“Rock Of Ages”
By MICHAEL WALTERS
I saw a touring production of the hit Broadway musical “Rock Of Ages” last year and hated it. Not just mild dislike, I hated, hated, hated this show so much I very nearly walked out at intermission. So imagine my surprise when I actually found myself kind of enjoying the feature film version.
In jukebox musicals like this one,the only object is to engender nostalgia and get the audience to sing along with songs they already know by heart. It doesn’t have an ounce of originality or a thought in its head, but this ode to 80′s hair bands does its job.
The story, what there is of it, centers on a legendary L.A. Rock club called the Bourbon Room. It’s owner (Alec Baldwin) owes back taxes and puts all his bets on one final show by 80′s rock titans Arsenal to save his business. Tom Cruise seems to have the most fun playing an Axl Rose type reclusive certifiably wacko rock god. While Catherine Zeta Jones is certifiably naughty as a Tipper Gore like scold who wants to shut the club down.
“Rock Of Ages’” weakest link is the story, although Baldwin, Zeta Jones, and Russell Brand (as Baldwin’s right hand man) do a fitful job of at least making the time go by. The same cannot be said for the two young lovers at the center. Julianne Hough is a small town girl fresh off the bus looking to break into the biz and become a star. While the bland Diego Bonita stars as Drew/Wolfgang Von Colt, a bartender at the Bourbon looking for his big break. My four month old twins could tell you what happens next with a setup like that.
But no one goes to this movie for the story, they’re there for the songs. And on that note the movie delivers. Even though it doesn’t make much sense I did enjoy watching Zeta Jones sing along to Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” in a church. The songs are all vibrantly staged with just enough nods to their cheesy, 80′s roots. It’s a delightfully frothy guilty pleasure provided you can still hold your head high after singing along to Night Ranger, Bon Jovi, and Poison for nearly two hours.