Waiting for the film to start, I pondered whether Rock of Ages, the smash hit Broadway show, would deliver on the silver screen. Right from Warner Bros presents, however, the party starts with hits from Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, REO Speedwagon, Twisted Sister and more. Director Adam Shankman provides a tongue-in-cheek opening that gets you in the mood to listen rather than watch the story unfold.
A love story of a small town girl, Sherrie (Julianne Hough), and city boy, Drew (Diego Boneta), both have come to LA to chase their rock‘n’roll dream. Their love story is intertwined with rock legend Stacee Jaxx’s (Tom Cruise) coming of age story arc. Sub-plotted is the Mayor and his wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), trying to abolish rock and roll altogether.
…the homo-erotic subtext…
Shankman tries his best to bring something fresh to the usual star-crossed lovers arc but it remains predictable. However, as the characters each lament their decisions through song, the background to each scene doesn’t make it clichéd. Hough and Boneta are excellent for their chemistry and make the characters believable. Although, the trouble with this kind of movie is that the characterisation of the two lovers doesn’t penetrate through the heavy metal music. Sherrie and Drew might have benefited from quieter moments.
Tom Cruise proves his versatility as the flamboyant Mr Jaxx. Plucky Rolling Stone reporter, Constance Sack (Malin Akerman), gets under Jaxx’s aging skin and hits a nerve. The rest of the cast are extraordinary; the two highlights are Catherine Zeta-Jones re-living her Chicago days and the homo-erotic subtext of Brand and Baldwin as the bar owners.
Theroux, D’Arienzo and Loeb did a wonderful job…
While the dialogue is smart and witty, it is not for the faint-hearted; well, anything with Russell Brand in it is not for the faint hearted. The well-known cast makes some surprising turns; Mary J Blige’s rendition of Anyway You Want It is one. However, when it came to the main song, Don’t Stop Believin’ there was a struggle to get Glee and the Journey original out of my head.
I was worried that the music might drown out the substance of the story but there’s just enough to keep you happy. Theroux, D’Arienzo and Loeb did a wonderful job adapting it from stage to screen with a fast-paced screenplay, even if it did leave me wanting more characterisation.