Adam Shankman’s next foray into the musical genre is a revival of the famous 2006 musical of the same title. Rock of Ages is set during the rock and roll era of the late 80s and features songs popularized by Journey, Bon Jovi, Poison, Steve Perry, and other rock and roll legends.
It was 1987 when we witnessed young country girl Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) travel to Los Angeles to follow her dreams. There, she met barback Drew Boley (Diego Bonneta) who helped her land a job at Dennis Dupree’s (Alec Baldwin) bar. Meanwhile, Drew’s idol Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) gets to perform at The Bourbon’s bar while conservative Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta Jones) protests against Stacey’s performance. This interconnected story added with more additional story lines and glitz and glamour numbers comprise the whole film.
Adam Shankman films usually does not require any thinking at all. It is not necessary to bring your brains when you enter the cinema. This works in his favor though, as he tends to focus more on the glitz and the glamour and the big throw away scene in his films (see: Hairspray). Rock of Ages follows the same path as the above, but this benefits more because of the music that they incorporated in the film. It is very difficult to hate on the film once More Than Words, We Built This City, or Every Rose Has Its Thorn play on the background. With that said, I won’t totally give it a free pass. There are times when it tends to fall into Glee territory especially with the overload of Julianne Hough-Diego Boneta love angle.
The ensemble is very entertaining though. There are too many scene stealers in the film, and I like that everyone has their own moment. The chemistry between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand seems to be the crowd favorite, and you can see how much they’re enjoying their roles. That says a lot especially since I’m no fan of anything that Russell Brand has ever done. Another favorite is Catherine Zeta Jones who was wacky and over the top which is is a guarantee that it will work since Adam Shankman is helming it. May J. Blige is certified eksenadora in any way you look at it. Whether it’s her outfits, her singing, and her delivery, she seems to want to own all the scenes she is in. Tom Cruise’s Stacey Jaxx is probably the most awaited character in the movie, and Cruise (Scientology jokes aside) is at his best when he gets to enjoy the roles given to him (i.e Tropic Thunder). Diego Boneta was charming enough as the wanna be rocker who ended up in a road that he never imagined. The weakest link is Julianne Hough who I can’t figure but seems to be trying too hard and lacks the natural appeal of the female lead. In the words of Legally Blonde, “she seems to be too blonde” for the role.
Rock of Ages is in no way life changing or Oscar level. The biggest factor that works in its benefit is the fact that it is highly entertaining, and that (together with the music) gives more than enough satisfaction for the readers to enjoy the film.