REVIEW: Rock of Ages
Even if you like music but hate musicals, like nostalgia but hate the 80s, like singing but hate dancing, and like Tom Cruise but hate Scientology, ‘Rock of Ages’ will find a way to win you over
After years of sold out showings and rave reviews for the stage production of ‘Rock of Ages’, the movie adaptation is finally here to bring the classic rock musical to the big screen. Directed by Adam Shankman, ‘Rock of Ages’, takes a very play-structured plot, throws in some A-List actors like Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Paul Giamatti, gets them to start singing and sees what sticks. In a summer full of robots, aliens, and superheroes, can a musical about the 80’s really stand out?
‘Rock of Ages’ opens up on the classic 80’s movie/coming of age story scene; the small town girl riding into the big city on a bus. The small town girl, Sherrie, played by Julianne Hough, kicks the movie off with a musical number as she gets into LA to achieve her dreams. Of course, she immediately runs into the city boy who she will soon fall in love with, Drew, played by Diego Boneta. After a song and a dance routine, Drew gets Sherrie a job at his place of employment, a world-famous rock venue/nightclub that, of course, the ‘bad guys’ in the movie are trying to shut down. Staying true to the plot of every play in the world, the two lovers must sing their way through the turmoil of the times as protestors try to shut down the club and bring an end to rock n’ roll forever.
So what we have with ‘Rock of Ages’ is a plot that is all too familiar, along with a theme that we’ve seen too many times. Boy meets girl, conflict is thrown their way, social messages are added to the mix, and the boy and girl must get their final kiss in before the credits role. In ‘Rock of Ages’, nothing new is brought into the formula aside from some awkward dialogue and scenes of Alec Baldwin singing. Yes, Alec Baldwin sings in ‘Rock of Ages’.
But, from the very first scene it becomes clear that ‘Rock of Ages’ is a musical first, and a movie second. While there is a nice vintage vibe to the overall look and feel of the film, the real selling point is the music. Sure, there are some good performances by Tom Cruise and the rest of the actors here, but the acting is nothing compared to the singing. And yes, the singing is amazing.
While most people wouldn’t think that Tom Cruise can sing, it turns out that not only can he sing, but he can sing pretty well. Among those in the cast that also can sing are people actually known for singing, including Hough, Boneta, and Russell Brand. While some people, like Paul Giamatti and Alec Baldwin do sing some lines, luckily for us, and presumably them, they don’t do it very often. But it is quite funny when they do.
With a vast catalogue of classic rock hits from the 70s and 80s making up the majority of this film, ‘Rock of Ages’ becomes a film where everything else fades away and the music becomes immersive, consuming, well produced, and incredibly catchy. With songs like ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ and ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ played and sung to such perfection, it becomes clear about 20 minutes in to ‘Rock of Ages’ that nothing but the music matters. Yes, there’s a story we’ve seen a hundred times, but who cares when some of the greatest songs in classic rock history are blasting through the theatre and into your ears?
Whether or not you enjoy ‘Rock of Ages’ is entirely dependent on whether or not you like classic rock, great entertainment, and a fun time at the movies. It might not have the special effects of The Avengers, the humor of The Dictator, and the Piranhas of Piranha 3DD, but ‘Rock of Ages’ has everything you need to have an unforgettable Summer Blockbuster experience. It may be cheesy and awkward, but ‘Rock of Ages’ does way more right than it does wrong, and what it does wrong doesn’t really matter.
Even if you like music but hate musicals, like nostalgia but hate the 80s, like singing but hate dancing, and like Tom Cruise but hate Scientology, ‘Rock of Ages’ will still win you over. You can try to hate this movie as much as you want, but ultimately hating ‘Rock of Ages’ is like hating a puppy dog that keeps licking you in the face and doing backflips all day long. Try as hard as you want, but this movie about a ♪ small town girl living in a lonely world will take the midnight train straight into your list of favorite movies. ♪