Sherrie Christian, a young girl from Oklahoma, has decided to go out to Hollywood to make it as a singer. Upon her arrival, she is robbed and feels helpless. To her rescue, Drew Boley appears and offers her an opportunity to work at the infamous Bourbon Club. With an upcoming performance by Stacee Jaxx poised to bring the Bourbon Club back to prominence, the recently elected mayor and his wife are set on cleaning up the streets of Los Angeles, starting with Bourbon. In the days leading up to the big performance, Sherrie and Drew blossom in their romance and feel like all is perfect in the world. With the arrival of Stacee Jaxx, their worlds are shaken up. Drew gets his big break and rocks the house. Sherrie checks in on Stacee and is misinterpreted by Drew to have slept with the rock god. The night ends with the pair splitting into divergent paths, the Bourbon in trouble due to shady dealings and Patricia’s march of purity strengthening against rock & roll.
Starring: Diego Boneta (Drew Boley), Julianne Hough (Sherrie Christian), Tom Cruise (Stacee Jaxx), Alec Baldwin (Dennis Dupree), Russell Brand (Lonny), Bryan Cranston (Mayor Mike Whitmore), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Patricia Whitmore), Paul Giamatti (Paul Gill), Malin Akerman (Constance Sack), Mary J. Blige (Justice Charlier), Angelo Valderrama (Chico), Erica Frene (Beth)
While the acting overall was fairly decent, the more important element was the singing. Tom Cruise garnered the most obvious attention due to his role in the film and his status as an actor, but he was actually a very entertaining performer and has been highlighted to have done all of his own singing. While not as large in name but certainly in terms of their vocal chords, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta had both the stage presence and the vocals to back up their starring roles. The only characters that did not fit as well with their vocal work were Alec Baldwin and Paul Giamatti, both of whom seemed to force it to sound good but were audibly strained in their delivery. On the acting front, Catherine Zeta Jones comes off rather awkwardly in her attempt to be a pure Christian on a warpath, particularly in the stiffness of her performance (more so than the character truly dictated).
The story of Rock of Ages was certainly an entertaining collection of rock & roll’s glory days of hair and glam rock anthems and ballads. Adam Shankman wove some of the biggest hits of the genre into a compelling story that pitted love against fame and decency against freedom. Following the stories of Sherrie and Drew played more into the first of the two themes, particularly as the night of the Stacee Jaxx performance causes a rift between the two. Sherrie’s abandonment of the Bourbon comes from a place of feeling lost, similar to the lyrics of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. Her decent into the world of a gentlemen’s club initially represents the opposite paths of her and Drew, at least until his dreams of his band’s rise to glory are cut short by Paul’s transformation of the rock band into a boy band. He became frustrated and finally able to truly listen to Sherrie’s claims of fidelity.
On the decency versus freedom angle, Patricia’s desires to clean up the streets have less to do with Christian morals than they do with revenge against the man who scorned her. Though her musical number Hit Me With Your Best Shot was a little awkward in its presentation of God-fearing women dancing provocatively and gyrating into the air, it helped to set up some of the drama for the Bourbon and provide a little more depth for Dennis and Lonny’s struggles to keep rock & roll alive. Conflict arose between Stacee and Paul, as well, due to Paul’s underhanded dealings and focus on profit over the power of rock.
Included within the film are the following adaptations of famous rock songs: Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City, Night Ranger – Sister Christian, David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise, Poison – Nothin’ But a Good Time & Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Foreigner – Juke Box Hero, Waiting for a Girl like You & I Want to Know What Love Is, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock n’ Roll, Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot & Shadows of the Night, Extreme – More Than Words, Warrant – Heaven, Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive, Twisted Sister – I Wanna Rock & We’re Not Gonna Take It, Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me, Quarterflash – Harden My Heart, Whitesnake – Here I Go Again, REO Speedwagon – Can’t Fight This Feeling, Undercover Love, The Scorpions – Rock You Like a Hurricane, Starship – We Build This City, Journey – Any Way You Want It & Don’t Stop Believin’
Full of great rock classics and overall good renditions using a combination of vocal talents, this film reaches out with open arms. Though a few of the moments are a little awkward and some of the acting is a little hokey, it is easy to look past it and simply have a good time.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5