Movie review: Tom Cruise is the high note in so-so movie adaptation of 'Rock of Ages'
Tom Cruise stars as Stacee Jaxx in 'Rock of Ages.'
Alec Baldwin as Dennis Dupree and Russell Brand as Lonny in 'Rock of Ages.'
Julianne Hough as Sherrie Christian in 'Rock of Ages.'
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Don't stop believin' ... that Tom Cruise can play a sexy, shirtless rock god.
As Stacee Jaxx in "Rock of Ages," he struts like a peacock, his back curved like Katniss' bow and his chest puffed out, with (fake) tats across his upper back, circling his left nipple, crawling up an arm and down a bicep and in the shape of two guns that look holstered into his low-riding leather pants.
2.5 stars = Average
- Starring: Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand.
- Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, suggestive dancing, some heavy drinking and language.
Mr. Cruise steps away from short-haired action heroes in this adaptation of the Broadway musical and popular touring show and proves he can really rock out on such '80s hits as "Paradise City," "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me."
He's a high point in a movie that has more ups and downs than a clattering roller coaster, cliched characters and situations, a suggestion to a woman that pole dancing is a way to gain respect and a bromance that seems straight out of "Saturday Night Live."
Set in 1987, "Rock of Ages" wraps layers around its central relationship of small-town Oklahoma girl and aspiring singer Sherrie (Julianne Hough), who follows her dreams to Los Angeles where she meets aspiring rocker Drew (Diego Boneta). His day job is a barback at a club on the Sunset Strip, and that's where he helps Sherrie land a job as waitress.
The Bourbon Room is also the target of protests by the mayor's zealot wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who leads a band of other women in demure dresses or suits and pearls trying to shut down the place. Their campaign comes as the longtime club owner (Alec Baldwin) is banking on the final show by the band Arsenal, with loony frontman Stacee Jaxx, to save his business.
Stacee's manipulative manager (Paul Giamatti) brings in a Rolling Stone reporter (Malin Akerman) to interview Stacee as he's about to go solo, but the exchange doesn't go as planned. Also in the musical mix are Russell Brand, whose wig is almost as bad as Mr. Baldwin's, as the club's technician and rock 'n' roll cheerleader, and Mary J. Blige, who turns up as the owner of a gentlemen's club staffed with strippers.
The story is just an excuse to revisit a pop-rock playlist from the 1980s including Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, REO Speedwagon and Twisted Sister and to see how well Mr. Cruise, Ms. Hough or Mr. Baldwin sings or lip-synchs to his or her own voice. Very in the first case, not so much in the second and third.
"Rock of Ages" is not a great movie, but it's a fun summer ride even if a preview audience didn't know what to make of it when Sherrie bursts into song on a Greyhound bus in the opening scene and the driver and fellow passengers join her in Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" -- so they laughed.
(Over)use of the word "amazing" seems straight out of today's world, but movies about the 1980s always score chortles when they drag out the portable phones the size of a brick or all things boy-band related.
Adam Shankman, who made the movie musical "Hairspray," directs a screenplay by Chris D'Arienzo (who wrote the Broadway musical), Justin Theroux and Allan Loeb.
In the stage production, the club was endangered by an urban redevelopment plan championed by a German businessman and his weak-willed son, rather than the mayor's wife portrayed by Ms. Zeta-Jones, who won an Oscar for "Chicago."
Some details regarding degenerate rocker Stacee Jaxx, wide-eyed Sherrie and Drew (played in the early Broadway run and in Pittsburgh by Constantine Maroulis, who has a cameo here) also have been changed. It's hard to forget that you're watching Mr. Baldwin or Mr. Brand or Mr. Cruise, which is why Mr. Boneta as Drew is an especially fresh face and presence.
But everyone's still building a city on rock 'n' roll, even if it's modern-day Miami cheating for 1980s Hollywood and featuring a pet baboon with a cutesy name and custom wardrobe.
First Published June 15, 2012 12:00 am