Best Movies of All Time + Tom Cruise



"This place is about to become a sea of sweat, ear-shattering music and puke."

-- Dennis Dupree
Rock of Ages is a 2012 dramatic musical film directed by Adam Shankman that serves as a big-screen adaptation of the off-Broadway musical of the same name. The film opens in 1987 with Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) on a bus from her native Oklahoma to Los Angeles, where she hopes to find fame and fortune. Shortly after arriving, however, she's mugged and finds herself lost and nearly penniless. Enter young aspiring singer Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) who manages to get her a job at a popular nightclub called The Bourbon Room. The famed venue, however, has hit a recent string of financial troubles, and owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and his partner Lonny (Russell Brand) are desperately trying to keep the Bourbon Room afloat all while dealing with the ultra-right-wing wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) of the city mayor. In a bit of luck, they manage to book the final performance of a band called Arsenal, which is fronted by superstar rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). As the night of the massive performance draws near, however, relationships between each of the characters begin to strain, causing a massage amount of upheaval inside The Bourbon Room.

I would like to start by saying that, while I have long wanted to see Rock of Ages in its stage incarnation, I have never had the opportunity. Therefore, I went into the film version a little bit blind, seeing the storyline for the first time. All I knew entering the film was that it was all about rock 'n roll and that Tom Cruise was supposedly going to sing. And always being up for a bit of rock music, I figured I'd have a excellent time. Cue the "Bill & Ted" guitar riff.

Unfortunately, Rock of Ages is missing a few notes here and there. One of the biggest problems with the film is that we're getting a rather humdrum screenplay that's about as predictable as you can get. From the opening scene, we know exactly what direction the film is headed, and that takes a little bit away from the film. If the audience knows how the film's going to end, then what's the point of enjoying the ride? Sometimes the ride is enough to keep a viewer engaged, but if we're simply going off the storyline and the plot devices, then Rock of Ages is sinking, and sinking fast.

Also, we're not getting a ton of help from the cast, at least in terms of their acting. Despite the fact that the film holds an all-star cast, I couldn't really find anything terribly redeeming about the acting portion of the performances. Our film's leads - Hough and Boneta - are both a little too laughable from time to time, and they manage to chew the scenery just a little too much. Cruise is decent, but it's nowhere near his best on-screen role. And to be honest, it was a little bit strange seeing him portray sexual rock 'n roll god. He's never been an overt sex symbol during his career, and to have him try to bring that to the table at his current age just seems a little bit weird. We get a bit of nice interplay between Brand and Baldwin, who probably offer the film's best performances. And still, they're only serviceable. Even great actors like Paul Giamatti and Bryan Cranston can't bring this film any higher. Also be on the watch for decent bit pieces from Malin Akerman and Mary J. Blige, as well as cameos from Will Forte, Eli Roth and T.J. Miller.

Now, I only said that the acting portions of the cast's performances were a little lackluster. Where Rock of Ages does manage to excel is in its soundtrack, and each of the performers brings their A-game for that part of the film. I was thoroughly impressed with Hough and Boneta as our stars, and even Cruise manages to bust out a few songs relatively well. Brand, as you may already know, is a fantastic singer, and his bits are glorious indeed. Even Baldwin and Giamatti manage to sing a few lines here and there, and it works to a nice effect. However, the real glory I think belongs to Boneta, who proves to be - arguably - the best singer of the bunch, and he has some of the most opportunity to belt it out. He even manages to overshadow Hough, which is surprising considering she's also very good. Overall, the soundtrack is fantastic, and I thought that some of the song mash-ups worked relatively well.

At the end of the day, however, Rock of Ages simply isn't that great of a film. It has a shoddy screenplay and weak character development, and normally, that would be enough to doom any movie. However, with a stellar soundtrack like this one has, it's tough not to have fun with Rock of Ages. Anyone who's a fan of this particular genre of rock 'n roll is going to get caught up in the emotion of the songs, and that might lead a viewer to believe they're having an emotional connection with the film. I'd bet that won't be the case, seeing as if you take away the music, then this film's about as devoid of emotion as you can get. It's the music that proves to be the glue in the film, keeping it together just long enough to keep the audience entertained from start to finish.

Movie Review SummaryGrade: CShould You Watch It? Maybe

2012, Adam Shankman, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Diego Boneta, drama, Julianne Hough, Malin Akerman, Mary J Blige, movie review, musical, Paul Giamatti, Rock of Ages, Russell Brand, and more:

Relevant to: ROCK OF AGES + Tom Cruise