Rock of Ages features music from several iconic 80s rock bands such as Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, and Twisted Sister. And that’s just about all it features.
Adam Shankman’s story of a small town girl (Sherrie played by Julianne Hough) meeting a city boy (Drew played by Diego Boneta), while both pursue their musical dreams, isn’t quite a film. The threadbare plot is primarily filled with a love story weaved into countless musical numbers – most of which don’t progress the story at hand.
Based of a Broadway play of the same title, the original Rock of Ages supposedly focused more on the possible closing of the Bourbon, the mecca bar for rock ‘n’ roll located on the Sunset strip.
In the film, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand play the owners of the beloved rock palace. Unfortunately, every time the story gravitates towards their corner, Shankman quickly shifts back to another inconsequential song and dance routine, ultimately followed by overacting by our leading stars.
The antagonist of the film (I mention this so late because, well, the film often forgets about the conflict) is Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Patricia Whitmore. Whitmore, wife of the mayor played Bryan Cranston, wishes to relinquish the city from rock ‘n’ roll, “cleaning up the streets” for their children. Her whole character is an odd contradiction considering she attempts to abolish rock ‘n’ roll by singing rock ‘n’ roll. Moving on.
Tom Cruise unquestionably plays his best role in years as Stacee Jaxx, a self-destructive worn down rocker who feels imprisoned by both his past and his genre. Malin Akerman as a Rolling Stone journalist and Paul Giamatti as a shady agent representing Jaxx and Drew, both provide some affable performances.
All of this amount to very little though. Put all the brilliant actors you want into the film. If there isn’t a story to be told, then there’s nothing to propel these characters to do anything interesting.
Rock of Ages wholly succeeds as a two hour-long music video. I suspect for many, rehashing 80s rock is enough to compensate the ticket price. However, with so much talent involved, this film should be infinitely better.
Adam Shankman’s 10th film isn’t necessarily a poor piece of work it just isn’t a movie. Most of all, it goes on and on and on.