Review: Rock of Ages
It took me only the opening musical number of the over-exuberant tribute to 80’s hair-metal “Rock of Ages” to completely accept that the cynic in me was going to have to sit this one out. Once you have a bus-full of people singing along to “Sister Christian” while practically winking at the camera the whole time, you can’t really claim you haven’t been warned. Thus, if you enjoy excessively silly, balls-to-the-wall gleeful ridiculousness, boy oh boy do I have a film for you! Luckily for the rest of us, it happens to be filled with a lot of damn catchy tunes as well. The film does overstay its welcome (at least in the extended cut Iwatched), but those songs will keep you going. Needless to say, if you do not enjoy 80’s rock, stay far, far away.
Having said all that, are you still on the fence? Allow me to help you decide if this is your idea of a good time.
Would you enjoy watching a man sing the yearning ballad of the movie while urinating in a bathroom next to a passed out Russel Brand?
How about seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones as an uptight crusader against all things rock, leading a group of equally conservative middle-aged women in a gyration-filled showstopper of “Hit me with your best shot” inside a church?
Would it interest you more if I told you that during this Walt from Breaking Bad was in the next room over, bent over a table in his underwear, being spanked with a ruler?
Alright, alright, but who could resist jokes such as the moment our main character shows the love interest a song he’s “working on”, proceeds to sing the first few lines of “Don’t Stop Believin”, and then stops abruptly, claiming it just “goes on and on and on”?
This is a movie that goes from cliched date-movie tropes to raunchy soft-core strip teases, often in the same scene. It’s a movie featuring lines like “When my hamster died, your music really helped me through.” Tom Cruise as the Axel Rose-inspired has-been still-is rock god is a sight to behold, and it somehow grows on you. It really does help if you like cheesy bands like REO Speedwagon, though.
What holds everything back is the absolutely dopey emotional scenes. Any time the movie takes a break from the full-scale musical numbers and tries to tell a story the old-fashioned way, it’s full of bland acting and non-stop cliches. It’s all done with a sort of earnest “We know what we are doing is ridiculous, just go with it!” attitude as many musicals, but again, thank god they chose to make this one about a fun era in pop music. After all, it ain’t looking for nothin’ but a good time.