ROCK OF AGES
Running Time: 123 minutes
Cast: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Adam Shankman
Screenplay: Justin Theroux, Allan Loeb & Chris D’Arenzo
Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli
Rock of Ages is a cinematic adaptation of a Broadway show, much like Shankman’s previous outing, Hairspray. It’s set in the gaudy ‘80s and the whole film is just like the decade it’s set in: shiny, bombastic, utterly lacking in any real substance, but kind of fun anyway.
The story is simple: smalltown girl heads for the bright lights of LA, meets boy who shares her dream and falls in love. There are inevitable complications, but everyone lives happily ever after. The film is set around a rock club called the Bourbon. It’s struggling and the mayor’s wife, an evangelical Christian (played with scenery chomping gusto by Catherine Zeta-Jones), is determined to shut it down. It’s up to eccentric rocker Stacee Jaxx to save the club and keep rock music on the strip.
Tom Cruise really steals the show as the debauched Jaxx. Part Axl Rose, part his own portrayal of the Vampire Lestat, Jaxx is creepily sexy and his chemistry with the tightly laced Rolling Stone reporter trying to interview him is incredible.
It’s a shame then, that there is so little chemistry between the two young leads. Both have good singing voices, but their performances are shallow and unconvincing. Even Russell Brand (who I despise) manages to shine in comparison to these two. In fact, the pair are so forgettable, when looking back at the film, I barely remember any scene they were in.
Shame, because despite its over the top nature, this is a fun film. There are no surprises (well, maybe one involving Alec Baldwin’s character, but I won’t spoil it), nothing challenging and it finishes exactly the way you knew it would from the first scene. Yet it is enjoyable, and if, like me, you grew up in the eighties, you’ll know every song and be able to sing along.
I can’t recommend it as a great piece of cinema, but as a guilty pleasure, you probably couldn’t do better than this one.