Like most people, I enjoy fun things. In fact, I might even go so far as to say I seek out things that are fun. Rock music is fun (though I couldn’t play any to save my life). Movies are fun too. So put them together into Rock of Ages and it seems like the most fun ever! The movie is based on a Broadway musical (which I haven’t seen) with slight tweaks in the plot (because it’s not on a stage) and sex (because the MPAA is stuffy) departments:
A young singer moves to LA to start a career and gets a job at one of the most popular clubs on the strip when she falls for a young rocker.
There’s more to it than that of course, but the plot is not important. The important thing is whether or not it’s fun. And it totally is! The dialogue is hilarious, the songs will make you nostalgic for the 80s (music is the only thing that could make a person nostalgic for the 80s) and you’ll be happier when you leave then when you arrived.
It’s a good thing the plot’s not that important because it makes use of a lot of clichés. Sherrie (Julianne Hough), a cute but naive blonde from Oklahoma, takes the night bus to LA to become a famous singer. During the ride she lets us get to know her by pulling out all her prized possessions (rock albums, photo of grandma with encouraging captions, etc) then gets off the bus and promptly has her suitcase stolen so that cute young rocker Drew (Diego Boneta) can rescue her.
Hey, since that douchebag stole your suitcase, maybe you should be my girlfriend?
Conveniently Drew works as some sort of general purpose bar slave at the Bourbon Room, the most famous rock club in LA, where he can get Sherri a job. Also conveniently, Drew is a talented singer/songwriter who suffers from stage fright that can be cured by a ten second throwaway comment from Sherri (followed by a lot of making out).
OMG! You’re right! It DOES help to tie scarves on the mic stand!
The problem is that the bar is going under (naturally). The club is being picketed by a group of prudes led by an uptight mayoral candidate’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and a skeezy band manager (Paul Giamatti) is snatching all the profits from big shows right out of the hands of the bar manager, Dennis (Alec Baldwin).
And would you like the shirt off my back as well, or is it just too ugly?
Said skeezy manager runs Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) the biggest, craziest, least reliable, and most miserable man in show business, so they have to put up with him if they want to get shows that draw in crowds.
I’m so famous I don’t even have to make sense anymore. Octopus nuggets!
This relates to the cute youngsters how, you might ask? Well it screws up their career trajectories when Stacee takes an interest in Sherrie and Drew gets snapped up by Stacee’s snake oil salesman/manager. Drew ends up in a ridiculous boy band (I know, “ridiculous boy band” is redundant) and Sherri ends up being a stripper, which Mary J. Blige assures her will earn her respect. Perhaps she means “respect” as a synonym for “dollar bills jammed in your panties.”
So you get oogled by creeps, but in many cultures, that’s a sign of respect.
And only tru wuv can save them, etc. etc. The leads are cute but the best parts of the movie for me were the hilarious secondary characters. Catherine Zeta-Jones and her church ladies shimmy around in pews to the tune of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and pretend not to be hot for Stacee Jaxx.
Please bone us, Stacee Jaxx, and show us the error of our ways!
Stacee himself is best described as batsh** bonkers. He wears leather pants with jewel encrusted monster codpieces, is followed by a monkey butler named Hey Man, and has an almost magical ability to make ladies’ clothes disappear.
Interesting interview technique, miss Rolling Stone reporter
And then there’s Dennis. Everything Dennis and his technical lackey/friend Lonny (Russell Brand) say is hilarious, and that’s before they even start singing REO Speedwagon to each other in the middle of the bar.
DENNIS: “What are you thanking me for? I just ruined your life.”
LONNY: “Why would the devil be involved in CLOSING a vagina?”
Alec Baldwin can’t sing, but what’s surprising is that Tom Cruise can. He belts out Bon Jovi ballads like… well, Bon Jovi, which makes me suspect he’s got some sort of mystical acting superpower that allows him to mimic anything for large amounts of money. Perhaps his next role will be as a lawn chair or maybe even a Siberian tiger.
So in short, I enjoyed myself immensely. I got to listen to the songs I liked as a kid while simultaneously watching attractive people with hilarious haircuts and ripped clothing jump around like lunatics on a stage covered in flashing lights and almost brain each other with mic stands. And I didn’t even have to hang out with a bunch of tools who smoked up before the show and/or screamed my eardrums out after every song. Now that’s what I call fun!