It’s 1987. Sherrie (Julianne Hough) moves from the midwest to Hollywood to start a career as a singer. When she gets there, she finds it’s not as magical as she thought. She meets Drew (Diego Boneta). Drew is an aspiring singer who works at The Bourbon Room, a once famous bar run by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand).
The Bourbon Room is on the verge of financial ruin. Its one chance at regaining its former glory is Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). Stacee is an unstable rock star, who was made famous by the bar. If he can actually show up for the performance, it would put The Bourbon Room back on the map.
Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston) was just elected mayor. His wife, Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is going to help him clean up the town. Her immediate focus is shutting down The Bourbon Room, primarily targeting Stacee Jaxx.
Based on the musical of the same name, Rock of Ages is an 80s musical. Complete with mash-ups of all the big 80s songs. As such, it feels like an 80s musical. From the way it was shot to the writing and acting. It just feels like an 80s movie all around. It doesn’t have the huge blockbuster feel that most movies have today. And it’s a musical. If you go in with this in mind, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time. If you enjoy musicals.
It was commented to me that it has a very Glee-like feel to it. And on some level that’s true. However, it must be noted that the person who made this comment didn’t grow up in the prime of the era. A good portion of the musical talent is on par with Glee. But the movie transcends that. For my generation, at least. And there is a chance that the movie would have been even less successful were it not for the popularity of Glee. But there is a definite generation gap in the audiences of the two. It should also be noted that the Rock of Ages musical premiered in 2005. Glee would not come along for another four years.
The 80s were a time when rock stars were rock stars. They were eccentric. They lived a wild life. Not like the “musicians” of today. This movie really plays up the lifestyle.
Alec and Russell play well of each other. Julianne and Diego, well, they feel like they are early in their acting careers. With good reason. They’re young. They’ve got time to develop themselves. Paul Giamatti does an excellent job as Stacee’s manager. It’s the same type of shady character he always plays. (I don’t think he will ever get cast as a protagonist. But, hey. He’s good at what he does.) Catherine Zeta-Jones is alright. She comes off as a little cheesy, but not terrible.
And then there’s Tom Cruise. I’ve tried to not like the guy. But, really, he pretty much excels at just about anything he does. And this is no exception. He’s got the Stacee Jaxx character down perfectly. He is the iconic 80s rock star. Everything about Cruise’s performance is spot on. There’s not much the guy can’t do.
There are a couple of cheesy scenes. One’s which bring the movie down a notch. The first is one you’ve seen in the previews with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the church. It’s just trying to hard. The other, well, I’ll let you figure that one out. It’s a bit out of character for the time, in my opinion. A love song duet between two of the main characters. It’s ok for comedic purposes. But just didn’t work for me.
If you grew up during the high times of the 80s, and you don’t mind musicals, you should enjoy this. I know I did. The soundtrack, while “Glee-ified,” is awesome. It’s all the songs you grew up with, so you know and love them all. I give it a little more credit than most of the reviews I’ve read. And more credit than the box office gave it. It’s good, mindless, 80s fun. Give it a shot. I would, however, recommend leaving the kids at home for this one. While there’s nothing too outrageous, the sexual overtones might be a bit much.