By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
“Rock of Ages” is supposed to be an over-the-top celebration of rock ’n’ roll excess.
It’s based on an award-winning Broadway musical of the same name, and takes its soundtrack from what’s become known as “hair metal,” the music from the late 1980s and early 1990s. A lot of the songs have nostalgia value, but “Rock of Ages” fails to capitalize on it.
Young lovers, Sherrie (Jennifer Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta), are attractive and sing reasonably well, but their predictable romance is lacking in the charm department.
I also found the relationship between club owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and his employee Lonny (Russell Brand) forced. Both characters have lines that are supposed to be funny but don’t deliver laughs.
Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Patricia Whitmore, a character modeled on Tipper Gore, who led a charge against indecent rock ’n’ roll back in the day. There’s supposed to be a surprise twist with this character, but it’s about as subtle as the lead singer for the rock band Poison. (That’s Bret Michaels if you’re wondering, and, no, he’s not subtle at all.)
But there is some good stuff, especially from Tom Cruise, who plays a self-absorbed, alcoholic musician named Stacee Jaxx. Cruise allows us a glimpse inside the world of rock excess that’s both funny and touching. His relationship with Constance (Malin Akerman) could’ve been played completely for laughs, but “Rock of Ages” goes for honesty, instead. You start to understand why a massively successful performer would find himself trapped in a bubble of his own making.
Paul Giamatti plays an unscrupulous piece of Hollywood sleaze. He does his job so well that you wonder if Giamatti might actually be a jerk in real life. I mean that as a compliment. He turns what could’ve been a one-note character into a worthy villain.
It’s a shame the rest of the movie doesn’t live up. “Rock of Ages” has some quality pieces in place. The music is raucous and debauched, and so are many of the characters. It’s hard to understand why the movie feels so tame.
I give “Rock of Ages” a C minus.
It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson with Wizard 106.7 gives “Rock of Ages” an A.
“I had the best time, and sang along from the beginning to the end.”
“Roadkill” Bill, also with Wizard, gives it a B.
“The story was predictable, but I had a whole lot of fun with the music.”