Rock Of Ages *****
ADAM Shankman’s musical comedy, Rock of Ages, certificate 12A, shouldn’t have been such an enjoyable watch. But with its rock filled jukebox soundtrack, it is hard not to resist the film’s charm.
At over two hours long, the feature does feel a little long. But with a film that features, great tracks from rock bands like Journey, Whitesnake, Foreigner and Pat Benatar it’s easy to lose yourself in the film’s music.
Starring alongside Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta is a truly stellar cast, worthy of headlining any film themselves. Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti and Catherine Zeta Jones all feature. Tom Cruise gives a fantastic performance as troubled rocker, Stacee Jaxx. Musician Mary J Blige also features.
The film’s plot sees Julianne Hough’s small town girl and Diego Boneta’s city boy, living in a lonely world. The two meet on the Sunset strip on Hollywood, together they pursue their rock and roll dreams and ambitions. Their story is intertwined with the fate of the infamous, Bourbon nightclub and rock star, Stacee Jaxx.
Shankman’s feature is an adaptation of Chris D Arienzo’s 2006 Broadway musical of the same name. The director is right at home within the feature, the former dancer and choreographer manages to include some wonderfully choreographed musical numbers. In many ways the film feels like a long succession of several music videos than an actual coherent feature film. One memorable scene sees a brilliant rendition of Journey’s, Anyway You Want it, by Mary J Blige and Julianne Hough at a strip club.
Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand put in strong comedic performances. Although Brand’s bizarre Liverpool accident is a little off putting at times. The two make a great double act as Dennis Dupree and Lonny Bennett, the management team of the Bourbon club. They have a great chemistry, leading to a memorable rendition of I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore.
Welsh actress, Catherine Zeta Jones is in her element throughout the film. Playing Patricia Whitmore the religious and deeply conservative wife of the city’s Mayor. She holds a deeply guarded secret from her past that connects her to rocker, Staccee Jaxx. Her character is determined to clean up the Sunset Strip and close the Bourbon down. Jones competently holds her own within the feature, having won both an Oscar and Golden Globe in 2002, for her performance as Velma Kay in the musical Chicago.
But the biggest surprise is Tom Cruise, as Stacee Jaxx. His character is a mash up of some of the greatest front men in rock’s history. Elements of Axl Rose, Steven Tyler and Iggy Pop all are on display throughout the film. Surprisingly the actor has some solid vocals that compliment his deliciously over the top performance. His version of Foreigner’s classic, I Wanna Know What Love is, alongside Mallin Akerman’s young Rolling Stones reporter was probably my favourite moment in the film.
I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a good musical. While some elements of this film might have worked better on the stage, rather than on the big screen. But overall, I was a pleasantly surprised by this film, Rock of Ages doesn’t take itself too seriously and I would recommend going to see this film on the big screen. Much like the 2008 feature, Mamma Mia, the film is one to be enjoyed with a group of friends.
Review by William McClean