch “Glee” until I saw the barrage of sexual material on the screen. There are strip clubs, desperate groupies and a whole lot of close-up tongue action packed into these two plus hours. Then I thought that it was made for the other end of the spectrum, the forty-something guys that grew up rocking out to these tunes from Poison, Def Leppard and Guns N’ Roses. Though I don’t think they care much for the lyrics from their beloved melodies being turned into a love struck couple’s banter. It is most likely for the folks that enjoy Broadway musicals like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Movin’ Out.” This is not really the genre for me, but I can see where this clique would like it. As you may know, “Rock of Ages” is an adaptation of a musical play.