Hasn’t anyone seen the Broadway show from which this movie spawned?
It’s ridiculous! A cliché-fest from the moment we’re introduced to “Sherri Christian,” just a small-town girl escaping her lonely world in search of fame on the ‘80s-era Sunset Strip.
No one should be surprised that the movie follows the same goofy path considering the source material. But that source material was nominated for five Tonys in 2009 (it didn’t win any) and the show is still holding steady on Broadway, playing to about 94 percent capacity last month.
So lots of people like it.
And I’m one of them. But it isn’t the storyline – part of which is nearly identical to the video for Poison’s “Fallen Angel” – that prodded me to the movie theater on a Friday morning.
It’s the music.
Blasphemous, you say? Well, get over it. Plenty of us with respect for Dylan, Springsteen, Aretha, The Beatles, Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, the Beach Boys and any other “real music” artist you want to add to that list, also have an affinity for hair metal.
It’s fun. It’s mindless. And if you grew up in the ‘80s, it was inescapable.
And those are the reasons to see “Rock of Ages.”
Well, those and Tom Cruise, who brings such a loony intensity to chiseled rock god Stacee Jaxx, he’s mesmerizing. And while he’s no Jon Bon Jovi, Cruise clearly took notes and delivers “Wanted Dead or Alive” with wild-eyed passion. He’s just a guy who is a peacock on the outside and a (cliché alert!) bleeding-heart loner on the inside. Like every other sensitive rocker who commandeered MTV in the ‘80s.
What “Rock of Ages,” the movie, does extremely well is tuck in tiny nods to the era: The bus that Sherrie arrives on is number “1984.” A slightly heard “I Will Remember You” from Skid Row plays in the background of Tower Records (let’s all pause for a moment of silence to remember that musical Mecca). The shot of someone reading Creem magazine during the Venice Beach montage set to Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me.” The singalong of “We Built This City” outside the fictional Bourbon Room, where a crowd pan spots REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach and Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt (the credits also list Debbie/Deborah Gibson, but I totally missed her).
Oh, and even though he isn’t an ‘80s rocker, how cool was it to see Constantine Maroulis, the original “Drew” in the Broadway production (as well as the touring show that played Atlanta last year) in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo as a record exec?
Something else that “Rock” excels at – perhaps even moreso than “Glee” lately – is the mashup.
The “Shadows of the Night/Harden My Heart” pairing with Mary J. Blige and Julianne Hough was, simply, great. And not only do you get “Juke Box Hero/I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” (aka air guitar heaven), but you get to hear Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand sing most of it! Sure, Baldwin is pretty much this year’s Pierce Brosnan, but did he not look as if he were having a blast?
That’s what matters when you go see “Rock of Ages.” It’s not a great movie. It’s barely a watchable one. But the novelty aspect of seeing a top-notch cast fist-pumping to Journey’s now-forever-resurrected anthem (thanks, Sopranos!) “Don’t Stop Believin’” is enough to make you walk out of the theater with a little rock ‘n’ roll strut.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene