Rock of Ages review
Someone has dialled up the fun factor in this hugely enjoyable musical romp. Tom Cruise is on top form, and who knew he had such a fine pair of lungs on him?
The stage version of 'Rock of Ages' has proven to be a big hit, and now a host of stars bring the story of '80s rock to the big screen. Catherine Zeta-Jones and the young leads are known for their musical talents, but much has been made of Tom Cruise's performance as outrageous front man Stacee Jaxx. Can the star of eighties hits like 'Top Gun' and 'Risky Business' cut the mustard singing hits from the same decade?
Small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough) hopes to find fame and fortune in Hollywood. On her first night on sunset strip she gets robbed, meets wannabe rocker Drew (Diego Boneta) and lands herself a job waitressing at The Bourbon Room.
However, the seedy music venue is under threat from the mayor (Brian Cranston) and his wife (Catherine Zeta Jones), who see it as the head of a rock ‘n’ roll snake that is corrupting the youth of the city. Fighting to keep the place open is owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and his zany assistant Lonny (Russell Brand).
[Related video: Catherine Zeta-Jones belts out tune in 'Rock of Ages' clip]
[Related video: Watch our highlights of the 'Rock Of Ages' London premiere]
In an act of desperation, Dennis calls Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti), the manager of Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), the brilliant but unreliable front man of rockers Arsenal. The stage is set for Jaxx to launch his solo career, but after a fiery interview with journalist Constance Sack (Malin Ackerman) his life is turned upside down, and the future of The Bourbon Room hangs in the balance.
At the core of this film is a very straight boy meets girl story. Hough and Boneta are the young lovers who find themselves embroiled in a bigger story. Although both of them do well in their generic-sounding roles, it's the older actors who steal the show.
Cruise is on top form, both in terms of an eccentric acting performance as well as a superb delivery of some rock classics. He manages to sound like himself, and yet deliver some powerful numbers that show off his singing skills.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is also excellent throughout. We already know she can sing and dance, but for once she also appears to be having a lot of fun. It's a shame she doesn't have more screen time, or even get to share her few moments with more of the principle cast.
At the other end of the spectrum is Russell Brand. His screen routine is already a tired act, and here he employs an atrocious accent to try to add some comedy value. He fails to garner any real laughs, and it’s fortunate that Alec Baldwin is on hand to save most of Brand's scenes. Admittedly a couple of these are made unintentionally hilarious by Baldwin's awful singing voice, but he gamely has a go where many others would shy away. It's not quite Peirce Brosnan in 'Mamma Mia!' bad, but it's not far off.
The movie is a touch too long, sometimes repeating itself for no reason. The extended gags about Drew joining a trendy pop band are funny, but could have been significantly trimmed. Thankfully there is always a well-judged mash-up tune around the corner, or a heartfelt power ballad to be belted out to save us from tuning out.
Daftly enjoyable, 'Rock of Ages' is the perfect summer musical. If you are one of the many who will be looking to avoid traditional blockbusters and the impending influx of sport on the TV, then this is the perfect escape for you.
Watch the trailer for 'Rock of Ages'