When the film version of Rock Of Ages was announced I was already sold. Then the ridiculous cast was announced and I had bought my tickets. Then the trailers came out and well, Tom Cruise was “singing”, everyone. I couldn’t have been more sold. Though, some time after the trailers had been released, my anticipation dissipated because I just found the posters and the TV spots to be a mess and completely underwhelming. I still assumed I would enjoy the movie but I wasn’t being sold anymore. But maybe I didn’t have to? There is a very large fanbase out there for this movie; the film is based on the very successful play of the same name and contains some of the most popular, well known songs of all time. Essentially, the music is the movie. I don’t really know if you can call this film an actual movie because, while it goes through the motions of being a film, it never really acts like one, but that doesn’t even matter because you’re too preoccupied trying to restrain yourself from singing every word to Every Rose Has It’s Thorn or Anyway You Want It. Why? Because this movie is – and I’m saying this acknowledging that The Avengers exists and how often this is said – the most fun you’ll have at the movies, ALL year.
There are two types of musicals and this year happens to feature both of them. There is the Oscar bait-y type (Chicago, Sound Of Music) and then there is the Summer Musical (Hairspray, Mamma Mia!). Les Miserables – which features a dying Anne Hathaway – comes out later this year and acts as our former, while Rock Of Ages is our latter. I have no doubt Les Miserables is a proper movie, and may even end up being a fantastic movie, but I doubt it will be as fun as Rock Of Ages. That statement is neither a positive nor a negative for either film, just the truth and really, I can’t describe Rock Of Ages any other way than it just being a blast.
When I mentioned to someone that I had seen the film they asked me my thoughts. I said, “It was exactly what you thought it was going to be; it’s a lot of fun, ridiculous and completely entertaining”. She responded, “But was it good?”. I thought I’d answered that but then I took a minute and asked myself that question, and to be honest, I still don’t know the answer. I know Rock Of Ages isn’t a great movie, but it’s not even trying to be. At our screening the director, Adam Shankman, presented the film. The man knows his way around an entertaining movie. He’s directed Hairspray, 17 Again and my personal favorite, Bringing Down The House (WAIT, COME BACK!). He also directed Cheaper By The Dozen 2. So, we have that. When speaking to the audience Shankman told us, with all his energy, “Just have fun! This movie was made just to simply enjoy!” and I knew that going in and that is ultimately what the film provides you with, again, a good f-cking time.
As I mentioned before, the cast is what sold me to this film. I, like many others, saw the play and I thought it was only okay. Sure, it was fun and I had a good time, but I didn’t necessarily have a blast like I did with the film. The idea is too grand to work on a small stage so when it was brought to life, I feel like the film version did the material a lot more justice. The songs are re-worked brilliantly for the film and each musical number is captivating in their own forms (Anyway You Want It is the best number, in my opinion). Not everyone has a great voice and there’s a lot of autotune happening where Tom Cruise is concerned but it really doesn’t matter because I know all the words to Wanted Dead Or Alive and I’m going to sing along regardless. The entire cast is great, but the film really belongs to the supporting cast who are all scene stealers in their own right. Alec and Russell really steal the show, but Tom Cruise gives such a fun, campy, hammed up performance it’s hard not to love it or him for doing this. Let’s just say that the way his character is presented for the first very time on screen, well, you get to see A LOT of Tom Cruise. But outside of the autotune and his campy dialogue, the man has some serious stage presence. In his many musical numbers I believed, 100%, that TOM CRUISE was a ROCK STAR. He owned that stage.
The leads are definitely overshadowed by their peers. With that said, I think this was a great showcase for newcomer Julianne Hough who held her own against the likes of Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin. Catherine Zeta Jones is also good and makes you wonder exactly what she has been doing since Chicago. Can you be just a musical (film) actor because if so she should be that and only that. And Mary J. Blige is also in this movie and while her acting is weak, her singing is great, but the best of all is that her hair gets bigger and bigger and by the end of the movie it takes over her head. And lastly, we have Paul Giamatti, another actor completely hamming it up in his role and looks to be having a blast and Malin Akerman who, for the first time, I thoroughly enjoyed. Her hilarious duet with Tom Cruise almost steals the entire movie from everyone else.
So, I’ve written almost 1000 words now and I still can’t tell you if this is a good movie. You probably hate me. You’re rolling your eyes. I honestly don’t know. I know it isn’t bad, but it has it’s moments. For example: it’s too long for it’s own good and feels a little cheap. But the source material is cheap, I mean, it features Pour Some Sugar On Me for the love of Tom Cruise!
So, it’s a cheap, dirty, cheesy, ridiculous, ROMP of a good time. It’s not a great movie, it’s not a bad movie, but it’s A VERY FUN movie. It’s a movie that is so much fun that you’ll think, why aren’t more movies made for me to just simply enjoy myself. I love Christopher Nolan, and this statement will cause many of you do be annoyed with me, but post-The Dark Knight, films have taken themselves way too seriously in hopes of being taken seriously. It’s worked for some, but for others, it simply works against. Case and point: Snow White & The Huntsman. What tries, so desperately, to be this dark, epic tale turns out to be this dry, long, boring, overcooked production that takes itself way too seriously. I will see The Dark Knight Rises. I will like and hopefully love The Dark Knight Rises but I know it won’t be fun. It’s not supposed to be fun. Rock Of Ages is a lot of fun because that is all this type of movie is supposed to be. Where Glee fails because it is attempting to be both dramatic and comedic, while never being either, Rock Of Ages knows exactly what type of film it is and is not apologizing for it.
Put down your Requiem For A Dream soundtrack and go see Rock Of Ages and just have a good time.