Rock of Ages is the highly anticipated film adaption of the Broadway glam-rock musical, which sees Tom Cruise play a rock-star Stacee Jaxx. The casting of Cruise is probably the main enticement of the film, and possibly it’s savior.
The film follows a young innocent Sherrie [Julianne Hough] who has moved to LA to follow her dream of becoming a singer. She befriends Drew [Diego Boneta], a bartender/singer in the infamous Bourbon Club, the original home of rock n’ roll, who secures her a job there and the two fall quickly in love. The Bourbon club is run by Dennis [Alec Baldwin] and sidekick Lonny [Russell Brand], who have deduced that by staging Stacee Jaxx’s last ever concert they can save their club from financial ruin and the threats of the conservative, anti-rock group headed by Patricia Whitmore [Catherine Zeta Jones].
The plot then rollercoasters in numerous directions, undecided on whether to focus on the new found love of Sherrie and Drew; the sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle versus conservatism; or the struggles of a washed up rock star. This results in a disorganized, underdeveloped plot, which parallels with the constant mix of musical medleys. Taking songs from bands like Styx, Bon Jovi, Foreigner and naturally Journey, and blending them together, in a very unnecessary way just contributes to the mix up. Too many songs, while well performed, were just irrelevant and unnecessary.
Added to this, the two hour long film is unable to develop enough of the characters in its huge cast, take Mary J. Blige’s character Justice, the owner of the gentlemen’s club where Sherrie gets a job. It seems her sole purpose is to hit the higher notes in songs.
The film is completely reliant on the A-list cast, and in general they do manage some salvation. Cruise delivers a convincing and genuinely humorous performance as the rock-god, particularly his rendition of Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive, a role he may not have even had a look in without Tropic Thunder. Brand is surprisingly good, his comedic styling well suited to his character’s rock and roll attitude.
Overall the film falls flat due to it’s lost plot and contradicting ideas but provides light entertainment and some genuinely funny moments from an excellent cast. In general, a disappointing attempt at what could have been a really excellent film musical.