Do You Wanna Rock?

14 Jun

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you do it.

So much more than simply Glee for Grownups, the big-screen version of Rock of Ages features a cast of big-name stars (mostly) letting out their inner rock gods and giving audiences what may be the most fun movie of the summer.

I mean, what else do you expect from a movie that’s set in 1987 on the seedy side of the Sunset Strip, and features actors like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Paul Giamatti, and Russell Brand singing classic cheesy hair-metal songs by Whitesnake, Poison, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and others?

I’m not sure I’d say “it don’t get better than this,” but if you’re looking for “nothin’ but a good time,” then Rock of Ages is damn near close to, yes, Paradise City.

Based on the Tony-nominated Broadway musical (which I’ve never seen), Rock of Ages tells the story of small-town girl Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough, making us all wish we were Ryan Seacrest), who meets and falls in love with a city boy named Drew (Diego Boneta). Naturally, the two both want to be singers. (And yes, “Don’t Stop Believin'” does figure into the storyline.)

Sherrie and Drew work at the Bourbon Room, which is owned by Dennis Dupree (Baldwin), and managed by his right-hand man, Lonny Barnett (Brand). The club is going through some hard times, and it seems not even a big show by superstar Stacee Jaxx (Cruise, surprising and impressive) will be able to save it.

Jaxx is about to leave his band, Arsenal, and embark on a solo career, but not before giving an interview to a Rolling Stone reporter (Malin Akerman, whoa). And there’s also a plotline involving the mayor (Bryan Cranston) and his wife (Zeta-Jones) trying to shut the club down.

The whole thing’s got its share of corn (“Sister Christian” will test your tolerance early on, as may Zeta-Jones’ church-set “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”), the music doesn’t always fit the storyline, the plot is kinda silly at times (though it could have been worse), and some scenes are more theatrical than they are rough and raw.

But despite all that, it just works. Adam Shankman, who directed Hairspray five years ago, proves he’s a go-to guy when you want to turn a Broadway musical into a big, slick, happy (minus the jazz hands) movie. I can’t remember the last film I saw where I smiled this often.

The performances are good, the girls are hot (wowza), there are lots of laughs (mostly involving Baldwin and Brand), and the singing’s surprisingly good (not blast-it-out-your-windows good, but not embarrassing to listen to either). Clearly, working on the film was a blast, and that completely translates to the screen.

It’s worth noting that Mary J. Blige takes all the music up to a whole ’nother level when she shows up a little more than halfway in as the owner of a strip club. Girl can sing the phone book and make it sound amazing. Here, Mary J. makes Quarterflash, Pat Benatar, and Journey sound better than they ever have.

And look out for quick cameos from the likes of Sebastian Bach, Debbie Gibson, Constantine Maroulis (who was nominated for a Tony for playing Drew on Broadway), Eli Roth, Derek Hough, and many others.

Seeing Rock of Ages is not like going to an authentic rock concert. This is a film where “Every Rose Has Its Thorns” is sung when the characters are having their big emotional breakthrough, and the big dramatic climax is set to a mashup of “We Built This City” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” It’s that kind of movie.

If you grew up with this music, you’re gonna love it. If not, well, how much of it can you stand?

Either way, the real question is … Are you ready to rock?

I’m giving Rock of Ages a B+.

Have you seen Rock of Ages, or are you gonna skip it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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2 Responses to “Do You Wanna Rock?”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 25 Things I Learned This Summer « Martin's Musings - August 31, 2012

    […] 2. So does Mary J. Blige. […]

  2. 21 Things I’m Not Apologizing For « Martin's Musings - September 24, 2012

    […] 4. Enjoying Rock of Ages […]

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